Hawaii Agro-Economics Song-Slice of Life, Hawaiian Style Series

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(Country-dance with steps and kicks, to the tune of “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” composed prior to America’s Civil War. In Pre-Reconstruction days, folk-musicians commented on life in this singsong manner; my comments pertain to Hawaii’s ongoing Construction Phases.)

As growers of food we also strive


To keep Hawaiian lands’ life alive.

Land developers are our threatening force;

Legislators want high revenues–of course.


Housing, resorts, estates increase land value,

Can tax more for people than plants or cattle.

Productive land once gone is lost forever:

Honest work exchanged by those who act clever.


‘Chorus: As growers of food we also strive’

‘To keep Hawaiian lands’ life alive.’


Hawaii’s leaders won’t say, “That’s enough;”

Easy-becomed politicians aren’t that tough, Invitors: “Visit,

stay, congest, help us grow,

Fecundity is big-time here, don’t you know?”


“Love of Aina” now means having some action,

“Expand, build, make us rich” is the reaction,

Real estate marketers turnover and flip.

Investors arrive, can do it fast–one trip.

Avoid groundwork; opt for the pie-in-sky schemes,

Arising cities, rail, comprise the new dreams.


‘Chorus: As growers of food we also strive’

‘To keep Hawaiian lands’ life alive.’


One-party legislators smile, say “We’re friends,

Just do paperwork and amends and amends.

Aunt Sally here, Uncle Solly there know all,

For a good deal make sure they’re ones who you call.

Hey, look at your watch? Time now for some kaukau!

Eat with my union pals: they’ve strength and know-how.”


‘Chorus: As growers of food we also strive’

‘To keep Hawaiian lands’ life alive.’


Once schmoozing ends, and you commit, things get tough

Delays, to please so many, never enough.

“E.A.S? No worry ’til the frowns come by,

Just ‘Give-um,’ schmooze, and why not chance a good try?”


‘Chorus: As growers of food we also strive’

‘To keep Hawaiian lands’ life alive.’


“Soot bredhoff bulls centered”

These Cowboy verses from Paniolo Soot

Describe local ranchers’ story all through it:

“Been a Hawaiian Cowboy all of my life,

Made a lava-field rescue and met my wife.

Love of land and tradition deserves to stay:

Ranching and Ag–Vital to Hawaii nei!”


(Land and animal husbandry is their work
Seven-day care of cattle they never shirk.)

“Soot Bredhoff horses centered”


“What we do for others should matter to you,

Growing grass-fed beef good for health and to chew.

Ours is not industrial food, it’s raised slow,

This premium beef, the best kind you will know,

High protein, low starch, not saturated fat.

We also preserve the natural habitat.

Help native plants grow, keep wetlands where they’re at.


“Valuable birds need old-time precipices,

Restore habitats for endangered species,

Reducing soil erosion, protecting streams–

So the coral reefs will grow, being kept clean!”


‘Chorus: As growers of food we also strive’

‘To keep Hawaiian ocean life alive.’


Watercress, tangy, tasty, crispy to chew

Put in soups or eat fresh ’cause it’s good for you,

By Aiea’s main highway is where it thrives,

Stream and Sumida’s workers, keep it alive.


Lessor prevents Pearlridge mall from encroachment,

Keeps oasis: bringing life and enjoyment.

See empty box stores up at the parking lot?

From rich soil, water, food crops grew on that spot!


Three generation-Sumida’s make things grow,

Hope high-flying developers won’t cause ’em woe.

Big bucks from the Continent can make new friends,

Higher lease fees, tax dollars–Time for amends?


‘Chorus: As growers of food we also strive’

‘To keep Hawaiian land’s life alive.’


Politicians changed Hawaii’s way of life,

One-party dominance avoids all the strife.

High-rises, highways, rails come to Fat City,

Favors do help legislators sit pretty.


Land developers remain a threat’ning force:

Legislators want high revenue, of course.

“Ecology Tourism,” not yet our game,

Beaches, shopping, good weather–elsewhere’s the same.


Land use restrictions falling between the crack,

One-time public beach rules become out of whack.

Some rich folks will do whatever they Dam please,

Plow, cover-up, Kapu signs: Paradise thieves.


‘Chorus: As growers of food we also strive’

‘To keep Hawaiian land’s life alive.’


”(Sequel to come, sung to the tune of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” by Pete Seeger, 1955.)’

‘J. Arthur Rath, III is a Hawaii-based writer. Reach him at mailto:imua@spamarret.com’