Given that nearly 90% of the food available in Hawai‘i is imported, and the number of farms in the state and across the U.S. is declining while the average age of farmers is increasing, The Kohala Center’s Beginning Farmer-Rancher Development Program is dedicated to training new farming families on Hawai‘i Island and inspiring island youth to consider careers in agriculture. The Kohala Center also serves as the host site for GoFarm Hawai‘i on Hawai‘i Island.
By motivating and training the next generation of farmers, these programs seek to increase local food production, decrease dependency on imports, diversify Hawai‘i Island’s rural economy, create jobs, and move Hawai‘i toward greater food self-reliance.
Beginning Farmer-Rancher Development Program
The Kohala Center created the Beginning Farmer-Rancher Development Program in 2012 with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture and the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research & Development. Through partnerships with several local government agencies and academic institutions, the program has recruited, trained, and supported more than 100 new farmers in the Hāmākua region of Hawai‘i Island to date. The next cohort of the Beginning Farmer-Training Program will begin in January 2018.
Our intensive nine-month educational program provides 188 hours of classroom training, workshops, on-farm instruction, field trips, and online materials. Classroom instruction and workshops occur at rotating sites around the island, including the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center in Hāmākua, Kohala Village Hub in Kohala, Yano Hall in Kona, and the Ka‘ū Community Center. University of Hawai‛i researchers, extension agents, and other agricultural experts will cover subjects such as soil fertility management, plant nutrition, livestock production, food safety, composting and cover cropping, business planning and financing, marketing of agricultural products, and much more.
Our next training course will start on January 13, 2018 and meet every other Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Honoka‘a at the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center and other locations as announced.
On-farm instruction, mentorship, and field trips will take place at TKC’s demonstration farms in Hāmākua and North Kohala, two partner sites in Kailua-Kona and Ka‘ū, and a variety of farms, ranches, and processing facilities. A final component of our program consists of distance learning, including videos and reading materials, and a student-select assignment. Upon successful completion of the program our staff can assist you in applying for farm leases and capital to successfully produce, market, and distribute your crops.
GoFarm Hawai‘i @ The Kohala Center
GoFarm Hawai‘i is accepting applications for AgXposure, which aims to provide aspiring farmers with experiences that convey the lifestyle and knowledge areas important to farming. If you’re interested in GoFarm’s upcoming four-month AgSchool, participation in AgXposure is required. AgXposure runs Saturdays in February (beginning February 4) from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Kohala Center’s Demonstration Farm in Honoka‘a. Up to 20 applicants will be selected. There is no cost to attend. Deadline to apply is January 29. Contact TKC@gofarmhawaii.org for more information.