Normally celebrated at the CTAHR Annual Banquet, this year’s Dean’s Award recipients will be honored here, on your laptops and tablets, and with their names carved into the plaques that adorn Gilmore Hall.
2020 Ka Lei Hano Award
I am humbled to receive the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resource’s Ka Lei Hano Award for 2020.
Agriculture is an integral part of my family’s history for several generations. I’ve witnessed its evolution in Hawai‘i for 30 years, and was privileged to be mentored by many growers, scientists, wholesalers, and educators—each of whom granted me a rare perspective into different aspects of the industry.
Regardless of whether agriculture in the Islands has seen better days, I firmly believe it must not only survive in all forms, but really thrive. We all depend on it. Yet our farmers struggle with weather/climate changes, increased pest pressures, stricter regulations in food safety and chemical use, land and water restrictions, and earning enough income to survive.
So I want to share with you one way forward. It can significantly change the landscape of traditional agriculture through an amazing growing method that is efficient and clean, and it can erase some obstacles and challenges that often prevent crop growth and expansion.
A few years ago, Armstrong Produce was approached by a company called Plant Lab, which grows lettuce greens in a completely enclosed, temperature-controlled environment. Pioneered in the Netherlands, this technology provides a game-changing opportunity for indoor growing success, far beyond other approaches we’ve seen around the world.
Armstrong has partnered with Plant Lab to deliver 100% locally grown fresh produce. Their patented, custom-built Plant Production Units will provide the optimum growing conditions for the most flavorful and nutrient-rich leafy greens and herbs. Since crops will be harvested only when they reach their peak in flavor, this cultivation method allows produce to be grown close to the local consumer, year round, irrespective of climate or season. This will solve most transportation issues, help curb CO2 emissions, and reduce waste in the supply chain.
Plant Lab products are grown pesticide-free and require much less water (up to 95% less) during the growing period compared to traditional farming. This greatly minimizes the environmental impact of food production.
As a local, sustainable manner of growing fresh produce—far different from us currently importing nearly 100% of lettuce greens from outside sources—it fits perfectly with Armstrong’s fervent desire to reduce food imports. It reaffirms our commitment to deliver fresh, safe, high-quality produce to Hawai‘i customers.
We anticipate that before the end of 2020, the initial production of locally grown greens will become a welcome reality in supermarkets and restaurants across Hawai‘i. This will be the new face of agriculture in our state. I am hopeful that other new technologies and programs will be embraced that provide greater sustainability for our island home.
Tish Uyehara, Armstrong Produce