Galbraith Estate in Central O’ahu Protected For Farming

A partnership of public agencies and private non-profit organizations today announced that they have purchased more than 1,700 acres of land from the Estate of George Galbraith in Central O'ahu, and the land will be used for farming.

The land, near the town of Wahiawā in an area traditionally known as Līhu'e, has been fallow since 2004, when Del Monte ceased growing pineapple.

The Trust for Public Land, a non-profit land conservation organization, bought the 1,732 acres from the Galbraith Estate and then transferred the land to two Hawai'i public agencies. More than 1,200 acres went to the state Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC). The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) received the remaining over 500 acres which surround Kūkaniloko, the royal birthing site that is one of the most significant cultural sites on O'ahu. The properties can only be used for agriculture.

Hawai'i imports about 85% of its food, according to numerous studies, which also estimate the state might begin running out of food within two weeks should the food supply be interrupted, such as by natural disaster.

"The purchase and protection of the Galbraith land for agricultural uses is game-changing for Hawai'i," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. "This will allow us to reduce our reliance on food imports and increase our food security – an important part of my New Day Initiative. Preserving agricultural land and producing our own food benefits us as a society."

Lea Hong, Hawaiian Islands State Director of The Trust for Public Land, said, "I grew up in Wahiawā and my family still lives there. Wahiawā is said to be a place of noise, a gateway to the North Shore where Pele's sister Hi'iaka saw the ocean crashing against the coast and heard the resounding waves. Thanks to the partnership of many individuals and organizations, this gateway will remain undeveloped for future generations."

George Galbraith, a native of Ireland, moved to Hawai'i in the late 1800s, and died in 1904. A professional trustee, the Hawaiian Trust Co. (now the Bank of Hawaii) managed his assets. As in the 2011 movie, "The Descendants," the Estate is required to dissolve due to the rule against perpetuities. But the dissolution was delayed pending the sale of the land, which had been leased for pineapple until 2004, when Del Monte ended cultivation on the property.

Beneficiaries include hundreds of descendants of Galbraith's friends and family, who are spread throughout the world, including Hawai'i, Canada, Ireland, and the U.S. mainland. Blogger/journalist Ian Lind's mother, Helen Lind, is one of those beneficiaries: "My mother, at 98, has waited a long time to see this trust dissolved and its assets distributed to the beneficiaries. And she is particularly pleased that this land sale is a win-win deal. Beneficiaries will benefit from the proceeds of the sale, and all the people of Hawai'i will benefit from keeping the land in agriculture and protecting it long-term from exploitation by developers."

ADC Executive Director, James Nakatani said, "ADC is looking forward to begin preparing the land and installing necessary infrastructure. Our plan is to provide both large and small farming operations with long-term licenses. There will also be an opportunity for farmers on neighbor islands to expand their operations on Oahu."

Land preparation will occur over the next several months. For growers, potential sources of water on the property include a plantation-era well, and Lake Wilson. Earlier this year, the legislature set aside $750,000 for potential water irrigation planning and design for the Galbraith land.

Russell S. Kokubun, Chair of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, commented, "This is a truly landmark accomplishment – proactively saving high-quality agricultural land for farming – land that seemed destined for the next large development. We are pleased to have played a role in keeping agricultural land productive for generations to come."

Kūkaniloko is tied to generations of chiefly Hawaiian bloodlines and its history extends as far back as mai ka pō mai (from the dark, origin). Kamana'opono Crabbe, Chief Executive Officer said, "Given the unique perspectives of our partners, OHA demonstrated its commitment to our beneficiaries and our capability as land owners through integrity and above all, aloha. This represents another birth – OHA will take these historic lands and protect our wahi kapu, Kūkaniloko, while giving birth to sustainable agriculture that is consistent with our cultural values."

The Trust for Public Land assembled the $25 million purchase price from a variety of sources, including $13 million from a state general obligation bond; $4.5 million from the U.S. Army; $4 million from the City and County of Honolulu Clean Water & Natural Lands Fund; $3 million from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; and $500,000 from D.R. Horton – Schuler Division.

Representative Marcus Oshiro, Chair of the State House of Representative's Finance Committee and leader of the effort to secure the state's $13 million bond, said, "The Galbraith land has been threatened with development since the 1990s and I am grateful to the many public and private partners that made this project a reality. Former Senators Gerald Hagino and Robert Bunda, as well as Governors Waihe'e, Cayetano, and Lingle all supported preservation of these lands and deserve some credit. This is a good textbook example of a successful public and private partnership."

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, said, "As a former City Councilmember, I was proud to support the City's funding for this, and I am working now in my current role in the Legislature with the Governor, Representative Marcus Oshiro, and other partners to revitalize agriculture in central O'ahu, creating jobs and economic opportunity. The agriculture industry has been hampered with land availability, long-term lease options, and access to infrastructure which led us to plan and develop the Whitmore Village Agricultural Development Plan. The Galbraith lands are critical to the plan as it will provide hundreds of acres for local farmers to increase their production, option to enter into long-term leases, and access to critical infrastructure."

