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Farmer-Rancher Training Program Offered

December 18, 2013, 2:59 PM HST
* Updated December 18, 3:01 PM
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Ku I Ka Mana, a beginning farmer-rancher training program administered by The Kohala Center, is accepting applications from prospective students for an 18-week course conducted in Honokaa beginning Friday, Jan. 31.

Classes take place Friday evenings at the North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center and Saturday mornings at Ka Hua Aina, The Kohala Center’s farm training site.

This will be the Center’s third cohort in a two-year initiative to recruit, train and support at least 40 new farmers by the end of 2014.

Beginning farmers who successfully complete the training program and create viable farm and business plans will be able to work with Ku I Ka Mana staff to obtain leased farmland, should they not already have land on which to farm or ranch.

Although no previous farming experience is required, preference is given to veterans and to applicants who have taken steps to become agricultural producers but would benefit from a comprehensive, hands-on curriculum.

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The course covers a wide range of critical subject areas such as measuring and building soil fertility; irrigation; how to create inputs like biochar, compost, compost tea, and indigenous microorganisms; crop rotation strategies; pest management; pollination; and the business side of farming — marketing, accounting, budgeting, and record-keeping.

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Ku I Ka Mana is a partnership between The Kohala Center, local government agencies, academic institutions and leading agricultural professionals, funded primarily by a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that supports new farmer training and education programs in 27 states. The County of Hawai‘i provided matching funds that enabled The Kohala Center to secure the grant.

“Hawai‘i Island is unique in that we have an abundance of fertile, farmable land and a year-round growing season, yet we import a substantial majority of our food from at least 2,300 miles away,” said Derrick Kiyabu, Ku I Ka Mana program director.

“So issues such as food security, fluctuating energy costs, and time required to transport perishable foods make increasing local food production a priority,” Kiyabu said.

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Application materials may be downloaded here. The deadline is Friday, Jan. 10.

For more information contact Kiyabu at [email protected] or 808-220-2312.

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