As people fight about biotech vs organic, the real future of agriculture continues to unfold, with barely a murmur of dissent. I'm talking about the proliferation of gentleman's estates — euphemistically characterized as “ag subdivisions” — throughout windward Kauai.
They've consumed Kilauea, Waipake and Moloaa, crept through Aliomanu and Kealia, and now they're taking over Kapahi. Growing Greens Nursery, a true agricultural use, is getting squeezed out for “farm” lots that will start at $250,000 each.
First, though, all the big old camphor trees are being cut down and ground into mulch, their pungent scent mingling with the diesel smoke from heavy equipment. Who knows how many birds and wild bee hives were destroyed?
This particular travesty is the work of developer Chris Singleton, whose legacy includes disinterring Hawaiian burials for that garish Waipouli Beach Resort across from Safeway. But make no mistake — he's not the only one, and this farm lot scam goes down with the county's full knowledge and blessing.
Councilman Gary Hooser says the biotech companies aren't paying their share of property taxes. They should — and so should all the gentleman “farmers” with their fake “farm dwellings,” fruit trees, “yardens” and hobby horses. Why are we letting these wealthy landowners slide as they eat our precious ag land?
When I see some of these gentrifiers — and the Realtors who cater to them, like Mimsy Bouret and Neal Norman — stand up in red shirts and say, "we must protect the aina," well, it's a little hard to stomach.
I've always been staunchly opposed to biotech, and I'd like to see the chemical companies move on. Still, at least those fields can be remediated and returned to meaningful production. Once the land is developed into gentleman's estates, it's gone forever. And please, don't give me the bullshit about how maybe they'll let some peasant come in and work it. Mow it, yeah. Farm it, no.
Our ag land is slipping through our fingers, and into the pockets of the developers, the realtors and the contractors who profit from them.
But apparently that core issue — the actual protection of the land itself — isn't sexy enough, or “important” enough to gain the attention of the Council and activists. So while they fight and posture and pander and call themselves heroes, our agricultural destiny is being defined by those who equate green with cash and farm land with hefty profits.
Wake up, folks. You may think the "enemy" is on the westside, but from where I sit on the eastside, it's right in my back yard.