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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 11, 2007

What I'm reading: Dean Okimoto

By Christine Thomas

Dean Okimoto

Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation

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What are you reading?

"The Next Green Revolution: Essential Steps to a Healthy, Sustainable Agriculture" by James E. Horne and Maura McDermott. It basically talks about agriculture as the founding basis of civilization. It goes into when you start forsaking agriculture and not understanding what it delivers you, you lose an overall perspective of a community, and all the good things agriculture delivers to life.

How did you discover it?

I think Alan Wong gave it to me. I go back and read it every once in a while. Over the last 30 years in Hawai'i, it's almost like we didn't look at this component in developing our lifestyle. We've kind of lost it. Thirty years ago, we probably produced about 40 percent of our agriculture needs locally, and today, it's probably down to 15 percent. It gets scarier as time passes. I'm considered a young farmer, and I'm 52 years old. That's pretty bad for any industry to think 52 years is young.

You often remind people that farming isn't mindless work, and you continually research new products and trends. Does that mean reading is an integral part of farming?

Definitely. ... It's an ongoing process. If you don't adapt and change, you lose it. We go against all farming models because we've been growing the same thing on our land for 14 years, but we add back into the soil, compost and amendments so we're able to keep up the fertility. ... That's directly from research and keeping up with new technologies. If we really want to grow, we can't keep doing it the same way.