Hawaii Entrepreneur Awards 2023: Ag/Clean Tech Entrepreneur of the Year
An entrepreneur and company whose technology supports a greener future or helps farmers with innovative agricultural practices.
Winner: Kylie Matsuda-Lum and Judah Lum, Kahuku Farms
Fourth-generation farmer Kylie Matsuda-Lum has a message for the produce-buying public: Appreciate more, waste less.
Kahuku Farms has been a family-run operation since the 1940s. When it opened its café in 2010, the idea was to use cosmetically imperfect fruit that wholesalers rejected and would have otherwise gone to waste, which would help them become more diversified and sustainable, says Matsuda-Lum.
“Imperfect produce requires the same amount of work, with a lot less return,” she says. So, at the café, “We take a banana that might have some scarring on the outside and make really yummy smoothies or banana bread.” She and her husband, Judah Lum, have also created a line of small-batch, hand-crafted products with what would’ve been wasted fruits.
The duo also started educational tours on the farm, giving visitors firsthand looks into what it takes to plant, harvest, and get fruits and vegetables into the supermarket.
Finalist: Andrew Trump and Nathan Trump, Island Harvest
Macadamia nut farmers Andrew and Nathan Trump learned from their father that giving back to the community is a priority.
The brothers say that’s why in 2021 they launched Island Harvest‘s first line of organic macadamia products available directly to consumers, with profits going back to the community.
Family-run Island Harvest in Kohala, Hawai‘i’s largest organic macadamia nut farm, has sold in-shell macadamias to processors for nearly 30 years. Its retail products are now in more than 50 stores across Hawai‘i and the San Francisco Bay Area, and all of its net profits go directly into the farm to plant more trees, to community organizations and to employees as bonuses.
“It’s about our community, about Kohala, the people that we grew up with,” Andrew Trump says. “We want to be good stewards of the land. Those values resound rather than any kind of business opportunities.”
Finalist: Kālisi Mausio, Farm Trails
Kālisi Mausio grew up in Tonga with a keen awareness of the role agriculture can play in a local economy. Now on Hawai‘i Island, she has created an agritourism program to assist local farmers and to help mitigate the effect of carbon emissions on the enviroment.
Several years ago, Mausio turned an e-commerce project into a storefront and co-op space in Onomea. Called Onomea Farm Hub, it helps farmers with branding, packaging and selling their products.
“There was a gap for farmers that we wanted to fill,” Mausio says.
Recently, she and her sister, Angela, started Hawai‘i Farm Trails, with a program called Project Kanu, which provides farmers with trees paid for by resort and hotel fees. Hotel guests can also contribute directly.
“We want to address the whole system – not just be a tree-planting project, but assisting farmers with establishing successful agriforests that are also able to sequester carbon emissions,” Mausio says.