HONOLULU, Dec. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A partnership of public agencies and non-profit organizations today announced the purchase of more than 1,700 acres of land from the estate of George Galbraith on Oahu, protecting it for farming rather than development.
The land, near Wahiawa northwest of Honolulu, has been fallow since 2004, when Del Monte ceased growing pineapple there.
George Galbraith, a native of Ireland, moved to Hawaii in the late 1800s, and died in 1904. The Bank of Hawaii had most recently managed the estate. As described in the 2011 movie, "The Descendants," state law required the estate to dissolve because of a rule against perpetuities.
There are hundreds of beneficiaries spread around the world, including Hawaii, Canada, Ireland, and the U.S. mainland.The Trust for Public Land, a non-profit land conservation organization, paid $25 million to buy 1,732 acres from the Galbraith estate and has now sold it to two state agencies. More than 1,200 acres went to the state Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC), with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) buying the rest. Studies show the state imports about 85% of its food, and they estimate Hawaii could begin to run out of food in as little as two weeks, should a natural disaster interrupt shipments. "The purchase and protection of the Galbraith land for agricultural uses is game-changing for Hawaii," 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 Director of The Trust for Public Land, said, "I grew up in Wahiawa and my family still lives there. Wahiawa is said to be a place of noise, a gateway to the North Shore where Pele's sister Hiiaka 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." Helen Lind, the mother of blogger/journalist Ian Lind, is one of the Galbraith beneficiaries. He said, "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 Hawaii will benefit from keeping the land in agriculture and protecting it from developers." ADC Executive Director James Nakatani said, "We are 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." Russell S. Kokubun, Chair of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, said, "This is a truly landmark accomplishment—proactively saving high-quality agricultural land for farming—land that seemed destined for the next large development." The Trust for Public Land assembled the $25 million purchase price from a variety of sources, including $13 million from a Hawaii state bond; $4.5 million from the U.S. Army; $4 million from the City and County of Honolulu; $3 million from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; and $500,000 from D.R. Horton-Schuler Division. The U.S. Army money came from the Pentagon's Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI), which protects land around military bases. The land neighbors the Schofield Barracks.