CORNER BROOK — Newfoundland and Hawaii have a lot in common in spite of obvious differences in weather, according to a mother-daughter team from the Pacific island.
Lani Medina Weigert, president of Hawaii AgriTourism Association and an agritourism marketer, says both islands are similar because islands tend to be isolated.
Also CEO and partner for Ali’i Kula Lavender, a 13-acre lavender farm in Hawaii, Weigert has been in the business for eight years. She has 30 years of tourism experience as well.
“Most of our food comes on a ship,” she said. “Our big industry there is tourism and agriculture. The challenges are very much the same.”
Waigert is almost complete a tour across Canada with her daughter Pomai, for the promotion of marketing and agritourism training put in place by agriculture producers and the Canadian Government.
The Hawaii AgriTourism Association is a non-profit organization committed to helping farmers who want to learn how to supplement their incomes by adding agritourism activities to a farm. The purpose of the tour is to expand the skill of the farmer from a production mentality to a service mentality or increase profits by selling retail directly to customer verses wholesale.
Weigert was in Corner Brook Thursday promoting agritourism at the Glynmill Inn to local farmers.
She has never been to Newfoundland before.
“This is the furthest north east I’ve ever been in my life,” she said. “I love it. This is where they must make the Hallmark cards for Christmas. I never seen this much snow.”
Weigert said Hawaii’s food security is three per cent and Newfoundland’s is five — food security meaning the availability of food that is grown in a place.
“Farming is very hard to stay in business in the islands,” she said. “It’s difficult for farmers to remain in agriculture if they don’t have another way of supplementing their income.
“Adaptability is key,” said Weigert. “Adapt or perish.”
Pomai, marketing and community relations for Ali’i Kula, has never been to Newfoundland before either.
“I love it here, it’s beautiful,” she said. “I’m actually the most taken by all the icicles.”
“For agriculture in general, locally and globally, it’s important we that we bridge the generational gap,” she said. “Parents and grandparents want to send their kids away and get out of the industry ... we really need to encourage the next generation to get back into the field.”
The next step for mother and daughter is St. John’s, where they will complete their Canadian tour and return to Hawaii.