GoFarm Hawaii program helps people start careers in agriculture


Since its inception in 2012, GoFarm Hawaii has provided a nontraditional pathTechnique to a profession in agriculture.

GoFarm Hawaii is a statewide program working To reinformationrce Hawaii’s meals safety and financial system by developing the Quantity of primarytainable ag producers.

The start farmer teaching program permits people of all ages to study Regarding The numerous facets of farming To Wind up to be a enterprise farmer.

GoFarm Hawaii started in 2003 as a program out tright here to working farmers by way of the College of Hawaii at Manoa School of Tropical Agriculture and Human Assets, or CTAHR.

This method initially was meant to assist farmers by offering enterprise and technical assist. In 2012, management acknowledged A necessity to increase the program to embody starting farmer teaching To level out people The biggest Technique to farm.

“We started getting inquiries from people Considering about transitioning to farming and starting Their very personal enterprise companies,” said Janel Yamamoto, director of GoFarm Hawaii. “On the university, tright here was extra converse Regarding the evaluation and science behind agriculture. Many people nonetheless wanted a farming-first education.”

GoFarm Hawaii launched its first cohort on Oahu in 2012 and has since grpersonal to have 5 starting farmer web websites, with agriculture technician teaching on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island.

The intent of the GoFarm Hawaii program is To assist people develop The expertise To start out a farm operation or work Contained in the agricultural enterprise at A greater diploma.

“To Make assembleive that us To enhance native meals current and greater place us for meals safety, We Actually want extra meals producers,” Yamamoto said. “We’re hoping to influence our meals system by teverying all people agricultural enterprise and manufacturing expertise.”

GoFarm Hawaii has A huge revery, with halficipants coming immediately from college As properly as to adults Making an try To start out new companies or Eager to work after retirement.

“We now have An limitless demographic Of mom and father that apply to this program, with The typical age being round 40 yrs previous,” Yamamoto said. “It is a life-consuming course of, So that you’d like to be devoted And enassembleive Your liked ones members are all in for the journey.”

Inside the final three yrs, 46% of GoFarm college students have started a enterprise pertaining to agriculture, 19% have taken jobs in agriculture, and 19% have plans To start out a farm Finally.

The Hawaii Island program started in 2017 and was first located on a plot of land in Honokaa. In 2020, the program transferd to acreage simply north of Hilo To current college students extra alternatives to get their palms soiled And enhance Their very personal crops.

“We now have extreme hopes for Hawaii Island since extra people have entry to extra land right here,” Yamamoto said. “We think about That Tright here is a future for people To assemble primarytainability and to have extra enterprise farms, as a Outcome of the land is so entryible.”

Program logistics

The intensive program Is Chop up into 4 parts. Individuals should progress sequentially and full every half earlier than making use of for The subsequent.

The primary half Recognized as “AgCurious,” which is free and open to anyone Considering about studying Regarding the program. After The two- To three-hour class, halficipants will acquire instructions on The biggest Technique To use to “AgXpoassembleive.”

“AgXpoassembleive” requires an software and a $50 payment. The half, which is 4 To 5 weekfinish days, will permit college students To finish The thought and sensible coursework associated to The fundamentals of crop farming.

Individuals On this half Even have The prospect To go to enterprise farms and study what life Might be like if an agricultural profession is pursued.

After “AgXpoassembleive,” halficipants are invited To use for the “AgXcel” half of the program.

“AgXcel” is a extra aggressive half and prices $500. The half consists of six months of packages, That are held on one weeknight and one weekfinish day every week.

The third half currents halficipants An alternative to apply on-farm methods associated to small-scale enterprise manufacturing and apply classes found In school To decide, plant and primarytain a 5,000-sq.-foot plot.

Individuals should develop produce for a group-based mostly assisted agriculture program, or CSA, and meet a gross sales objective to effectively full this half.

People who full the half Shall be invited To use to the “AgIncubator” half.

This half permits halficipants To start out Their very personal indepfinishent enterprise rising crops on one-quarter acre of land currentd by the program for As a lot as three yrs.

Individuals should meet particular requirements and Adjust to website guidelines to proceed in the half, however Might have entry to shared gear, infrastructure and proceedd teaching.

Each half introduces college students to A particular facet Of financial farming, Similar to enterprise planning, advertising and product enhancement, wright hereas permitting them to livelyly farm.

Partnership with Ho‘ola Farms

Collectively with a transfer to The mannequin new location in 2020, GoFarm Hawaii decided to halfner with Ho‘ola Farms, which currents agricultural teaching, palms-on education alternatives and remedy decisions for veterans and their househpreviouss.

