Hali‘imaile Pineapple president to be new GM at A&B

Strand replaces Volner as leader of diversified ag

Darren Strand testifies at a hearing on Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.’s 30-year lease for water from East Maui streams in February 2017. Strand, who had been president of Hali‘imaile Pineapple Co., is moving to Alexander & Baldwin, which was the parent company of the now defunct HC&S. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Darren Strand, president of Hali’imaile Pineapple Co., will be moving to Alexander & Baldwin and becoming the new general manager for diversified agriculture on Maui, A&B announced Tuesday.

He replaces Rick Volner, who resigned in January to become general manager of Maui operations for HC&D, formerly known as Ameron. Volner, who helped oversee the closure of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. in 2016, worked for A&B for 20 years, including six as general manager of A&B subsidiary HC&S. He will continue to be a consultant for A&B on diversified agriculture matters, A&B has said.

Volner had begun the process to transitioning HC&S’ 36,000 acres of sugar cane fields into diversified agricultural uses. Strand will be responsible for continuing those efforts and leading A&B’s diversified agricultural initiatives.

Strand brings nearly two decades of agricultural and leadership experience to A&B’s diversified agriculture efforts. Since 2009, he has been president of Hali’imaile Pineapple Co., which farms about 1,000 acres near Makawao leased from Maui Land & Pine Co. The company sells Maui Gold brand fresh pineapple and was formed in December 2009 after Maui Pineapple Co. closed its doors.

Prior to that, he served as organic research supervisor and director of farm operations for Maui Pineapple Co. for three years and field maintenance superintendent for Del Monte Fresh Produce in Hawaii.

Strand earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry from Western Oregon University and is the president of the Maui County Farm Bureau. He serves on many organizations focusing on agriculture and conservation, including the Hawaii Farm Bureau Association, Grown on Maui Committee, Maui Food Innovation Center Advisory Committee and the Central Maui Soil & Water Conservation District.

“Darren not only has extensive experience in farming operations, he is passionate about ensuring agriculture remains a vital part of Maui’s economy and community,” said Jerrod Schreck, A&B senior vice president of land stewardship. “His knowledge, leadership and commitment will help us build on the early successes we’ve seen in our first year of repurposing our former sugar lands.”

Those activities include forming A&B subsidiary Kulolio Ranch, a pasture-raised, naturally grazed, grass-fed beef operation in Central Maui. The ranch increased its pasturing program from 300 to more than 1,000 animals over the past year.

Other projects include:

• 250 acres committed to an orchard project with TerViva to explore the pongamia tree’s potential as a renewable fuel.

• 500 acres committed to growing energy crops to help power Maui County’s wastewater treatment facility.

• More than 800 acres in active negotiations with Maui County to develop an agricultural park, which would provide opportunities for farmers interested in working smaller plots of land.

• More than 15,000 acres in active negotiations for agricultural leases, with potential uses including coffee, energy crops and locally grown vegetables.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

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