Jillian Seals, Director of the Kauai Farmers Co-op, has been an organic farmer for over 20 years. Her co-op provides beyond organic produce – a term the co-op uses when referring to local, organic produce. Her mission is to create a support network for Island farmers where locally grown produce and value added products can be handled, stored and distributed around the Island. Farmers must be willing to go through a stringent quality control process insuring their produce is organic before they are admitted into the co-op. Benefits of joining with the co-op include getting true value for products, having a central destination to sell produce and getting paid right away. The co-op has several farmer members including Jillian’s own 12 acre farm and provides weekly produce to several restaurants who pride themselves on using as much local produce as possible. These restaurants include the Hukilau Lanai, 22 North and Common Ground. The co-op also provides weekly produce deliveries to Papaya’s Natural Foods and Cafe in Kapa’a, where the new produce manager is making constant efforts to provide as much fresh, organic and local produce as possible.
The co-op’s main outlet is through their CSA. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a thriving movement across the United States. A true synthesis of connection in community, farmers and their members have a symbiotic relationship. Members, essentially buying a stake in the farm, pre pay for a season of weekly deliveries known as shares. These shares provide the farmer with a secure source of income to plant their gardens. The farmer knows exactly how much to plant, how many laborers are needed, how much seed to buy and how much water will be needed because they know exactly how many people they are feeding. In turn, members receive a box of freshly harvested organic produce every week. Kauai Farmers Co-op boxes vary in contents and variety and are available in family and single sizes. The co-op provides a large array of produce including broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, cucumber, winter squash, purple sweet potatoes, corn, beans, tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, cabbage, taro, peppers, celery, lemons, kale, rainbow chard, tat sai, bok choy, arugula, mustard greens, osaka, micro greens, beets, carrots, daikon, radish, onions, tender cherokee lettuce, lettuce mix, basil, dill, chives, sage, spearmint, lemongrass, oregano, parsley, cilantro, apple bananas, mangos, lilikoi, lychee and papayas. All organic, all locally grown. The contents vary from season to season.
The benefits of participating in a CSA are many. Your pledge to support a local farm insures you are getting plenty of healthy produce in your diet. Knowing where your food comes from gives you confidence that the produce you receive was grown with sustainable methods thus reducing the risk of contracting E. Coli or salmonella. Dealing directly with the farmer, your produce is cheaper and you are nurturing Kauai’s food security while your carbon footprint is greatly reduced; produce doesn’t travel up to 9000 miles before it gets to you. There is no packaging contributing to the island’s land fill or use of oil to make the packaging. CSA creates strong communities through farm and family partnerships and participating stimulates a healthy economy by creating jobs and supporting local businesses. Your food choices do matter.
Jillian and her husband Gary have been in operation for close to 5 years connecting folks to food within their own ahuapua’ a or watershed.
After years of participating in the agricultural industry here on Kauai, they continue to provide a creative avenue making food available and affordable. Currently, efforts are being made to become a SNAP outlet.
“We believe in sharing sustainable methods in food growing techniques and in the availability of the food grown locally with deep intention.” In early 2007 Jillian and Gary created a farm training program called Seed to Table. The relationship between their trainings and the orchestration of a consistent distribution outlet gives them confidence to participate in an amazing closed loop system. Both the Kauai Farmers Co-op and Seed to Table programs are well recognized around the island and include personal connections with many local organizations, public and private. Seed to Table remains a 501-c3 under Garden Island Resource Conservation & Development Inc. (GIRC&D), and the Kauai Farmers Co-op continues in it’s formation as a legitimate Agricultural Cooperative.
Aside from running their farm, being a mom and directing their programs, Jillian also teaches agriculture at Kauai Community College in Lihue and at Kauai Pacific School (pre-K-6) on the north shore.
If you are an organic farmer interested in providing produce, have organic eggs or other value added products; are a restaurant interested in procuring local organic produce; are interested in becoming a member of the CSA or in learning about organic farming on Kauai please visit us on Facebook or contact us below:
Jillian Seals, Director
Marta Lane, CSA/Wholesale Manager
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