One Man

 

I remember when I was 5 years old and developed an insatiable love of reading.  I would find anything to read from magazines to comic books.  I even would take my dad’s dictionary and try to look up new words.  It was thrilling to be able to read as a kid.

One day, I had picked up a calendar and looked up my birthday, January 15th.  To my surprise, I saw it marked as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday too.  I asked my parents who this man one was and they gave me a bit of history on what he did.  I was in awe that I shared the same birthday as a great person.  To a 5 year old, it’s just the greatest news in the world to learn these things.

On the day I had learned about MLK, I had an appointment with a doctor that day.  I remember going into his office and jubilantly  telling him about what I had learned.  I was hoping that he’d be as excited as I was knowing that I shared a birthday with a great man.  To my disappoinment, the doctor replied to me, “Well, he’s just a black man.”  I was heartbroken as a kid and it’s something I never forgot.

The more I grew up and learned about Dr. King and what he did, I always remained proud that I had the same birthday as him.  He was one man who did something very brave to make things better for people.  He inspired so many to join him in making a right from a wrong even though it was an unpopular and very dangerous stance to take.  To me, he was more than just a black man, but a real inspiration to so many that helped to change the world.

I never realized that one day, I’d set foot in the National Civil Rights Museum while visiting Memphis.  This museum was build around the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was assassinated.  It also houses the bus where Rosa Parks had boarded and is filled with other historical artifacts around the civil rights movement.  I was overcome with emotion as I walked around this museum.  It was the same sadness that overwhelmed me when I visited the Holocaust Museum.  I still get emotional just thinking about what people faced in this century.

Dr. King was just one many who inspired many to change the status quo for many people.  His movement made things better for so many.  One man changed the world for so many generations.  What he did shows us that in our own actions, we too have the power the change the future.  Joining the popular, transient movements aren’t always the right thing to pursue.  We have to strategically look at the things that will affect generations to come.  Teaching our children to look to the future and inspiring to be innovators and creative and critical things is an investment for their future.  Like farmers planting the right seeds for the best crops, we as a society must cultivate the right environment that will foster a brighter future.

My birthday wish is that we continue to grow as people and cultivate a desire to learn and end fear of what isn’t understood.  We can’t sustain a community of people remain fearful and resistive to collaboration.  We don’t encourage our children to gossip and spread false rumors in schools so why should adults continue to do that? Genuine leaders will take the hard step of standing up for the facts and being a good example to others.  We already have enough divisiveness in our country and in Hawaii and it’s time to start the healing and move forward.  It’s time for it now and we all deserve a Hawaii filled with aloha.

 

 

Story of Hope

Story of Hope

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The winter break has been a great chance for me to reflect back on the last several years since I get to take my kids down to my folks’s house on a daily basis.  It’s the first year that my son, now two, gets a chance to really play on the farm.  He’s been really big into watching big trucks on the street and even admiring the garbage man.  I find it pretty amazing how these very mundane events can make a child just sit there in awe at the world.

The other day as we were leaving my folks’ house, my dad had happened to park his Peterbilt truck on the roadway as he reshifted vehicles around.  My son was just amazed of the sheer size of it and said, “Big truck.  Want see big truck.”  Being the mom who lets him explore, I let him stand there and touch it and look it up and down.  It was pure magic to see his eyes twinkle at the sight of this truck.  This was no toy truck but the real deal with real noise and a loud engine.

Not only did the truck put my son in awe, but hearing and seeing all of the tractors around the farm made him squeal in glee.  He walked around the shed looking at the machinery asking, “What that?”  I spend a good hour taking him around the farm and letting him sit on the tractors as he talked to him self and kept wowing about trucks and tractors.  I’ve realized how so many kids never get the chance to see a real working farm and what happens on it in this day and age.  If it does happen, it’s maybe once a year.  For farming families, this is a daily experience that loses its wonder sometimes.

When my dad saw how excited my son was about the truck, he decided to give him a treat and let him in it.  My dad asked him, “Want to go see it?” My son replied that he did and the smile on his face, as well as my dad’s face, was priceless.  When the door popped open, my son freaked out at how large the cab was and declined to go inside.  He wanted to admire it from the outside.  My dad laughed and carried him on to see the other machinery around the farm.  These are the moments to the general public never gets to see of the farmer.

