East Hawaii News

The Kohala Center Seeks Fall Farm Program Applicants

September 24, 2015, 1:39 PM HST
* Updated September 24, 1:40 PM
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Two of The Kohala Center’s fall programs, which place emphasis on the next generation of farmers, are seeking prospective student applicants.

The Kohala Center’s Beginning Farmer-Rancher Development Program is accepting applications for its sixth cohort. Beginning Nov. 7 and every other Saturday thereafter, students will meet with University of Hawai’i researchers, extension agents, and other agricultural experts to cover subjects like production planning, farm design, soil management, composing and vermicomposting, cover cropping, business planning, and marketing and sales.

No previous experience is required to participate, but the program will be offered first to applicants who have already taken steps towards becoming agricultural producers and who would benefit from a comprehensive curriculum.

The course will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and student participants will take trips to local farms, hands-on farm field days, and farm apprenticeship opportunities.

The center will allow students who successfully complete the course and create viable farm and business plans to receive one-on-one technical assistance from its Rural and Cooperative Business Development Service Program, which would access start-up capital and access to land.

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In addition to the sixth cohort, the Center will offer students and recent graduates who are interested in sustainable agriculture the eighth cohort of its weeklong High School Agriculture Internship Program from Oct. 5-9 in Honoka’a from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

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The interns will introduce various aspects of agriculture in Hawai’i and learn about pre-contact indigenous farm systems to model local, sustainable, and organic agriculture. During the program, students will gain hand-on experience as see everything from “seed-to-sale” and visit agricultural businesses that are successful.

Once the sixth cohort interns complete the program, they will receive a $125 stipend.

“Our farmer training program helps to prepare adults who’ve made the decision to start farming commercially, while our high school intern program is intended to inspire a new generation of local food producers to lead us into the future,” said program director Derrick Kiyabu. “Both programs were designed in an effort to move Hawai‘i towards greater food self-reliance by training and motivating the next generations of local food producers.

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“Here in Hawai‘i we import nearly 90 percent of our food, the number of farms in the state and across the U.S. is declining, while the average age of our farmers is increasing. We and our partners are dedicated to training and supporting new farming families on Hawai‘i Island and inspiring island youth to consider careers in agriculture in an effort to increase local food production, decrease dependency on imports, and diversify our rural economy.”

Those interested in applying for the eighth cohort program should apply online by Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Interested participants in the sixth cohort program should apply online by Friday, Oct. 30.

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