PAVING THE WAY TOWARDS A GREEN AG INDUSTRY:
HOW TWO LOCAL YOUTH TOOK SUSTAINABLE FOOD PRODUCTION INTO THEIR OWN HANDS
They say that the future of our Islands’ agriculture industry rests in the hands of the next generation, but thereʻs two local youth who are already carrying the torch. Cousins Anthony Mau and Steven Yee joined forces nearly one year ago in hopes to experiment with an innovative farming operation that would encourage more sustainable food production. Today, they are the proud owners of Kupu Place Aquaponics, a 2,000 ft2 commercial farm based in Nu’uanu that specializes in producing a variety of organic leafy greens.
Prior to its establishment in September 2017, Anthony was working on his Ph.D. in Aquaculture of Opihi at University of Hawaii at Mānoa, and Steven was running a new ecological landscaping business called Mala Organics. Together they landed upon aquaponics, the perfect integrative system that marries their unique backgrounds in horticulture and aquaculture.
“We chose to farm because we want to feed an important community from which we were raised. We understand the importance of eating right, and therefore we must work to improve accessibility to good food. We value local, high-quality produce, and it has been a dream to share something of our own that we could be proud of,” Anthony said.
Using state-of-the-art technology, Kupu Place Aquaponics grows fresh, high-quality produce that maintains a minimal impact on the land. Their tanks foster a symbiotic environment for both their fish and crops, creating thriving conditions for both parties that ultimately prevent water waste. Anthony shared that his farm uses 90 percent less water than the conventional, land-based operation, attracts fewer pests and requires zero pesticides.
The dynamic duo see aquaponics (and other system-based methods) as the new-wave of agriculture in Hawai’i. Their small team continues to work diligently to promote greener farming operations and educate the community about the importance of buying local foods versus imported.
When asked what their biggest piece of advice to local consumers was, the two shared:
“Support local farmers with your choices and remember that fresh, local veggies often last longer than any mainland derived produce. Also, local farmers won't feed you things they wouldn't give to their own ʻohana! Go buy from Local Inside CSA or directly from the farmers themselves!”
For more information on Kupu Place Aquaponics, follow their Facebook and Instagram at @KupuPlaceAquaponics.