Edible Hawaiian Islands’ 2015 Local Hero Awards

Each year we ask our readers and the community at large to share with us the individuals, businesses and organizations they feel are making a difference in our food culture and sustainability. Votes come in from across the State and beyond our shores. Here we proudly share the results, giving credit where credit is due. This year is our 9th Annual Local Hero Awards and we added a NEW category by request: Dessert/Pastry.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 11.54.18 AMFavorite Non-Profit

Hawaii Public Seed Initiative
– The Kohala Center
Kamuela, Hawai‘i Island

“The Hawai`i Public Seed Initiative is honored to be voted one of Edible Hawaiian Islands “Local Heros.” We are proud to have the opportunity to work with an island-wide network of small farmers, gardeners and interested community members who are dedicated to creating and sharing a source of locally adapted seeds for our diverse island microclimates. This growing movement of seed saving, seed education, and community building are vital to building Hawai‘i’s long-term food self-reliance and survival. We are grateful for the on-going support of; The Kohala Center; our partners at UH CTAHR who guide us in our efforts, Russell Nagata, Glenn Teves and Hector Valenzuela and The Ceres Trust which believes that maintaining genetically diverse, locally adapted seeds is the “lynch pin” for a healthy, sustainable food system. Every seed holds the promise of life, it is the responsibility of all of us to carefully and consciously nurture and protect this precious resource for future generations.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 11.54.26 AMFavorite Farm or Farmer

James Simpliciano, Simpli-fresh Farms
Lahaina, Maui

“I kindly thank you all for voting me as your local hero farmer for edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine. I owe my inspirations to my parents, grandparents, and my friends and family here on Maui. As a keiki growing up in the islands, I always enjoyed growing and eating fresh fruits, vegetables, gathering limu, and diving for tako. It really feels inspiring to farm here on the island, bringing a diverse pallette of foods in colors of the rainbow. I appreciate all the visitors abroad who came and spend a moment in time with us at Simpli-fresh produce LLC. My friends and I have farmed over fi ve years here on the West Maui mountains, creating an oasis of fruit and vegetable forests for the families, school gardens and local restaurants. Our passion is to continue to mentor, educate new farmers, gardeners and visitors. We hope to continue to share our love of farming, by the way we Mālama our ʻĀina for generations to come. Mahalo for being part of our lives.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 11.54.37 AMFavorite Artisanal Beverage

Big Island Coffee Roasters
Mt. View, Hawai‘i Island

“When we first moved to Hawai‘i we were just grateful to be farming in warm weather. But, over the years, as we’ve settled in and evolved as a roasting company, we’ve realized the warmth of Hawai‘i comes from the people living here. There’s an authenticity and sincerity of culture in Hawai‘i that’s so strong it inspires the products you can create and the work you do. For that reason, community leadership, particularly in the coffee community, feels like a supportive side-by-side, step-by-step walk with everyone around us: from farmers to baristas, and customers to colleagues. We’re honored.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 11.54.45 AMFavorite Pastry Shop or Pastry Chef

Michelle Karr Ueoka, MW Restaurant
Honolulu, O‘ahu

“Thank you to the readers of edible Hawaiian Islands for this wonderful surprise. I am deeply humbled by this honor. I owe it all to the MW Restaurant ‘ohana and our farmers, purveyors, fishmongers, ranchers and dairy farmers who make our job easy. Without them, creating desserts would be very difficult. Every day it is always a joy to work with them and create new desserts.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 11.54.53 AMFavorite Food Shop

The Locavore Store
Hilo, Hawai‘i Island

“We’re so thrilled! Since the beginning, our community has been incredibly supportive of this endeavor and it is all the more encouraging to have their support made tangible with this award. We are grateful and honored to be included with the very people who are our heroes, who we so admire and respect. For us, this award is a testament of the appreciation for and awareness of all of the unique farms and artisans we represent, their tireless creativity and hard work. There is so much ingenuity on the Big Island, and throughout Hawai‘i, we’ve only just scratched the surface. It’s very rewarding to look back on what we’ve been able to accomplish within our community, by bridging the gap between our small-scale, dedicated food suppliers and crafts-people and the wider public. Mahalo nui loa for such a wonderful affirmation! We look forward to continuing growing our work and relationships.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 11.55.04 AMFavorite Chef or Restaurant

Big Island Brewhaus
Waimea, Hawai‘i Island

“The Big Island Brewhaus team is honored to be recognized as a Local Hero. This recognition is especially dear to owners Tom & Jayne Kerns as it was their dream, when opening a brewpub in Waimea, to create a community gathering place that would welcome residents and visitors of all ages. Big Island Brewhaus is dedicated to supporting local farmers, fisherman, ranchers, musicians and businesses; to brewing and bottling (only in Hawai‘i) quality handcrafted beer and handcrafting locally-based food as delicious and diverse as our beer; to recycling and being as ‘green’ and sustainable as possible. That our efforts and the hard work of our crew are appreciated by our community is a great reward in itself.”