One woman, one acre, one year…one square foot at a time

In May of 2011 with the help of Jean Hull, I started Farm to Fork Hawaii – my passion project. We set out to create a unique and elegant dinning experience that would highlight and support Hawaii’s amazing agriculture and its Chefs.  We felt that the best way to honor Hawaii’s agriculture would be to include a casual dialogue between courses about the growing and raising of food on our Island. Our Locavore dinners are generally four to six courses with wine or beer pairings.

Many people ask what locavore is. Locavore  (lo.ca.vore.) pronounced loh-kuh-vorh is a person who makes an effort to eat food that is grown, raised, or produced locally with in 100 miles of home. In our case we use Island raised meats or fresh caught/raised fish and locally grown produce.

At the first Farm to Fork Chef Daniel Theibaut created the menu that focused on veal from Kealea Ranch, produce from Earth Matters Farm and 100% Kona coffee from Homestead Coffee. When Greg Smith, of Earth Matters, spoke about his farm and food sustainability on our Island, he said (and I am paraphrasing), “As an Island community, we can not look to one farmer with 13,000 acres to create food sustainability. We need 13,000 people with one acre to create community and sustainability.” Greg’s resolve and commitment to agriculture inspired me to think differently about the land that I live on.

Our Farm to Fork dinners are always at Kealakekua Bay Bed and Breakfast where I work and live. The Bed and Breakfast is located on five acres over looking what is in my opinion one of the most beautiful places on our Island, Kealakekua Bay. Every morning with a cup of hot Kona coffee in my hand and my sweet dog by my side I walked these five acres. While the birds sang and the waves crashed, I would stare out at this land and the same question would enter my mind, “What can I do with one acre?”

Once I had asked myself that question enough times, I thought that it was time to do something about it. Naturally the first step I took was to find out exactly how much land comprises an acre. The answer is 43,560 square feet. Mild panic set in. Now I have not only a full time job but also a passion project (Farm to Fork) that takes up a lot of my spare time and a mediocre social life that needs to be maintained. So I sent the idea of growing one acre on the back burner and thought one day I will have time.

But every morning my walks continued and the nagging question of “what can I do with one acre” never went away. I know myself and I knew if I didn’t give it a try it would nag me forever. So with the help of a friend I measured out the land and found that I have irrigation for about 30,000 square feet. Once I saw how much land is in one acre, I sort of well…panicked again. Now, I don’t know about you but when I panic I give my mom a call. I explain the basics to her and repeated the number 43,560 square feet about a million times through out the conversation. She suggested to me in her calm way to tackle this project one square foot at a time.

Having a new perspective and a new mantra “one square foot at a time,” I decided I would still give it a try. I decided that the goal is to cultivate one acre but if I don’t get past the 30,000 square feet that I have irrigation for well that is not so bad, and I won’t be disappointed.  Now if I actually make it to one acre then I will be one happy camper and drinks are on me (figuratively).

Over the course of the project I plan to track the time and money that I invest and how much food I am able to grow. I will see how much money I save on my grocery bills and keep a journal of the knowledge I acquire. I will keep track of the pest and weed issues and what remedies I use to solve them. The goal is to have it an organic garden as the Bed and Breakfast is a ‘green’ business and we rarely if ever spray for weed control. After speaking with friends about the idea, we felt the best way to keep track of the progress would be to blog about it.

I realize that this is a large project and will take dedication. I have always had a culinary garden but it hasn’t been more than six beds. Our guests at the Bed and Breakfast have always appreciated the fresh fruits and vegetables that I grew. One of our most regular guests who appreciated my garden the most felt that it needed a name and calling it “Emily’s Bounty” hence the blog name of Beaches and Bounty.  This really is an experiment and the questions remains: What can one woman, a novice, do with one acre in one year? One square foot at a time…

FYI this is the area I am starting on.