Our family farm was started by my grandfather who planted the seed in my dad to farm.  For one generation to pass it on to the next is like handing over the torch.  This is what families who farm want to see happen in the ideal world.  To see my dad talk about my brother taking over the farm is another proud moment.  When my dad gets to take my son and daughter around the farm, it’s yet another happy moment to bring a smile and share a long family history to yet another generation.

Farms aren’t popping up all over Hawaii at the moment and many are closing and selling their lands.  The reputation of farms have been damaged thanks to a loud, vocal minority who have tried to define us as a danger to others, when we have been neighbors for many decades.  They have much more scary and alluring stories that want to redefine the work we do in our communities and desire to divide it.  They’ve been pretty successful because it’s a full time job for them.  The narrative they’ve crafted fits nicely with many of the Hawaiian values and resonates with the strong desire to protect the land.

Farming families have the same values to protect the land for future generations and protect a way of living.  Our stories and experiences are passed on to each generation in hopes of growing our roots and keeping our families flourishing.  It is those powerful lessons that plant a seed of hope to continue our agricultural legacies in Hawaii.  It is our history and what defines us as a being a local.  It is what brought our families here to provide a better future for each generation to come.

I hope that 2017 will bring a year of learning and sharing stories and experiences of Hawaii’s agricultural history.  It’s time to agree upon facts and work on collaborating on how we preserve agriculture in our state, rather than try to shut it down forever because of fear and misinformation.  Will you close your eyes and see a grandfather telling his grandchildren about his farm and teach them the lessons learned there?  Will you see and feel the pride of a father when his son fills his shoes?  Will you be listening to the stories of farming families and hear why they want access to tools?  Will you speak up for our family so that fair policies are made to help preserve our way of living?

It is the voice of the reasonable people and the ones who are willing to listen that will help keep the stories of hope alive.  Our story in Hawaii may seem insignificant to many, but I am hoping that it will have a reach beyond our state to help people in other countries who are seeking food security and the same comforts that we enjoy.  May other fathers get to share in the joy of seeing their farm passed onto the next generation thanks to tools that have so much potential to improve their sustainability.  I hope that you’ll join the voice of reason in 2017 to plant the seeds of hope for the future.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Music

In my household, my husband loves to listen to Christmas music.  It’s all good except for the fact that we listen to the same 6 CDs every single day.  He loves to romanticize the past when he was a kid.

As someone who has worked in a dementia unit, listening to the same songs can drive me batty.  Imagine everyday hearing the same song as you go in your car over and over.  I simply get tired of it.

Today, I decided to put in my favorite Christmas music, Dave Koz and friends.  It’s the same songs like Jingle Bells, Let it Snow, and so on with a nice jazz twist to it.  As I listened to it, I thought about the romanticizing of agriculture.

So many want farmers to go back to the old days of farming because they think it perceived that it was so much better.  Like listening to the same old Christmas songs, that is what the old ways sound like to the modern day farmer  There’s such a huge variety in farms and like the vast array of Christmas music, it’s no different for our farms.  Some like the old favorite ways and some choose the latest and greatest songs by fresh, new artists.  There is comfort in hearing the oldies but goodies and the newer versions. It really makes for a beautiful variety.  It’s no different for farms big and small.  Why would anyone force people to make a single choice when there are choices are available?  Our world is so much more beautiful with an array or variety and the freedom of choice.

Will you be the one demanding that everyone only be forced to choose one kind of music this Christmas? Or will you be open to listening to the many new artists and genres of holiday music? The greatest gift to our farmers will be the gift to let them choose their music.

We are Voyagers

This past weekend, my kids all recovered from their colds so I decided to do something fun with them.  We decided to take a break from Christmas shopping and see Moana.  It was nice to sit in the dark away from the overstimulation of the mall and have my toddler son stay still for at least an hour.

Even though Moana is a kids’ movie, I was really touched by the story and music.  One song in particular really struck a chord in me.

As I listened to the lyrics, I heard a very powerful message in it.  On the surface we see the characters taking a journey on a canoe seeking a new life and a parent teaching his child that same skill.  They know their history and use it to guide their future.  Moana may be a Disney flick, that message really resonated with me.

We are always striving to do things better than before.  We have that drive in us to follow that path. From my great great grandparents leaving the comforts of Japan and China, they took a voyage that would forever change the future of their family.  So many other families took the same journey over a hundred years ago.  For the Hawaiian people, they took that journey over many centuries.  It was in our blood to find a better future and it didn’t matter what our ethnicity is.  That is our history and story that guides us for the future.

No longer do we have jump into the ocean to set sail for a better life.  We can take a different kind of voyage right now in our present lives.

