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Event spotlights local agriculture

By Staff | Apr 6, 2012

WAIKAPU – On Saturday, April 7, the Maui County Agricultural Festival (MCAF) will celebrate agriculture’s vital role in the economy, environment and lifestyle of Maui.

Now in its fifth year, Maui’s prime event to raise awareness on local agriculture invites Maui residents and visitors to talk story with the people who grow our food and their industry allies, discover what agriculture means to our communities and ‘aina, taste fresh flavors and have fun.

Taking place on the luau grounds of Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu, the festival will be larger than ever.

About 1,500 participants attended the first ag festival in 2007 at War Memorial Soccer Field. This year, more than 7,500 people are expected to attend.

Why such growth? “I honestly think it’s because MCAF doesn’t occur in isolation,” Maui County Farm Bureau Executive Director Warren Watanabe said.

“In displaying the work that was accomplished over the previous year, we provide the community with tools to support agriculture in the year to come. It’s an invitation to get involved, and we are thrilled that people respond.”

This year’s festival will feature more educational groups that work on behalf of agriculture, more Grown on Maui farmers and more produce.

At the live Victory Farm, attendees can learn about Maui’s crops.

“The best way to support local agriculture is to buy and eat what Maui grows,” said Watanabe. “At MCAF, you’ll see why it makes sense.”

The popular Grand Taste Education will have the most exciting panel of judges to date, including Carolyn Jung, a James Beard Award-winning food and wine writer; and Jay Terauchi, a consultant-chef with a passion for extreme cuisine.

Presented in partnership with Slow Food Maui, taste what Maui chefs and farmers cook, then listen to the judges’ thoughts. Agriculture allies will also discuss careers in ag and hands-on gardening.

New this year, Whole Foods Market’s “Healthy Keiki in the Kitchen” will feature Chefs Jenna Haugaard and Paris Nabavi with on-air personality Cutty Cutler. Chefs will lead cooking classes for keiki ages 5-12.

Through “Localicious, Eat Maui,” from farm to table, sample hot dishes, fresh salads, cold ice cream and more.

Join emcee Alaka’i Paleka for a grand celebration of the culture and music of Maui, including a performnace by Hapa.

At “Ag in the Classroom,” meet Maui’s ag leaders and the island’s next generation of farmers, ranchers and educators.

For Grown on Maui, the A&B Foundation will present Maui’s largest farmers’ market. Meet the farmers who grow Maui ag!

Make your own flower arrangement and watch Maui’s professional flower designers compete in the first annual Floral Designers Competition.

Children can head to the Keiki Zone by Maui Thing for barnyard games and farm activities, including horseback and tram rides, face painting and Maui’s Grand Easter Egg Hunt by Kula Country Farms. Keiki can also learn about fixing nutritious meals at the festival.

In the livestock area presented by Maui Cattle Company, see animals that aid in farm management and provide food.

Hosted by Maui County Farm Bureau, in partnership with the county Office of Economic Development, and supported by generous sponsors, the festival provides the one-stop experience of the wondrous impact of agriculture in day-to-day life.

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

Tickets for Grand Taste Education are on sale at www.mauicountyfarmbureau.org or www.slowfoodmaui.org until April 5. Tickets can also be purchased at the festival on April 7.