Community Voices: Food For Thought

By John Livingstone, AICP

There have been two recent articles in the Honolulu Star Advertiser about the challenges of providing good nutrition to our seniors and children.

What if zoning ordinances required new developments and additions to plant something that provides food?  The extra food could be donated to local schools and the food bank.  It’s a simple idea, but requiring one fruit tree for each lot in a subdivision could provide a tremendous amount of food.  There are 15,000 new homes slated to be built in Kapolei alone.

Most cities require landscaped front yards and some require specific street tree plans, but how about developing a city food plan? Similar to an arborist street tree plan, each specific plan area on the island could include a food plan identifying where certain plants and trees would grow best.  Bananas could be planted on one street and mangoes on another.  Small lots could have a planter box with seasonal vegetables or dwarf fruit trees.

Goodies getting grown in the heart of Honolulu; Makiki community garden. Photo: APA Hawaii Chapter, 2020.

If you have ever had your own avocado tree you know that one tree can provide enough avocados for several households. A small planter box can grow more tomatoes and zucchini than one family could possibly eat.

The extra food could be donated to schools or the food bank.  How nice would it be for a tired student to grab a fresh banana between classes for free, instead of some processed food? Some food banks even offer striping your fruit tree in return for keeping the fruit.  Similar to putting out your recycle bin, you could put out your food basket for pickup by the local nonprofit. In the land of rainbows there is no reason that fresh food should not be readily available and affordable.

The views discussed in this article are those of the contributing author and do not reflect those of the APA Hawai‘i Chapter.