Story of Hope
by Joni Kamiya, Hawaii Farmers Daughter, January 5, 2017
The winter break has been a great chance for me to reflect back on the last several years since I get to take my kids down to my folks’ house on a daily basis. It’s the first year that my son, now two, gets a chance to really play on the farm. He’s been really big into watching big trucks on the street and even admiring the garbage man. I find it pretty amazing how these very mundane events can make a child just sit there in awe at the world.
The other day as we were leaving my folks’ house, my dad had happened to park his Peterbilt truck on the roadway as he reshifted vehicles around. My son was just amazed of the sheer size of it and said, “Big truck. Want see big truck.” Being the mom who lets him explore, I let him stand there and touch it and look it up and down. It was pure magic to see his eyes twinkle at the sight of this truck. This was no toy truck but the real deal with real noise and a loud engine.
Not only did the truck put my son in awe, but hearing and seeing all of the tractors around the farm made him squeal in glee. He walked around the shed looking at the machinery asking, “What that?” I spend a good hour taking him around the farm and letting him sit on the tractors as he talked to him self and kept wowing about trucks and tractors. I’ve realized how so many kids never get the chance to see a real working farm and what happens on it in this day and age. If it does happen, it’s maybe once a year. For farming families, this is a daily experience that loses its wonder sometimes.
When my dad saw how excited my son was about the truck, he decided to give him a treat and let him in it. My dad asked him, “Want to go see it?” My son replied that he did and the smile on his face, as well as my dad’s face, was priceless. When the door popped open, my son freaked out at how large the cab was and declined to go inside. He wanted to admire it from the outside. My dad laughed and carried him on to see the other machinery around the farm. These are the moments to the general public never gets to see of the farmer.
Our family farm was started by my grandfather who planted the seed in my dad to farm. For one generation to pass it on to the next is like handing over the torch. This is what families who farm want to see happen in the ideal world. To see my dad talk about my brother taking over the farm is another proud moment. When my dad gets to take my son and daughter around the farm, it’s yet another happy moment to bring a smile and share a long family history to yet another generation.
Farms aren’t popping up all over Hawaii at the moment and many are closing and selling their lands. The reputation of farms have been damaged thanks to a loud, vocal minority who have tried to define us as a danger to others, when we have been neighbors for many decades. They have much more scary and alluring stories that want to redefine the work we do in our communities and desire to divide it. They’ve been pretty successful because it’s a full time job for them. The narrative they’ve crafted fits nicely with many of the Hawaiian values and resonates with the strong desire to protect the land.
Farming families have the same values to protect the land for future generations and protect a way of living. Our stories and experiences are passed on to each generation in hopes of growing our roots and keeping our families flourishing. It is those powerful lessons that plant a seed of hope to continue our agricultural legacies in Hawaii. It is our history and what defines us as a being a local. It is what brought our families here to provide a better future for each generation to come.
I hope that 2017 will bring a year of learning and sharing stories and experiences of Hawaii’s agricultural history. It’s time to agree upon facts and work on collaborating on how we preserve agriculture in our state, rather than try to shut it down forever because of fear and misinformation. Will you close your eyes and see a grandfather telling his grandchildren about his farm and teach them the lessons learned there? Will you see and feel the pride of a father when his son fills his shoes? Will you be listening to the stories of farming families and hear why they want access to tools? Will you speak up for our family so that fair policies are made to help preserve our way of living?
It is the voice of the reasonable people and the ones who are willing to listen that will help keep the stories of hope alive. Our story in Hawaii may seem insignificant to many, but I am hoping that it will have a reach beyond our state to help people in other countries who are seeking food security and the same comforts that we enjoy. May other fathers get to share in the joy of seeing their farm passed onto the next generation thanks to tools that have so much potential to improve their sustainability. I hope that you’ll join the voice of reason in 2017 to plant the seeds of hope for the future.