It takes a partnership: From left, OHA’s Colette Machado and Kamana‘opono Crabbe, DOA’s Russell Kokubun, Rep. Marcus Oshiro, TPL’s Lea Hong, Col. Daniel Whitney, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, TPL’s Timothy Johns, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz
Image: karleanne matthews

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) has purchased 1,700 acres of land near Wahiawa from the Galbraith Estate, Governor Abercrombie announced at a press conference on Dec. 11. These “prime agricultural lands . . . really some of the best in the state,” had “seemed destined for the next large development,” said Department of Agriculture Chairperson Russell Kokubun. Now they will be protected for farming.

“[This purchase] will allow us to reduce our reliance on food imports and increase our food security, a priority of this administration,” the governor said.

The $25 million purchase price was met by a state general revenue bond ($13 million), the U.S. Army ($4.5 million), the city’s Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund ($4 million) and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs ($3 million). The remaining $500,000 was donated by D.R. Horton/Schuler, which plans to develop housing on Hoopili farmland.

TPL has transferred 1,200 of the acres to the Agribusiness Development Corporation, a public agency that will be responsible for preparing and managing the land. Licenses will be available to farmers from neighbor islands as well as Oahu. The governor said that a development plan and timeline would be presented to the legislature as soon as it is in session.

The remaining 500 acres, which surround Kukaniloko (the sacred royal birthing site), were transferred to OHA, whose Chairperson Colette Machado and CEO Kamanaopono Crabbe praised both the furthering of agriculture and the protection of native Hawaiian culture.

Nearly every speaker applauded TPL Hawaiian Islands State Director Lea Hong (though she declined to speak, herself) as having been instrumental to the deal’s success.