National Farmers Union began in 1902 as a grass-roots organization of farmers concerned with stability and farm income.
NFU organized around three components - cooperatives, education and legislation - in support of food grown by local communities. During the next 100 years, changes in farming reflected changes in America. Communities began to disappear when small-scale local agriculture was replaced by large-scale industrialized farming.
National Farmers Union has continued as a farm community support organization. Now that the pendulum of change is swinging back toward the values that are associated with communities, NFU is taking a leadership role in being a voice for local agriculture.
Hawaii formed a chapter of NFU, Hawaii Farmers Union United, three years ago. Since then, hundreds of people have gathered monthly to eat, learn and celebrate food locally grown on Maui.
Maui Farmers Union United is for people who value farming practices that regenerate the soil while producing and consuming nutrient-rich food.
"It's all about the food" is our motto. At each meeting, along with the amazing loca-vore potluck, are several 15-minute educational and empowering presentations with topics ranging from growing and preparing foods to how indigenous people used the heavens to guide their farming practices.
Oahu, Kauai, Big Island and Maui Farmers Union United are affiliated with National Farmers Union under the umbrella of Hawaii Farmers Union United.
Legislatively, NFU is a grass-roots organization, which means every state and every chapter can decide their own policy. For instance, Hawaii and Nebraska may have different views on a farm issue. With the autonomy of a grass-roots organization, HFUU intends to be a bridge-builder as communities rebuild local agriculture. The bridge that HFUU supports is called respect - respect for each person and respect for the nature of land and water.
MFUU asserts to be the choice and the voice of the local farming community that values and desires to grow its own food on Maui. Community thrives around nutrient-dense food. Local agriculture needs cooperatives, education and legislation to thrive.
MFUU meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at Haiku Community Center at 6 p.m.
Go to mauifarmersunionunited.weebly.com for more information and to receive notice of meetings and events. Our meetings have a family feeling, please join us.
* Bill Greenleaf is an officer on the board of the Maui Farmers Union United and has been growing food with his wife, Marta, on Greenleaf Farm in Makawao for eight years.