Cotton and Sheep


This past weekend was the Hawaii State Farm Fair at Kualoa Ranch.  Usually, my dad’s farm has a booth there where we sample papayas.  However, we’ve been sold out the last several weeks so we aren’t able to host it.  It’s actually great that we are selling all of our papayas, including the off grade ones.  

This year, I helped man the booth for the Hunting Farming Fishing Association instead.  I’m one of the founders of this volunteer run group to help protect the rights of those user groups and to educate the public about what we do.  I spent nearly 20 hours this weekend getting it put together and talking to hundreds of people.

The first day there was spent figuring out the crowd and talking story with folks.  We had kids coloring and asking lots of questions about hunting and fishing.  On the second day, I decided to get more sophisticated and brought my Indian corn and a cotton boll.

When kids were eyeing the lollipops we had our, I’d show them my cotton boll to see if they knew what it was.  Nearly a third of the kids and quite a few adults had no idea what it was.  I’d let them handle it and they still had no idea.  Several answered that it was a sheep and the soft part was wool!

It made for a lot of giggling when I turned the cotton boll over to show the stem.  I’d then ask them if the knew who grew it.  Many answered it correctly and could not believe their clothing came from a plant.  I told them that farmers not only feed you but keep you from going naked.  We all had a good laugh.

After showing them the cotton, I’d show my red corn and ask if they knew what it was.  Many could recognize it was corn.  I asked them if they ate red corn.  None could say yes.  I asked the kids why was it red instead of yellow.  They had no idea.  

Depending on their age, I’d explain that people trying make corn as yummy as possible by experimenting with it. The older kids knew what DNA was so I explained how the DNA was different leading to different types.

There were many “a-ha” moments in kids and parents.  It made me realize that too many think they know things but really don’t know.  This was only proven when our last visitor to our booth started talking about how he was a fish conservationist but also fished.  

We started talking about fish conservation being good but it means that if oceans are to be protected, one must increase food production on land.  If we don’t give other nations tools for productivity, they will head to the forests or oceans for food.  This awkwardly man in his denim shortalls with a straw hat then said that he is all about that but not frankenfish.

I pressed him as to why he was against it and his reply was that he just didn’t think it was a good idea.  He couldn’t elaborate on it but simply walked away saying no way.  I asked him on what he’d do to protect wild stocks then to which he had no answer.

I really had an eye opening weekend to say the least.  I’ve realized that there is a huge need to connect out with the public to educate them on how we grow or catch things to eat.  Until one sees what it takes to feed someone with their own eyes, they really don’t know.  Without true knowledge, the public can never fully appreciate those who feed and clothe us.  If the farmers and scientists don’t tell their story, someone else will.  

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