For me, my voyage and journey is to create a better future for my children.  I’m using my voice on this vast digital ocean to help build that future.  I know my history of where my roots lay and where I want to see my tree to grow towards.  I come from very humble beginnings and through hard work, my family built their lives up so that the future will be prepared.  For that, I am deeply grateful for what they sacrificed for me.  It’s my duty to honor their legacy and pass on those same lessons to my children so that they will know where they came from.

It is by knowing our past and history that will help keep us on track for creating that future.  Getting astray on hobby activism that really doesn’t solve an issue won’t guide a people forward.  Instead, it knocks them off from the real goal.  The focus on protesting this and that isn’t going to build that better path since it only acts as a temporary emotional release. We need more than protest after protest to create the future.  Our own ancestors knew that.

From the song, these words ring true:

“We are explorers reading every sign.

We tell the stories of our elders in a never ending chain.”

It is in us to push the boundaries and challenge ourselves.  Whether it be pushing for scientific discovery in genetics to the looking at the universe to find the answer, we are the explorers of our world and it’s in our nature to be that way.  The old ways are always in us as we go on that journey for the future and that will serve as our guide.

 

 

 

The Bungled Star Advertiser Opinion

Dear Editorial Board of the Honolulu Star Advertiser,

I have to say that when I read your op-ed on the issue of GMOs and pesticides, I was totally disheartened by your ill informed stance.  I’m not sure if you’ve ever been out to the large farm or even visited a small farm to ask some questions to learn about the issue, but it doesn’t seem like it to me.

One key point that stood out to me was the comment that the, “Anti-GMO have national standing.”  I’m simply floored by that statement.

Who exactly are the anti-GMO activists with national standing?  Let’s take a look.

Zen Honeycutt-mom, professional paid activist, with zero science background, and talks a lot of non-science or nonsense if you ask me.  

Watch her video in the link below and see if you can figure out what’s wrong with what she’s saying.  Note that this woman was recently here in Hawaii on the SHAKA Movement’s dime too.  She’s also moved on from protesting Monsanto and went on the the Dakota Pipeline protests right now.

 

Vani Hari-Ms. If-You-Can’t-Pronounce-It-Don’t-Eat-It and be afraid of chemicals entrepreneur who gets paid by food companies after she sends her Food Babe Army after them.

This woman is a computer scientist who takes advantage of people’s ignorance and uses it to her own advantage.  Fear is how she operates and she promotes the muddling of science and even attacks scientists who speaks out against her.  It’s a business venture for her and it’s apparently very profitable because she’s always traveling to luxurious locales.

 

Vandana Shiva-Another big time money maker and highly inflammatory character of the anti-GMO movement.

Every speech she gives, she takes in at least $40K and in Hawaii, on one of her tours, she made some $109,000 from Hawaii Seed! As with other anti-GMO activists, as soon as you question their facts, you’re banned.  There’s no discussion with these folks and if that’s the case, how is one to ever work with their demands?

 

There are so many other anti-GMO activists backed with lots of money and media power to get to their “national standing.”  From Jeffrey Smith, Gary Null, Stephanie Seneff, Andrew Kimbrell, to UH’s own Hector Valenzuela, it’s a very well coordinated movement that isn’t based on facts and thrives on fear and misinformation.  The Star Advertiser’s editorial board did the papaya farms no favors with what they wrote and nor did they bother to check into the facts around pesticides in our state.  Instead, they continue to give the public a slanted view that only farmers are users and aren’t responsible about it when they state that the State of Hawaii must ensure the public.  The fear mongering message they allude to in their editorial will continue the harassment of the farmers, as Farm Bureau President, Randy Cabral, stated this past weekend.

Let me remind the editorial board what the GMO farmer had to face earlier this year because they, as the main media source in our state, continues to give the facade of legitimacy to the anti-GMO activists.

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My dad, a lifetime farmer, and food grower in Hawaii had to face the consequence of fear mongering around GMOs and pesticides.  He got yelled at by a very fearful woman so beleaguered by the likes of the Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice, and Hawaii Seed.  He has grown millions of pounds of papayas and worked tirelessly for over 5 decades had to face a woman who had been taken advantage of by fear profiteers.  Gone are the days where neighbors and come and talk to each other about what they are doing.  Instead, hot tempered emotion clouds people’s thinking and turns them into ugly, mean people.  That’s simply not sustainable in Hawaii, where everyone knows everyone.

