$2.7 million in grants to help small-scale agriculture throughout Hawaiʻi
The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture has awarded 579 grants totaling $2.7 million for small-scale agriculture, including home gardening, herding and livestock operations in areas that face food insecurity. Of the nearly 600 grants, 133 are coming to the Big Island.
More than 7,400 applications were received this fall under the Micro-Grants for Food Security Program. The applications and project proposals were evaluated and ranked by the state Department of Agriculture Market Development Branch, with final approval received last week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“There was unprecedented interest in the micro-grants program this year,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture, in a press release. “Those who were awarded the grants submitted proposals that were well thought out and most likely to achieve the grant purpose of increasing the quality and quantity of locally-grown foods in areas where access to food is limited.”
Funding for the micro-grant program is provided by the USDA under the 2018 Farm Bill. Grant amounts ranged from $750 to $5,000.
Examples of proposals that were funded included projects for:
- Fencing to protect crops and seedlings from axis deer damage.
- Purchasing seeds and tree crops.
- Purchasing soil amendments, compost, tools and irrigation systems.
- Refrigeration/freezing capacity and canning supplies for food preservation.
- Purchasing garden towers and raised beds for vegetable production.
- Building shade houses and aquaponic, hydroponic and aeroponic systems.
- Constructing poultry coops.
Along with the more than 130 Big Island grants awarded, the Agriculture Department also awarded 347 micro-grants on Oʻahu, 67 in Maui County and 32 in Kauaʻi County. Additional information about all of the grant awards is available on the State Procurement Office website by searching under “micro-grants.”
Consideration was based on the description of the project, the number of beneficiaries and the level of food security in the location of the household as indicated on the Food Insecurity Index, calculated by Conduent Healthy Communities Institute using data from Claritas 2021. The index, which maps food insecurity by ZIP Code, can be found online.