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Local Power

Big Island

Aloha Green grows and ships tropical foliage, exotic fruits and other agricultural products from its 2,300 acres along the Hamakua Coast. But now the company is researching non-edible jatropha as a biofuel crop.

Nearby, Hamakua Springs Farms is in the process of developing its own hydropower, harnessing the 140 inches of annual rainfall and diverting it through a flume fitted with a turbine. Hamakua’s business model? It ships hydroponically grown vegetables to top restaurants and supermarkets across the islands.

How did farmers get involved in produc-ing energy? Maybe more than on any other Island, Big Island farmers feel the pain of rising fuel costs, as their cost of moving goods jumps up with every tank of gas in a pickup truck logging miles on this biggest of the Hawaiian Islands. That’s why on Nov. 6 and 7, the Malama Aina Festival will bring together Big Island growers and energy businesses to share ideas.

The two-day festival in downtown Hilo aims to increase awareness about the need of farmers to solve their energy challenges themselves. “Alternative energy is no longer a luxury, but a necessity,” says co-chair Steve Shropshire, owner of Aloha Green. “We want to learn more about what people can do for themselves on a small scale and lessen dependency on outside resources.”

For more information, visit the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce online at

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