The U.S. Army's funding for this effort came from the Pentagon's Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI), which is chartered to preserve land from development around military installations. The Galbraith land neighbors the Army's Schofield Barracks and its training areas. Military helicopter flight paths pass over the Galbraith land.

"The Army is proud to have contributed to the purchase of adjacent lands that will add to Hawai'i's future food security, while at the same time, continuing Schofield Barracks' critical mission of training our Soldiers with the skills necessary to deploy and return home safely," said Col. Daniel W. Whitney, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawai'i.

Senator Daniel K. Inouye, senior member of Hawai'i's Congressional delegation stated: "As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am very pleased to support federal funding for the Department of Defense for land acquisitions and easements that provide for sufficient buffers to allow our troops to train to ensure they are prepared for volatile and ever-changing missions, while not disturbing nearby landowners and residents. This is a win-win partnership. The added benefit of this purchase is that it supports Hawai'i's small farmers and our urgent need for greater food security."

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka said: "I have seen Oahu change so much since I was a boy. As our population has grown, we have lost so many open spaces and agricultural lands to development. As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and co-chair of the Senate Army Caucus, I am so pleased that the Army is contributing to this purchase of over 1,700 acres of prime farm land. This purchase assures that this precious resource will be preserved future generations. And as the first Native Hawaiian in the U.S. Senate and Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, it is so meaningful to me that the land surrounding K?kaniloko, a historically significant and sacred site that is so much a part of the roots of our Hawaiian culture, will remain undeveloped."

Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono commented: "It is encouraging news to see that some 1,750-acres of fertile central Oahu land will now be dedicated for use by island farmers. At a time when we need to find ways to be more sustainable, the announcement that the state is in the process of purchasing the Galbraith Estate land exclusively for agricultural use moves us in the right direction toward growing more of the food we eat. I applaud the efforts of those entities that made this deal possible, particularly the leadership of Wahiawā Representative Marcus Oshiro for his years of work in making this land purchase a reality."

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who serves on the House Natural resources Committee, said "Preserving these lands in agriculture is an important step toward ensuring our state's sustainable future. Given Hawaii's limited inventory of land, we need to be at the forefront of responsible development practices if we intend to reduce our dependence on imported foods and maintain our community's quality of life. And while these are issues that we see all across the country, Hawaii can be a role model for other states that are finding that they need to balance agriculture with development. I thank and congratulate the agencies and organizations that have worked together to make this possible."

The City and County of Honolulu's Clean Water & Natural Lands Fund contributed $4 million to the purchase price. O'ahu voters established the Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund by passing Charter Amendment 3 in 2006. Every year, half-a-percent (.5%) of the County's real property taxes are set aside for the conservation of land, including agricultural lands. "As Mayor, I am proud that the City and County of Honolulu contributed to this important project. There is an ever more pressing need to ensure that Hawai'i can grow more of its own food, and diversify its economy," stated Mayor Peter Carlisle. "The Galbraith lands are an important step in the right direction."

City Council Chair Ernie Martin stated: "The residents of Central O'ahu and the North Shore have wanted to preserve this land for productive agriculture for many decades, and I am pleased to have played a role in supporting these efforts. With the purchase and transfer of the land from private to public ownership, we have ensured that this land will never be developed. It will now become a valuable part of our growing agricultural inventory that will boost our efforts toward food and energy sustainability."

D.R. Horton – Schuler Division has contributed $500,000 for the land acquisition, and will be providing another $500,000 to assist with soil preparation and infrastructure for farming. In addition to providing land for more small farms, the acquisition will allow the possibility for multiple farmers at D.R. Horton – Schuler Division's Ho'opili development to transition to spaces outside the project.

"Over the years, we have listened to many community members express their desire to promote farming and support local farmers," said Mike Jones, president of D.R. Horton – Schuler Division. "As we work towards building sustainable lifestyles in Hawai'i, we are proud to join in this partnership to advance food security, preserve agriculture land outside the urban growth boundary, and support our farmers."

The Johnson 'Ohana Charitable Foundation, founded in 2008 by Jack and Kim Johnson to promote positive and lasting change within communities, has donated $10,000 through The Trust for Public Land to support small-farmers on the Galbraith lands.

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.

The Trust for Public Land has been working in Hawai'i since 1979 and has conserved over 42,000 acres throughout the islands. The Trust for Public Land focuses its efforts in Hawai'i on voluntarily conserving shoreline/coastal lands, native/heritage lands that perpetuate Hawaiian culture, and working lands that contribute to Hawai'i's self-sufficiency.

Contributors to $25 million purchase price

$13 million, State of Hawai'i general revenue bond
$4.5 million, U.S. Army Garrison Hawai'i/DOD buffer program
$4 million, City and County of Honolulu Clean Water & Natural Lands Fund
$3 million, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
$500,000, D.R. Horton – Schuler Division
$25 million, TOTAL