Dec. 16, 2020

Pine legislation to help people feed themselves, minimize mainland dependence

HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I — Food security for O‘ahu residents can now increase, with unanimous council passage of Honolulu City Councilmember Kym Pine’s legislation to create farm villages of tiny homes on agricultural land; to expand the city’s Community Gardens program to underserved areas; to establish creative use of city spaces for edible gardens and to promote sustainable planting of drought-resistant Native Hawaiian plants to save water and preserve native plant species.

“After seeing so many residents waiting hours in line for one bag of food during this pandemic, I vowed to ensure we never depend on the outside world to feed us ever again,” said Pine.

“About 45,000 acres of agricultural land are presently fallow, or not in active use. Those lands could not only be productive farms, the people who work on the farm could also live there, helping to alleviate the housing shortage, helping reduce farmers’ overhead costs and labor shortages and helping to reduce farm losses through crop theft,” she said. “Some of the most economically depressed areas on O‘ahu have no access to community garden plots to help people put food on the table. The city has land to offer, not just large parks and unused acreage, but little strips of grass between people’s homes and the street,” Pine said.

The measures are among eight pieces of legislation that received widespread, supportive public testimony and were unanimously approved by the full Honolulu City Council during its final regular meeting of 2020.

Res 20-293 creates farm villages, clusters of tiny homes on agricultural land, to house farm workers on the land where they work. The Department of Planning and Permitting and Planning Commission are directed to explore amending the Land Use Ordinance to establish these villages to help solve farmers’ labor shortages and theft-driven crop losses. Farm villages also would help to address the housing shortage and unemployment.

Bill 59 passed third reading, is heading for the mayor’s desk and Councilmember Pine urges him to sign it into law. It will empower residents to grow their own food by offering residents a city-provided community garden where they can grow produce.

Bill 83 will allow the public to cultivate edible plants in city rights-of-way (the patch of grass between the sidewalk and street fronting their homes, for example). Passed second reading – moving forward through the council process.

Res 20-74 promotes cultivation of Native Hawaiian plants and will save water, helping the city achieve its sustainability goals. The adopted resolution urges the city to implement these plantings whenever and wherever possible.

Councilmember Kym Pine represents residents of District One (ʻEwa, ʻEwa Beach, Kapolei, Honokai Hale, Ko ʻOlina, Nānākuli, Mā‘ili, Wai‘anae, Mākaha, Kea‘au, Mākua) and is chair of the City Council’s Committee on Business Economic Development and Tourism.

Media Contact:
Erika Engle
Communications Director
erika [dot] engle honolulu [dot] gov