$25,000 Ag-Tourism Grant to Assist Ka`u Farmers
The Hawaii Ag-Tourism Association has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture to provide technical assistance to farmers and ranchers in the Ka`u district. The Rural Business Enterprise Grant is part of a USDA program to promote economic development in rural areas.
“We’re overjoyed to be awarded this grant because it will allow HATA to bring its Ag-Tourism development program to the Ka`u District,” said Lani Medina Weigert, HATA president. “Farmers who desire to diversify their incomes can now have the technical assistance and support to make a tremendous economic impact on their bottom lines,” she added.
Weigert herself knows a thing or two about developing successful ag-tourism operations. Before becoming president of HATA, she was co-founder of the Ali`i Kula Lavender Farm on Maui, one of most popular ag-tourism enterprises in the state.
The year-long program will start in September and will include initial farm assessments, a series of workshops, development of business and strategic plans, on-site evaluations and website support.
Most of the participants are leaseholders on land owned by Ka`u Farm and Ranch Company but the program is open to any farmers or ranchers in the Ka`u District.
“I’m excited at the prospect of working with HATA to provide the skills and technical training that will boost economic development through Ag-tourism and value-added activities in the Ka`u District,” said Chris Manfredi, Manager of the Ka`u Farm and Ranch Company, in a letter of support for the project.
Weigert reports that similar HATA training projects are in the works with the Kamehameha Schools – Land Division and through the Hawaii County Office of Economic Development.
Farmers interested in the program should contact Weigert at [email protected].