Hawaii Organic Farming Association: Mark Fergusson on “What was achieved in 2013”


By real committed farmers… Organic farmers who are willing to advocate for organic agriculture… And so, HOFA’s vision and mission… Is to, you know, advocate for and educate people… About organics… So that’s what we’re about… So I just want to talk a little bit about what we achieved in 2013… So, one thing we did was… The name of the organization was changed to “Hawaii Organic Farming Association.” Made it a little bit broader… So it appeals to more people… So we also participated in the Organic Industry Advisory Group… That made recommendations to the Department of Agriculture… And the first recommendation out of that group… Is that Hawaii’s organic industry… Needs an independent representative… Organic Industry Association… To provide advocacy… That is to speak with one voice for the Organic industry…. Education, marketing, and member constituent support… So, you know, HOFA’s… You know… It’s HOFA’s role to fulfill that… That role… So HOFA was, you know, we formed… I guess just to fill you in… HOFA kind of went through a period of just not very much activity… It used to be a certifying agency… And then the cost of being able to be a certification agency… Went up dramatically… The annual fee to get audited by the USDA… Went up such that it wasn’t worthwhile for HOFA to remain in the certification business… So then HOFA gave up certifying… And turned people to International Certification Services…ICS. And so then that sort of created like… Well, HOFA had been a certifier… Then it became… What is HOFA’s role going to be? So really for the last couple of years… HOFA’s been kind of exploring… Well, what are we going to do? How are we going to do it? And previously, what happened was… Farmers used to be able to be on the board of HOFA… And then when HOFA became a certifier… The farmers weren’t able to stay on the board… And so it kind of led to a bit of a disconnect… Between the farmers and HOFA… And then HOFA got out of certification… And now farmers could be on the board… But we don’t have many farmers on the board… So we’re really looking for, you know, farmer / producers… To be on the board of HOFA… So… Anyway, so before we do board… Had three board meetings… [Inaudible] Strategic planning… We testified on several bills… At the legislature… Regarding agriculture and food labeling… Submitted several written testimonies on other bills… Our executive committee has been regularly meeting… Moving the organization forward… We’ve organized this event… So, this is the… [Applause] So, this has been a good event… It’s just always really nice to see people at events like this… Talking about organic… Natural and sustainability… And it’s always like a really nice atmosphere… People are always very friendly…people are happy to be here… So it’s just really nice that we could pull this one off… We’ve done quite a bit of strategic planning… I think I said that… Actually, there’s a real need for an organic body… Because HOFA, even as inactive as its been… Received hundreds of phone calls… Received about 200 phone calls this year… And these calls come from people… They’re basically looking for organic farms to work at… They’re asking about seeds… Where they can get organic seeds from… They’re looking for specific products… To help them grow organically… We get two or three… Between two and four email inquiries every week… And they’re seeking contacts… With where they can find farms… Or they’re looking for products… We participated in several events throughout the year…. By having a table, or tables at the events… Or sponsoring them… The Taste of Hawaiian Range event… The Kona Coffee Growers Association expo… The Growing Organics, Moving Hawaii’s Organic Industry Forward Conference… In Kona in October 2013… We’re also really active on social media… Which is Meg’s job… Meg’s role… So HOFA actually has 2270 likes or fans… Which is pretty cool… We get about 50 new fans a month… We’ve got 970 Twitter followers… And we’ve got about 1277 Tweets… So these are quite good statistics… For an organization like HOFA… So we’re actually doing really quite well in the online… For the website… And on the website… We have information on farmers… What products you can get from what farmers… And how to contact them… So our website gets 8200 page views per month… Which is about double of what it was last year… And that’s about 2300 / 2400 unique visitors per month… And we’ve also got Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus…. So that’s quite a lot we did… In 2013…[Inaudible] While I was putting this together… I was sort of feeling… Well, we haven’t done much… But actually that’s not too bad… So I think, big hand for HOFA… [Applause] Ok… Next thing I was going to briefly talk about our status… We’re hoping… We’re very much seeking members… We need more members… We only have about a hundred members… So we need active members… To serve HOFA as board members.

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