Brandon Lee of Kaunamano Farms raises organic Royal Berkshire hogs.
KS farmer and past Mahi‘ai Match-Up winner Brandon Lee is in awe of what the Native Hawaiian people did prior to Western contact to successfully sustain their population with locally-grown food.
“We have a duty … to be an integral part of the agricultural system that sustained us as a society for over a thousand years. Native Hawaiian agriculture is so much more than feeding people with nourishment,” said Lee of Kaunamano Farms, located on ‘Āina Pauahi in Umauma on Hawai‘i Island. “Hawaiian agriculture could really have a huge impact on Hawaiʻi.”
It’s within this context that Lee believes Hawaiian agriculture could play a major, impactful role in modern times in helping to lift communities during challenges like COVID-19. His thinking is also the foundation for an idea to support ‘Iolani Palace through a fundraiser using locally-grown agricultural products.
Lee, who raises organic Royal Berkshire hogs on his farm, is working in partnership with Kamehameha Schools on a fundraiser that is offering a special promotional package for purchase through the farm’s “Eating with Impact” page on its website.
Kaunamano Farms has 1,000 of these fundraiser packages for sale and will be donating $20 of each purchase to The Friends of ‘Iolani Palace. KS will match the amount Kaunamano Farms donates to The Friends, up to $10,000. The proceeds will support the historic landmark’s ongoing operations that have been severely impacted by the downturn of tourism as a result of COVID-19.
“Honoring our history and supporting local food production are important ingredients in the well-being and health of Native Hawaiians and all of Hawai‘i,” Vice President of Strategy and Transformation Lauren Nahme said. “Through this investment, we are proud to be part of this collaboration with Kaunamano Farms and ‘Iolani Palace as we work together toward a thriving lāhui and a thriving Hawai‘i.”
Kaunamano Farms is launching this fundraiser on July 31 to coincide with the Hawaiian national holiday known as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea (Sovereignty Restoration Day) as a link to the history of Hawai‘i’s ali‘i and the palace.
“This project achieves blended returns by increasing awareness of locally-grown food, educating the community of the importance of Hawaiian history by ensuring the continued operation of the palace, and promoting the growth of Native Hawaiian identity through the connection to Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea,” said Marissa Harman, KS Director of Asset Management on Hawai‘i Island and a 1996 KS Kapālama alum.
KS stewards nearly 364,000 acres of land across the pae ‘āina. Of that amount, more than 181,000 acres are classified as agriculture. KS has more than 800 agricultural leases on about 66,000 acres of actively-managed agricultural leased lands.
“We are grateful for the outpouring of support and giving from the community. This generosity will go a long way toward supporting the continued operation of ‘Iolani Palace,” said Paula Akana, executive director of the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace and a 1980 KS Kapālama graduate. “We are also thrilled to be the recipient of an ‘āina-based, agricultural-based collaboration between someone like Brandon Lee with his energy and passion, and Kamehameha Schools, a leader in Hawaiian cultural-based education. We are very appreciative of this effort.”
For more information, visit Kaunamano Farm’s website, Facebook and Instagram sites or call (808) 885-5910.