Agriculture

Learning the Business of Farming

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

A group of Molokai farmers were looking to cultivate something beyond bananas and broccoli on Nov. 20: their business and marketing abilities. About a dozen local farmers and ranchers gathered at Hikiola to attend the Agriculture Business Development Training workshop to refine their skills at winning customers and securing funding.

With the county moratorium on genetically engineered crops currently on hold, many farmers are uncertain about the possible effects on their businesses. Although the workshop’s guest speaker, Nicole Milne, didn’t have concrete answers, she said laying out and following smart plans will keep farmers on the right path.

“I feel like people’s goals for their businesses and their farming ideals are fairly secure,” said Milne, associate vice president for programs for The Kohala Center, a Hawaii Island-based research and education organization.…

Judge Orders Hold on GE Enforcement

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

A federal judge in Honolulu has ordered a temporary hold on enforcement of the moratorium on genetically engineered crops passed by Maui County voters on Nov. 4. Last week, Monsanto and other parties filed a lawsuit against the County of Maui, challenging the moratorium. Judge Barry Kurren granted Monsanto and other plaintiffs in the suit a temporary injunction until Dec. 5.

The county stated last week it was preparing to enforce the moratorium pending the Election Officer’s certification of election results, but the judge’s injunction will put a hold on enforcement until further court action.

Injunction is a court order for a party to do, or refrain from doing, specific acts.…

Featured Farmer

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Featured Farmer

HTFG Molokai News Release

Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) is a statewide nonprofit organization, dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion. The Molokai Chapter is made up of members that are home gardeners, small scale farmers and interested community members who meet monthly to share ideas about promoting products, skills and agricultural opportunities.

This month’s featured farmer is Michigan-born Jamie Ronzello who runs her family-owned Barking Deer Farm off Maunaloa Highway. Years ago, her college degree focused on cultural anthropology, and she is right at home farming on Molokai with its rich history. Jamie is a super busy, young farmer who delivers her “Beyond Organic” fresh vegetables to Molokai stores and Paddlers Inn and enjoys being a beekeeper.…

County Poised to Enforce GE Moratorium, Lawsuit Expected

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

County Poised to Enforce GE Moratorium, Lawsuit Expected

Molokai agricultural land. Photo by Edwin Mendija

A highly disputed voter initiative to ban the growing of genetically engineered crops passed in Maui County in last Tuesday’s General Election by a narrow margin of 50 percent to 48 percent, with just over 800 votes’ difference.

On Molokai, all of the island’s four precincts voted no by a ratio of nearly two to one, with 63 percent voting against the moratorium and 34 percent favoring it island-wide, according to stats from Hawaii’s elections website.

The initiative calls for a moratorium until a detailed environmental impact study of the harms associated with growing genetically engineered organisms has been completed and reviewed by the County Council.…

GMO Moratorium Survey Results

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

GMO Moratorium Survey Results

The MOM Hui News Release

Out of a total of 219 Molokai residents who participated in an online survey, 109, or 49.77 percent, are in support of a moratorium (temporary suspension) of all GE operations and practices within Maui County. The moratorium would last until an environmental and public health impact study is conducted and finds the proposed cultivation practices to be safe and harmless.  Of the total survey participants, 110, or 50.23 percent, were not in favor of this bill.

Chart courtesy of Mom Hui

One of those in favor shared that, “because of their history of contamination, collusion, coercion and endless greed for capital and control, companies like Monsanto cannot be trusted, and therefore independent studies need to be conducted to insure these practices taking place on our island are safe for its inhabitants and future inhabitants.”

Another individual argued that, “the State Constitution protects the public trust.…

Farm Tax Workshop

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Kuha`o Business Center News Release

There will be a Farm Tax Workshop held Nov. 6, 2014 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) Business Development Classroom.  Michael Holl will be the returning to Molokai to speak to farmers and ranchers about business taxes. This workshop will help you manage your labor, financial and legal risks. Holl, who is from Oahu, is an enrolled agent who is a federally-authorized tax practitioner, licensed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to negotiate with the IRS on behalf of taxpayers.

The Molokai Farm Tax Workshop is designed to enable farmers to lower their tax liabilities by a better understanding of business deductions, tax preparation and record keeping to minimize taxes and chances of an audit, business entities for your farm, how employment laws and independent contractor requirements affect your business, and special provisions in the tax code regarding farm income averaging to significantly lower taxes resulting from “bumper” crops.…

GE Crop Debate Shakes Molokai

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

GE Crop Debate Shakes Molokai

Photo by Edwin Mendija.

A single initiative on the November election ballot has the Molokai community in such a heated debate that “vote yes” and “vote no” only refer to one thing: whether or not the cultivation of all genetically engineered crops in Maui County should stop while studies are done examining effects on human health and the environment.

The “vote no” campaign opposes the initiative, highlighting the hundreds of jobs on the line that could be lost in Maui County if a moratorium on growing genetically engineered (GE) crops goes through. Supporters of the initiative say they don’t want farming practices they believe are detrimental to land and people to continue without a comprehensive, independent study completed.…

New Molokai Beginning Farmers Program

Friday, October 17th, 2014

UH CTAHR Extension Service News Release

A new, island-wide Beginning Farmer Program will begin this month. Twice-monthly classes will be held in Ho`olehua at the UH Extension Office and at UH Maui College-Molokai Farm focused on commercial crop production. A beginning farmer is defined as one who has farmed less than 10 years.

The aging of farmers is a matter of national security. In 2010, the average age of the workforce nationwide was 37, while the average age of farmers was about 58. There’s has been a 30 percent increase in farmers over the age of 75 and a 20 percent decrease in the number of farmers under the age of 25.…

Dirt Road Gardens

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Community Contributed

By Joe Kennedy

I’d like to tell you a little story that may be of interest. About nine months ago, I tried to take a shortcut and make a vegetable garden. I used a dirt road at the edge of my farm because there was just bare dirt there, no grass or trees. I stretched a couple of irrigation tapes the length of the area I wanted (70 or 80 feet and 10 feet wide), turned it on, and let the water drip for a day and a night. Then made two ditches only three inches deep and three inches wide with a pick right at the edge of the drip tape the whole length.…

Volunteers Take to Molokai Farms

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Volunteers Take to Molokai Farms

Mike Senese had recently graduated from high school in Massachusetts when he caught the farming bug. With a background mostly in gardening, Senese said he resolved to take a gap year before starting college and began research into different farming programs.

The 19-year-old’s search landed him a job as an educational farm volunteer on Molokai’s Pu`u O Hoku Ranch through the state’s World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or popularly known as WWOOF, network.

“I’ve learned so much from being here already, I’m really amazed at how much hard work and labor goes into it all,” Senese said. He’s been working on Molokai for a month and plans to transfer to Maui or Hawaii Island in November.…