Last weekend I joined forces with Forage Hawaii in hosting our first farm to table dinner on Oahu.
I met Jessica Rohr, owner of Forage Hawaii, taking regular trips to the Kaka’ako farmers market where she distributes local meats every week. Jess and I hit it off right away, both of us being so passionate about cooking and supporting local. Eventually it dawned on us we should work together. The wheels started spinning and plans to host a dinner event celebrating local farmers and ranchers were made.
After going on a farm tour of Mari’s Gardens in Mililani one afternoon it was settled, we found our venue and this thing was going down.
Don’t rain on my parade
The rain dumped all day, and then stopped right before the guests showed up. Just in time for a tour of Mari’s Gardens––the biggest hydroponic and aquaponic farm in Hawaii. Guests got to learn all about their organic, sustainable farming practices and see their impressive variety of lettuces, microgreens, edible flowers, fruits, vegetables and fish farmed on property.
Knocking it out
A behind the scenes look at the hours leading up to dinner…
An exceptional meal starts with exceptional ingredients. 50% of the produce used was from Mari’s Gardens including: ulu, Meyer lemons, limes, Negi onions, watermelon and Cheriette radishes, watercress, edible flowers and a variety of herbs and microgreens. The other 50% of the produce was sourced from other small farms on island. All of the meats used were locally sourced from: 2Lady farmers, Maui Nui Venison and Makaweli Meat Company.
After Jess and I kicked off dinner, and the food started to flow, we had the privilege to hear from some of the key players responsible for the pushing Hawaii’s local meat scene forward: Patsy Oshiro and Stacy Sugai from 2Lady Farmers and Kimo Tuyay from Maui Nui Venison.
The pork course
Patsy and Stacy told us the story of how 2Lady farmers came to be, thanking the Shinatos from Shinato Farm for their mentorship and helping them get their small pig farm off the ground. They likened their farming style to “Mothers raising their children” demonstrating how they care for their animals like family. Their intentions are to take what they have learned from the Shinsatos and pay it forward, offering mentoring programs to future farmers here on Oahu.
The venison course
Kimo taught us about wild venison. We learned how it is not only delicious but more sustainable to harvest and healthier to eat. He announced a couple of new projects on the horizon including a new line of Maui Nui Venison jerky hitting the market in January and the Kahikinui project, where they will be harvesting another local wild, population––wild cows.
“It was interesting to hear the same sentiments 2Lady farms had towards the pigs they raise, as we have with the wild deer we harvest––which is less stress equals better product,” Kimo said after the event.
I think everyone was able to take away something important from all of the speakers and reaffirm to themselves why it is so important to continue to support local, non-factory farms.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get many photos of our guests of honor but I think that their beautiful cuts of meat speak for themselves.
The response to our first dinner was heartwarming. It showed that there are a number of people here on Oahu who truly support the farm-to-table movement and appreciate the people who are providing nutritious and sustainably grown food to the island. It just goes to show you, that by voting with your forks you can be a part of something that is ethical, healthy and helps to create change in your community and environment.
There’s no “I” in team
Our team did an amazing job and worked tirelessly all day to ensure the event was a true success. Huge thanks to Spencer, Lauren, Annie, Ardus, Ikaika, Jacey, our photographers Rob and Ketino and Brendon and Tanya from Mari’s Gardens. We could of never pulled this off without you.
Stay tuned for the next Forage Hawaii vs. Healthy Locavore farm to table dinner…
For updates on when the next Forage Hawaii farm-to-table dinner will be, and about all other Healthy Locavore events, subscribe to the Healthy Locavore newsletter here.
Mahalo nui loa to everyone who attended. See you next year!
Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.