With an abundance of farms (and farmers markets) around the island, each specialising in their own range of homegrown goods – think coffee, lavender, goat cheese, cacao, pineapple, organic fruits and vegetables, sugar cane, grapes, dragonfruit, taro, flowers and more – it’s no wonder the craft farming industry on Maui is one of the best, and most diverse, in the country.
But besides being a favourite go-to for locals and tourists to find their next meal, morning coffee, herb plant, or craft cocktail and main dish ingredients, Maui’s farms bring an array of advantages to the island. Today we give you a list of key benefits stemming from Maui’s homegrown goodness, and even more reasons to support the local efforts of Maui’s talented craft farm community.
Maui’s Homegrown Goodness
With the semi-recent shift from booming corporate businesses to a preference for smaller, more locally-recognized shops, restaurants, boutique hotels and activities, the possibilities for Maui’s creative tourism efforts have become much further-reaching than anticipated just a decade ago.
While Hawaii – and more specifically, Maui – has never been much for hopping on the corporate bandwagon that sweeps most popular cities on the mainland, the growth of locally owned and operated craft businesses brings many positive aspects to the island and its vibrant community.
Promotes Sustainable Agritourism
In consideration of the 2017 World Tourism Day theme of ‘Sustainable Tourism,‘ we believe in the importance of leaving a positive impact on the environment, society and local economy. By providing group transportation in our Maui Craft Tours van, giving each guest a reusable cup and tote bag, and visiting businesses focusing only on farm-to-table and farm-to-glass food and drinks, we take pride in doing our part for sustainable tourism.
Agritourism (sometimes called agroecotourism) is another form of ecotourism which goes a step further in that it focuses on educational travel experiences organized around farming and small-scale production items. While destinations like Puerto Rico, Malta, Nepal, Canada and Kenya have been building their agritourism activities for years, Hawaii is now realizing the benefit it provides to everyone involved, from the farm owners to tour operators and even the travelers themselves.
The fact that ecotourism and nature tourism grew 3x faster than the global tourism industry as a whole by 2004 is just another indicator that travelers appreciate sustainable efforts as much as we do!
Enhances ‘Shop Local’ Efforts
Because Maui is still a relatively small island of close-knit communities, local entrepreneurs often rely on support from one another. Even in instances of businesses who may compete in niche product or tour activity categories, Maui residents realize the importance of helping out our neighbor. A little aloha goes a long way, after all!
Even better, visitors and locals alike have come to appreciate the idea of “shopping local,” and choosing to purchase items made locally by residents. Not only does it create a wealth of unique souvenirs and items found nowhere else on earth, but it boosts the efforts of the local community by giving back to its residents instead of corporate entities based elsewhere.
By purchasing a bottle of Ocean Organic Vodka, MauiWine, or some Goats Milk Soap, Coffee Rub and Maui Gold® Pineapple – or even telling your friends about it! – you’ve helped Maui’s own ‘shop local’ community in more ways than you know.
Paves the Way for New Entrepreneurs
With the recent closure of Alexander & Baldwin’s sugar cane operations, which previously took up a whopping 36,000 acres of prime land in central Maui, it is currently a crucial time for the delegation of new agriculture operations on the island, and an issue likely not to be solved anytime soon.
Because of the obvious financial success of Maui’s various craft farms, however, we expect to see growing numbers of entrepreneurs in the sustainable farming and agriculture industries within the next few years. While it takes an impressive amount of start-up capital and a well thought-out business plan to create a successful sustainable farming concept in such a costly state, the growing number of existing farms on Maui prove it can be done, and can be done well.
Benefits the Local Community & Economy
When one successful business opens in a specific neighborhood – no matter how remote or desolate – chances are more will follow. The great thing about Maui, however, is that even the most remote areas are sought out for their beauty and, in the case of farmers or craft F&B businesses, prime volcanic soil conditions and/or tourism potential.
For example, if there weren’t an existing successful plantation in Waikapu, chances are there wouldn’t also be a coffee roasting house, farm-to-table restaurant, zipline tour and wedding facility on the same property, or a plan to revitalize the surrounding area with an elementary school, homes, county parks and retail center within the next decade.
In addition, since farmers are often not represented in many political leadership and legislator capacities, the growing number of successful farms means their impact can’t be ignored forever. Agritourism ensures a more educated, engaged community that’s connected with the reality of local food and beverage production, and the impact local legislation can play in that role.
Reduces Negative Environmental Impact
While the argument could be made that additional visitors to local craft farms increases vehicles, foot traffic and litter in the area, we tend to think the opposite. Supporting these businesses through learning about the behind-the-scenes processes and tasting the (sometimes literally) fruits of their labor means you’re less likely to be spending your day – and money – sipping coffee in a Starbucks, shopping at Target, and leaving your Miller Lite bottles in the sand (not that you’d ever do that anyway!).
Supporting small businesses is not only appreciated by our Maui Craft Tours staff and the local community, but it ensures you’re supporting those working hard to reduce their negative environmental impact in whatever ways possible, from utilizing ingredients grown in an onsite garden to opting for reusable tasting glasses instead of plastic cups.
Mahalo for reading our blog about the benefits of Maui’s homegrown goodness, and we hope you will spread the word and consider booking one of our top Maui tour options on your next trip to The Valley Isle. Aloha!