The Last Egg Farm

Last week I went down Kawaihae Road to buy some eggs. Half way down the hill is the sign: Organa Grown, Hawaiian Fresh Egg Farm, home of Mountain Apple Brand Eggs, and a turn off over a narrow bridge onto a lane shadowed by palm trees. Follow the dirt track around the bend and turn into a nondescript open lot between large warehouse-style buildings. Park and say hello into the open doorway, beside the whiteboad of egg prices and a faded copy of the ten commandments, and you'll be greeted by a member of the family: David Davenport in spattered jeans, his wife or two bright eyed teengaged daughters.
David has run this egg farm for 21 years. He took it over from his grandfather. It's still a family affair-- his family works with him producing thousands of eggs for the Big Island brand, Mountain Apple. They also sell flats of eggs directly from their warehouse, which is how I came to be standing in their doorway.
But in the next 6 months to a year, they will close down. When I asked David why, he said that he has a God-given vision to improve the life of the soil. They have already started their operation producing rich compost. His new composting businesses will be on the same 13 acre Kawaihae parcel where the egg farm exists, and they will produce composts and mulch. I have bought two huge sacks of the sweet smelling black stuff and raked it into my garden beds.

They are the last of the outer island egg farms. And as the news of their immindent closure has spread, David says that they have had more support in the last year than in all of the previous years combined. Now they have new customers come everyweek, as many as 30 to 40 a day coming in to buy flats of gold-centered pearls. But David says, "the time to be concerned is not when you're the last one." The time, he says, was as recently as two years ago when there were egg farms in Kona and Kohala, and on Maui.
As the slow food and local food movements have grown, public support of local agriculture has translated-- slowly-- into economic support of Big Island eggs, milk, meat and produce. But not quickly enough for this farm.
But as David says, "You need to be fulfilled in life, and do the things that you're called to do."
I wonder if it is possible for us in the islands to reverse our dependency on mainland-produced food. We are a microcosm of the problems of globalization-- and our failures and successes can be a model for the rest of the nation. I hope that we won't have to confront catastrophe in order to realize what we have lost in losing our local food supply.

Comments

  1. Oh, B! Your blog is like reading a literary magazine on the folk history and agriculture and heart of the Big Island.....I LOVE it!

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