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THE 23rd ANNUAL HOT 25
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A.G. Kawamura

By Kimberly A. PorrazzoPublished: November 01, 2012

Founding member Orange County Produce LLC, Irvine
Hot factor: The former Secretary of Agriculture is heading a farm and food lab at the Great Park and is developing a biofuel project for the U.S. Solar Decathalon


Never underestimate the guy you see selling oranges at that roadside produce stand. One day he just might become California’s Secretary of Agriculture. That’s exactly what happened to A.G. Kawamura when the former beekeeper and farmer was appointed to the state’s highest agricultural post.
 
When his term ended, he returned to his farm roots, this time to change the world. While in college, Kawamura became interested in world hunger. He believed that the solutions would have to come from agriculture. That rekindled his interest in the family business.

Kawamura, along with his partner (his brother), have farmed hundreds of acres through the family company, Orange County Produce. As the company grew, the region continued to develop, squeezing out farmland. The lessons he learned from O.C.’s urbanization are now taught to local farmers.

“The idea that agriculture can only be big or small or organic no longer fits; it has to be all the above,” Kawamura says. “We’re showing that at the Great Park, where we’re working on the Farm and Food Lab. That project is run by the city of Irvine. A citizen can show up and say, ‘I can do that in my backyard.’ With our 100-acre farm, we hope that ag experts from around the world can show up and say, ‘I can do that in my country.’”

Kawamura is also leading a biofuel project and will help power the U.S. Solar Decathlon, slated to take place next year at the Great Park.




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