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Hoʻōla Farms Awarded Grant to Support Veterans Program

October 29, 2021, 6:25 AM HST
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A nonprofit farm in Hilo is set to receive federal funding for the next three years to support its program that teaches veterans farming.

Hoʻōla Veteran Services — the nonprofit home of Hoʻōla Farms — was awarded a 3-year, $750,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to support their “Bridging the Gap: Growing Veterans” pilot program.

Courtesy of Hoʻōla Veteran Services.

The Hoʻōla program is designed to support military veteran beginning farmers, ranchers, and their families on Hawaiʻi Island by providing exposure, skill-based training, and a professional network aimed to help them succeed in agricultural careers, according to a press release from the nonprofit.

“Over the last few years we’ve recognized that one of the barriers to entry for veterans and their families into the agriculture sector is lack of access to exposure-based, hands-on experiences,” said Emily Emmons, Executive Director of Hoʻōla Farms. “This new funding will help us increase the number of veterans seeking and securing educational, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities in the food and agriculture sector on Hawaiʻi Island. We’re excited and grateful to have this opportunity to expand and strengthen the network of veterans working in agriculture here.”

According to the release, the farm holds workshops for veterans, their families and civilians to learn more about farming. Programs range from one day, “Intro to Grow,” to a more comprehensive four-week workshop, “Groundwork to Grow.”

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The four-week course focuses on specific agriculture topics relevant to the Pacific Region, the release states. Experts and guest speakers from agencies such as the College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR), UH-Hilo, USDA, and the US Forest Service will provide additional resources to support participants’ goals.

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Hoʻōla Farms will soon be offering scholarships to participate in the pilot program. Those who are interested or who would like additional information can visit www.hoolafarms.org or call 808-494-2613.

Hoʻōla Farms was one of 140 organizations nationwide awarded funding from USDAʻs National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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