Beginning Farmers – Round Two
By Glenn I. Teves, County Extension Agent
We will be accepting applications for round two of the Molokai Native Hawaiian Beginning Farmers Program. This program is open to homesteaders in Ho`olehua with agricultural lots. You must have at least a half-acre of agricultural land committed to the project, and also have access to agricultural water from the Molokai Irrigation System (MIS). Priority will be given to those with limited farming background.
Participants will be expected to attend weekly classes or field workshops, select their crops and develop a farm production map that will guide them through planting, harvesting, and marketing. We encourage those who are totally committed to farming as a vocation to apply.
With over 7,600 acres of agricultural land and water available from the MIS, the Ho`olehua Hawaiian Homes area is a natural for this kind of program. With farmers aging nationally, the average age of farmers is 58-years-old while the average age of the workforce is 38 years of age. This age gap is of great concern for our leaders. We believe that being able to produce agricultural products we consume is a fundamental function of a sustainable nation and community. We have made a commitment to help develop the next generation of farmers to complement those already farming in order to maintain a critical mass of small farmers needed on Molokai.
Applications are available from the UH Cooperative Extension Service Office, next to the Ho`olehua Post Office, and it will explain the program in detail. Deadline for turning in your applications is April 20 at 4 p.m. at our office. Selections will be made by May 1 by an outside committee composed of community agencies working with homesteaders.
The Molokai Native Hawaiian Beginning Farmer Program is an education and training initiative of the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Molokai Cooperative Extension Service. This project is funded through a grant from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please contact our office at 567-6932.