FarmRoof goes up on Kakaako Car Dealership

Published: Jan. 5, 2012 at 9:36 PM HST
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Alan Joaquin
Alan Joaquin

By Tannya Joaquin

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)- Think of Kakaako and you're probably thinking high rises, not farms, but Kamehameha Schools sees rooftop farms as the future

One such "ground breaking" new farm called FarmRoof is part of the changing face of Kakaako.

It's on top of Automart USA, the car dealership right across from Honolulu Harbor. It's a fitting backdrop for the farm since up to 90 percent of our food has to be shipped in. The hope is that by growing food on more rooftops, we can have more homegrown food, literally.

After a prayer and blessing by Kawaiahao Kahu Curt Kekuna, Mayor Peter Carlisle and FarmRoof Founder Alan Joaquin untied the maile lei, rolled out the modules, and planted the first seeds.

"We have close to an acre of modules that will cover entire rooftop and the buildings down below" said Joaquin. " Everyone below and tourists flying above will be looking at green patches of healthy, nutritious food."

In a few weeks, the greens grown overhead will go to chefs, retailers or members who sign up for CSA's or community supported agriculture.

It's the world's first certified organic rooftop farming system, and according to Christian O'Connor, Senior Assets Manager for Kamehameha Schools, it's part of the master plan for Kakaako. O'Connor says, "We think the vision of greening this entire place is definitely something that can happen in maybe 10-20 years."

Automart hopes to shave 20 percent from its 12-thousand dollar a month power bill because of the benefits of a green roof.

Mayor Carlisle sees the possibilities, saying "This is something that's exciting to me because it could reduce energy costs, create energy and it could create food."

At a time when Hawaii's struggling with high prices, supporters see no reason why the islands should not be a hub for sustainable urban agriculture.

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