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Economy

How Urban Farming Could Change Hawaii

For all its lushness, the state imports the vast majority of its food. Advocates like Hunter Heaivilin think they have the solution.
Hunter Heaivilin
Hunter HeaivilinMeagan Suzuki

On a balmy January afternoon, as he drives northwest along Oahu's sun-washed coast, Hunter Heaivilin happily explains his plans for creating an urban food forest in downtown Honolulu.

A full 2,400 miles from California, Hawaii boasts gasoline and housing prices among the country's highest, but one of the state's biggest imports—and a major factor in the high cost of living for its 1.4 million residents—is food. Estimates suggest that more than 85 percent of Hawaii's food is shipped in from across the Pacific, while a 2012 study by the state found that "replacing just 10 percent of the food Hawaii currently imports would amount to approximately $313 million dollars which would remain in the State."