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Festival highlights Maui agriculture

By Staff | Apr 1, 2010

Chef Ryan Luckey of Pineapple Grill (left) visits Mike McCoy’s farm in Kula. Since opening in 2005, Pineapple Grill has embraced local agriculture, and Luckey works with farmers around Maui. Luckey will be paired with Daniel Rudoy of WeFarm@Kapalua at the Taste Education Event on Saturday, April 3. Their presentation will focus on vegetables and sustainable fish. Photo courtesy of Steve Brinkman Photography.

WAIKAPU — The third annual Maui County Agricultural Festival will take place at Maui Tropical Plantation on Saturday, April 3.

Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission and parking are free.

In partnership with the county Office of Economic Development and with the support of sponsors, Maui County Farm Bureau is holding the event to raise awareness about agriculture on Maui.

Here is a chance for Maui to talk story with the people who grow our food and their industry allies, learn more about what agriculture means to our communities and ‘aina, taste fresh flavors and have fun.

“The festival serves to show agriculture’s vital role in the economy, environment and lifestyle of Maui,” said Maui County Farm Bureau Executive Director Warren Watanabe.

“It provides the one-stop venue to experience the positive impacts of agriculture in day-to-day life.”

Taste Education will again be presented in partnership with Slow Food Maui. On a theater-style stage, celebrated Maui chefs team up with Maui farmers and ranchers to present how skillful, yet simple, techniques or a bit of know-how can enhance the qualities inherent in Maui-grown produce.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., coordinator and emcee Chris Speere will set the tone for six demonstrations: Mark Ellman of Mala’s Ocean Tavern will join Molokai Sweet Potato for ‘Canoe-Crop 101;” Ryan Luckey of Pineapple Grill will explore vegetables and sustainable fish with WeFarm@Kapalua; Justin Pardo of Market Fresh Bistro will take on another set of produce with Kupa‘a Farm; Bobby Santos of Maui Culinary Academy will explain perfect eggs and free range chickens with The Neighborhood Farm; enjoy an insider guide to Maui fruits with Chef David Paul Johnson and Olowalu Tomato Farm; and Chef Peter Merriman will join Alex Franco of Maui Cattle Company to show cool ways to think about and cook local beef (this all-natural beef is an important but often overlooked part of agriculture, raised on more than 60,000 acres of prime Maui grazing land).

Visit the Victory Farm to learn about Maui’s crops and youth garden programs, while Livestock Animals by Maui Cattle Company will show how animals aid in farm management, provide high-quality protein and keep managed lands green.

Grown on Maui will be a farmers’ market with fresh produce and value-added products vital to Maui’s sustainability, sponsored by The Alexander & Baldwin Foundation and funded by HC&S, which grows Maui Brand sugar.

Food booths will feature Maui Taro Burgers, Maui Cattle Company all-natural hamburgers and jerky, stew luau, smoked meat plate, chow fun, poi mochi, Roselani Ice Cream and more.

There will also be a Keiki Zone by Maui Thing, Wellness Tent and interactive health displays presented by Kaiser Permanente, Ask the Farm Doctor staffed by representatives from agricultural colleges and other agricultural allies, information on composting at home, and Book Store courtesy of Barnes & Noble, which will donate ten percent of profits to Maui County Farm Bureau’s Ag Foundation, a 501(c)3 established to operate educational programs for Maui’s youth.

KPOA Radio Morning Mana‘o host Luana Kawa‘a will teach Hawaiian agriculture words and phrases, and Maui’s “Morning Goddess.” Alaka‘i Paleka, will emcee a dynamic lineup of entertainment, including Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner Weldon Kekauoha.

In celebration of spring and Easter Weekend, an Easter Egg Hunt is scheduled at noon (keiki under five) and 12:45 p.m. (ages 6-10) in the Keiki Zone.    

Throughout the day, free activities will be held by Maui Thing, the clothing store in Wailuku. Children of all ages will enjoy hands-on projects, including “Making Reusable Bag Art” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and “Plant Your Own Garden” from 1 to 4 p.m. Keiki will also have fun with sack and egg-and-spoon races.

Horseback rides by Thompson Ranch and the Maui Tropical Plantation Tram Tour will be offered for a fee.

New this year will be demonstrations in the Wellness Tent by Susan “Chef Teton” Campbell. She will conduct three demonstrations focused on ways to prepare foods we love in a healthy way. The demonstrations are scheduled in the Wellness Tent at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Come and learn how to make Tahini Tamari Dressing, MacNut Cream Sorbet and Chocolate Mousse.

In conjunction with the festival, Maui County Farm Bureau, Maui Visitors Bureau and county Office of Economic Development will present “Localicious, Dine Out Maui,” a promotion designed to invite residents and visitors to dine in Maui restaurants on farm and-pasture-to-table menus. The program runs through April 9; participating restaurants are listed at www.mauicountyfarmbureau.org.    

The festival’s entertainment slate includes Dez-Man at 9 a.m., Na Kamalii O Ke Akua at 10 a.m., Mele Pono at 11 a.m., Halau Hula Ke Kua O Kalaau Ala Iliahi at 12:15 p.m., Weldon Kekauoha at 12:45 p.m., Zenshin Daiko at 2 p.m. and Pac Vibe at 3 p.m.

Taste Education tickets are on sale at www.mauicountyfarmbureau.org. Advance tickets cost $25 for adults and $10 for keiki 12 and under. Limited tickets are available. Tickets purchased at the festival on April 3 cost $30 and $15.

Taste Education will be held in two sessions, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Participating chefs include Mark Ellman (Mala’s Ocean Tavern Lahaina), Corey Waite (Mala Wailea), Ryan Urig (The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua), Joey Macadangdang (Roy’s Kahana), Scott McGill (Hula Grill), Todd Carlos (Duke’s Beach House Maui), Jennifer Nguyen (A Saigon Cafe), Jennah Haugaard (Flatbread Company), Ryan Luckey (Pineapple Grill), Neil Murphy (Merriman’s Kapalua), Justin Pardo (Market Fresh Bistro), Ben Marquez (Maui Culinary Academy), David Paul (David Paul’s Island Grill), Ivan Pahk (Sansei Restaurant & Seafood Bar) and Tyler Conarroe (Whole Foods Market).