Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Names Recipients of Appreciation Awards

The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers names the recipients of its appreciation awards, given annually to supporters of Hawaii’s tropical fruit industry. They are Chef Stephen Rouelle of The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii; Chef George Gomes Jr. of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel; Russell Ruderman and Island Naturals; Randyl Rupar of the annual mango and avocado festivals and Dr. Angela Keppler and Frank Rust, authors for the up-and-coming book, “The World of Bananas in Hawaii: Then and Now.”

HTFG Roundtable-Sharing tips for the development of farmer-chef relationships at the Big Island meeting are from left: James Babian, executive chef Four Seasons Resort Hualalai; Jason Koppinger, former chef of The Ritz Carlton Residences Malaysia; Ken Love, HTFG president; and Dr. Kent Fleming, UH adjunct professor and professor of Ag and Resource Economics at Oregon State University

Recipients were named at the recent 21st Annual Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference that opened at the Keauhou Beach Resort and continued on Oahu, Kauai and Maui. Joining the HTFG board is Ian Cole of Maui and Dave Longacre of East Hawaii.

SHREE PADRE of India, keynote speaker at this year's Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference, inspects purple passion fruit at Kupa'a Organic Farm on Maui. Photo courtesy HTFG

With the theme, “The Time for Quality and Profitability,” the four gatherings headlined Shree Padre of India. The farmer/journalist is known for his passion for water conservation and rainwater harvesting. He is a specialist in value-added products.

Other presenters, who also met with growers on all four islands, included fig expert Howard Garrison and pomegranate guru Jeff Moresfelder, both of the USDA in Davis, California.

The three-day meeting on the Big Isle included a report on “Understanding Risk Management and the Cost of Production” by Dr. Kent Fleming of UH Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. In addition, there were 12 breakout sessions on topics like Selling to Wholesalers and Ag Tourism; a lively Farmer-Chef Roundtable with members of the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Assn.; and a sweet plantation tour of the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Keauhou.

Led by Bob Cooper, the conference field trip on the Big Island was a plantation visit to Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Keauhou

On Kauai, attendees visited the National Tropical Botanical Garden to visit with Dr. Diane Ragone, director of HTBG’s Breadfruit Institute. Other field trips included stops at Kupa’a Organic Farm and Pali-o-Waipio on Maui and Frankie’s Nursery in Waimanalo.

During the roundtable, James Babian, executive chef at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, advised growers to give chefs a weekly market list of fruit available now and in the near future. “Relationships with growers have allowed us to embrace the use of local products and grow our menu around what’s available,” he detailed. He also said the use of fresh fruit in beverages is trending.

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