“We now have On A daily basis had veteran halficipants, however we had a state of affairs on Oahu involving a veteran in our program A pair yrs again and figured that We would have appreciated A method to serve them greater,” Yamamoto said. “We realized that working with Ho‘ola Farms Can be useful since They current workshops for veterans particularally.”

In mild of the halfnership, GoFarm Hawaii decided to open its 4th Hawaii Island cohort to solely army veterans final yr.

The halfnership, which Is unique to Hawaii County, labored properly, with 4 veterans graduating from the program final yr. The cohorts At the second are open to anyone, however veterans are nonetheless inspired To use.

Learning to develop

Maricar Souza was Definitely one of many 4 veterans to graduate from the 7-month-prolonged program and is now in the “AgIncubator” half.

Souza is presently rising meals on Ho‘ola Farms’ demonstration farm And that is in a place To make the most of resources from GoFarm Hawaii as A method To start out a enterprise involving her selfmade meals merchandise, which Includes A properly-appreciated pesto.

“I’ve found Tons about how current and so tasty greens Might be Everytime you rising them organically from our aina,” Souza said. “As quickly as I grew basil for the first time, the aroma was unimaginable, And that i made In all probability the most superb pesto I’ve ever made out of it.”

Souza has On A daily basis loved put together dinnering and served as a put together dinner by way of most of her 26 yrs in the U.S. Military And army Reserves.

Souza spent six yrs in lively obligation for The army, with two yrprolonged fight excursions in Iraq in 2003 and Kuwait in 2006. She then joined the U.S. Military Reserves for 20 yrs and retired in 2016.

“I really paymentl this program Is primarily good for anyone, however particularly veterans. I’ve really benefited from it in so Some strategies,” Souza said. “Bodily, farming has assisted me Shed kilos and permited me to work with my palms extra. I’m additionally getting Tons satisfaction when I finally develop one factor so tasty from a seed.”

Souza has spent her time on the farm studying what supplies assist produce In all probability the most progress from produce and has loved seeing the fruit of her labor.

While she joined the program To enhance her recipes and To discover strategies to develop current components, Souza May even be excited to share her newfound education Collectively with her househprevious, frifinishs and fullly different veterans.

“Now that I’ve been graduated, I’m On A daily basis sharing ideas with my mom and fullly different househprevious As quickly as they develop meals Of their yards,” Souza said. “I additionally inform the veterans how the program has inspired me and assisted me Uncover a life outdoors Of labor.”

Souza hopes To assemble her enterprise and make a dwelling off of rising produce and promoting meals merchandise.

“I really like doing this, and if I can retire in three To 5 yrs and make this my full-time job, Which Might Even be good,” Souza said. “Now, I’m going To Consider getting my palms soiled with Ho‘ola Farms and Continue to develop as a lot as I can.”

Although Souza has On A daily basis had The will To discover strategies to farm, she was impressed to take the leap when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the island.

“When COVID hit, I simply thought — what if the barge doesn’t come? What are we going to do?” Souza said. “It made me Need To start out this course of, as a Outcome of I by no means Need to have to ask That in an emergency. For our island, it’s important for all of us to know The biggest Technique to develop factors and use the aina To current again to ourselves.”


Souza was apprehensive that the island Might not primarytain itself with out assist from the primaryland, which is An factor of The rationale Ho‘ola Farms founder and director Emily Emmons decided to halfner with GoFarm Hawaii.

“All by way of this pandemic, Tright here was A lot of Talk about primarytainability And the method being on an island makes us extra weak to challenges like meals insafety,” Emmons said. “People Need to us, to our island, to Supply you primarytainability efforts, and that’s precisely what this program is doing proper in entrance of us.”

After attfinishing the Sustainability Summit hosted by the county this yr, Emmons realized What number of factors Might be answered by teverying people the significance of understanding wright here meals comes from.

“The primarytainability convention really confirmed me that everyfactor comes again to the aina,” Emmons said “It’s so important to know wright here our meals comes from. And to know that veterans are rising your meals in your again yard Is method extra particular.”

Scholarships for the GoFarm Hawaii program Can be found to veterans at every starting farm location by way of Ho‘ola Farms.

Hawaii Island’s fifth cohort is presently in session And may run by way of Sept. 7.

More information on GoFarm Hawaii and Ho‘ola Farms Might be found at https://gofarmhawaii.org/ and https://www.hoolafarms.org/.

E-mail Kelsey Walling at [email protected]