So Star Advertiser’s editorial board, I’d really appreciate it if a bit more investigative reporting is done and going to the source of the issue would take place.  Tomorrow, I get to process some 7000 lbs of papaya that so  many people depend upon and that’s hard work enough.  Our family and workers deserve respect and our voices heard above those of well paid activists like Ashley Lukens, attention seeker Nomi Carmona, and the protest everything Walter Ritte’s.  They aren’t the ones in the fields or on the farms growing Hawaii.  We are the ones striving to preserve agriculture in our state and provide locally grown foods that everyone wants but aren’t stepping up to do.

I’d love to see the board really go through and crosscheck their stances and the groups with “national standing.”  We need more critical thinking and well informed stances, not ones based on fake news.  Fake news has too many unintended consequences and we will all pay the price whether we like it or not.

Aloha,

Joni aka The Hawaii Farmer’s Daughter

 

 

 

 

Eat with Appreciation

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Every Monday for the last several months, I do the weekly check in with my folks.  My check in is usually a call or a text asking how many bins were picked.  Consistently, it’s been averaging some 20 plus bins which equates to over 8000 lbs of papayas. Yes, that’s some 4 tons of papayas.

Running after my nearly two year old keeps me plenty busy and working on the farm is my exercise.  If it’s unloading bins or stacking cases, it’s hard work.  From the time I get there at 8 to nearly 4 pm, it’s busy work getting the job done.

Last week, my brother and his main farm help were sick with the flu, leaving us short two people.  Without people power, a farm can’t get its work done. What would normally take us 7 hours to do easily turns into 9 hours or more.  It’s long and arduous getting food grown and to the market.  Consumers get the easy job of pushing a cart and selecting their food.

So on this Thanksgiving week, stop and think about how your food got to your table.  Learn about how you got that turkey and delicious honey ham on your plate.  Think about that wonderful salads and desserts too.  People helped to feed you and they do it everyday.

We are lucky to not have to farm day in and day out.  If you’re not farming someone else is and please send your appreciation their way this Thanksgiving.  The farming families would be happy to hear it from our customers.

 

 

Ordinary Treasures

Ordinary Treasures

My day job is not an easy one.  Taking care of people is not an easy or simple task.  There’s times when you have to put a lot of muscle in or help people to the bathroom.  Anyone who is a caregiver knows that caregiving is an under appreciated work.  It may be tough but I really love what I do.

As an occupational therapist, the daily tasks that we do each day like bathing and dressing become affected by an injury.  Most people never give a second thought about our functional abilities until we lose function.  As a person with health, we forget how lucky we are.

I see people at their lowest state many times.  More people are living well into their late 80’s and 90’s fairly independently.  A sudden fall or illness can completely change their life and trying to get to the toilet is extremely difficult.  It’s also frustrating to go from needing no help to being completely dependent for your basic care.

Many of my patients come to me very depressed.  I hear a lot of crying and sadness in their voices. I remember being told a long time ago that health professionals should not get emotionally involved with their patient because it will cloud your thinking when dealing with them.  I can’t stand there and not feel compassion for the person.  I’ll take the time to listen to what they desire and need.  Sometimes I have to a little extra thing for them that isn’t necessarily part of the job but will make them feel better.  Giving a warm cup of coffee with the exact the amount of sugar and can bring comfort to a person who isn’t feeling well.

I also share a hug with my patients when I see that they need one.  We sometimes shed a little bit of tears together at times. Many of my former patients will come back and visit me too and thank me for being  there for them at their lowest point.  It’s a wonderful feeling to know that what I did for them helped restore their function.  I love running into them in the community too.

As I work with the many patients, they each become a thread in my tapestry of memories.  I learn their life stories and it has enriched my life a hundredfold.  I’ve heard amazing stories of bravery and great loss too from seemingly ordinary people.

There are so many amazing seniors alive today who have so many stories to teach the younger generations of we stop and listen.  I’m blessed to have a job that has given me a very rich life.  In a world where we are thrown millions of messages each day, there are some that we need to hold onto forever.  It’s the ordinary people around us who enrich our lives with their stories.

Being able to make people’s lives better with one’s own actions is truly a gift each and everyone of us has.  We can choose to be generous to others or focus on ourselves. I give that gift to each person I take care of because it’s about life, a good quality of life.  My life is so full of good memories shared by others who each taught me something new. Taking care of our fellow human is what we were all meant to do in life in some form.  If we all took time to look at the wealth of the people power around us a bit closer, we’d probably be better off doing that.