Business

VIDEO UPDATE: GoFarm Hawai’i Receives More Funds for Farmer Training

December 18, 2017, 3:39 PM HST
* Updated December 20, 12:06 PM
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The University of Hawaiʻi’s successful farmer-training program GoFarm Hawai‘i, has received $600,000 from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

The additional funding will allow GoFarm Hawai‘i to continue training aspiring farmers to increase local agricultural production.

GoFarm Hawai‘i has five program sites across four islands, making it one of the largest beginning-farmer training programs in the nation. Sites are located on Hawai‘i Island, Maui, O‘ahu (in Waimāanalo and Waialua) and Kaua‘i.

Started in 2012, the program has trained more than 260 aspiring farmers throughout the state.

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“We are grateful for this funding and look forward to training and supporting those who want to farm in Hawai‘i,” said Janel Yamamoto, GoFarm Hawai‘i program director. “In addition to growing thousands of pounds of food for the local market, our graduates are creating great value-added products, developing cooperative ways to market and distribute food, educating our island keiki about the importance of the local food supply and being leaders and active participants in the agricultural community.”

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GoFarm Hawai‘i is a collaborative effort involving University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Windward Community College and UH’s Agribusiness Incubator Program.

GoFarm Hawai‘i’ is a comprehensive and practical training program built around the real-world needs of tomorrow’s farmers. It involves several stages of increasing commitment and learning, from an initial AgCurious seminar open to the public, followed by a series of AgXposure workshops, a four-month AgSchool course and a six-month AgPro option that provides deeper learning. At certain locations, graduates are eligible for three years of incubation support while they grow crops on land provided by the program.

All aspects of farmer training, from crop selection and farm equipment instruction to pesticide information and business plan guidance, are covered in a mix of hands-on and classroom learning. Specifics of programs may vary by location.

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“The GoFarm program does more than teach Hawai‘i’s citizens how to grow crops,” said CTAHR Dean Nicholas Comerford. “It strives to develop an informed constituency who are responsible stewards of the land as well as integral members of our local food system. This may be the greatest impact that GoFarm has.”

The BFRDP program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, aims to help address issues associated with the rising age and decrease in the number of U.S. farmers and ranchers. GoFarm Hawai‘i is also supported by grants from Kamehameha Schools, the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, the Hawai‘i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Ulupono Initiative, and the Hawai‘i Community Foundation. It also receives significant in-kind contributions from collaborators.

For more details and to enroll in the program, visit the GoFarm website.

GoFarm participants plant greens at the program’s Waialua site.
GoFarm participants plant greens at the program’s Waialua site.GoFarm participants learn to construct portable chicken coops.
GoFarm participants learn to construct portable chicken coops.

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