Hawaii’s first indoor vertical farm MetroGrow Hawaii has found new markets for its microgreens since the pandemic affected business with hotels and restaurants.
Prior to the pandemic, Metro Grow Hawaii was servicing multiple restaurant accounts and had to pivot by increasing online sales and focusing more on growing leafy greens and fewer garnishes. MetroGrow Hawaii produces over a dozen different types of microgreens such as arugula, kale, and cilantro, specialty greens like baby watercress and basil, and various types of shoots.
“The demand for locally produced food is on the rise, and the public is aware of how agriculture fits into the local economy," says Founder Kerry Kakazu. "By setting an example of a successful alternative farming operation, we hope to not only demonstrate that growing your own food is possible without agricultural land but also inspire others to take part.”
Jesse Cooke, Vice President of Investments and Analytics, Ulupono Initiative adds, “There are about 7,328 farmers operating across the state, with only six percent having a net income greater than $50,000. And, in 2017, more than half of local farmers operated at a loss.”
Cooke is pleased with the outcome of the past legislative session. By requiring its larger institutions – such as DOE schools, hospitals, and prisons –to purchase a percentage of locally produced food, the state is supporting Ulupono Initiative’s local agricultural industry and making fresh, healthy foods more accessible to a larger population.