Hot Shot Hawaii v.2.0: Expanding Hawaii’s Agricultural Professionals Capacity to Advance Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Practices in Hawaii

Final report for MW17-007

Project Type: Enhanced State Grants
Funds awarded in 2017: $24,895.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2018
Grant Recipient: University of Hawaii
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Theodore Radovich
University of Hawaii, Manoa
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:

The WSARE Enhanced State Program Grant funding (Hot Shot v.2.0) was used to maximize the limited resources available for agricultural professional development and farmer training in rural areas of Hawaii, by covering additional areas were determined during the previous WSARE grant award (Hot Shot v1.0) in 2017.

The ‘hot shot’ teams, were deployed to different rural areas throughout Hawaii, in support of different educational and training programs, developed and delivered presentations and other outreach activities covered various topics, such as: good agricultural practices and food safety, high-quality food production, reduced risk edible commodities, environmental stewardship, agricultural competitiveness, food- and self-sufficiency and nutritional-security. The activities were very helpful to strengthen our partnerships with local teams from other Ag-professionals agencies and organizations from USDA NRCS staff across the state, Ag-related organization (HOFA, HFUU, and HFBF), and others. This funding allowed the Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program (SOAP) to reach more stakeholders in 2018.

Design and delivery of the training programs on priority sustainable agricultural topics were based on the needs of those who service and farm in these targeted agricultural communities. We identified SOAP topic leaders with expertise in the identified topic areas and supported travel expenses to speakers. Travel awards were provided for agents, from neighboring islands, who wished to attend ‘hot shot’ workshops outside of their respective areas. We partnered with host agents, local producers and established statewide partnerships with programs such as the GoFarm Hawaii and Kohala Center, to generate easy to read and understand educational workshop materials, and executed field demonstrations based on stakeholders’ identified needs and information delivery preferences. Field days, online newsletters, and classroom lectures were the top three educational delivery methods identified by SOAP/WSARE workshop participants.

Due to the WSARE support, provided through this grant award, SOAP contributed in reducing reliance on imported fertilizers and crop inputs, improving nutrient management and soil health; advocated for agricultural practices that are mindful of the natural resources, environment, and worker health; improved dissemination of the latest research based information directly to agricultural professionals and growers; increased awareness of SOAP’s team and activities throughout Hawaii State and improved the program capacity in reaching out to rural areas to service existing, new, and beginning producers in Hawaii, and advanced agricultural professionals’ skills.

Project Objectives:

We aim to use this supplemental WSARE funding to maximize the limited resources available for agricultural professional development training in rural areas of Hawaii. Development and radiation of ‘hot spot’ teams in identified rural areas such as Hawaii, Molokai, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu in combination with educational programs on responsible farming, high-quality, reduced risk edible commodities, environmental stewardship, agricultural competitiveness, and food self-sufficiency will strengthen partnerships with local teams of extension agents and NRCS staff and allow SOAP to reach more stakeholders in 2017 and beyond. Design and delivery of the in-depth training on priority sustainable agricultural topics will be based on the needs of those who service and farm in these agricultural communities.

We have identified SOAP topic leaders and will support speakers’ travel expenses. Support of inter-island travel for neighbor island agents who wish to attend ‘hot spot’ workshops outside of their areas will be provided as funding permits. We will partner with the host agent, local producers and established statewide program such as the Go Farm Program at UH CTAHR to generate easy to read/understand educational workshop materials, handouts, and execute field demonstrations based on stakeholders’ identified needs and information delivery preferences.

Through expanding this yearlong educational training across the state, SOAP anticipates reducing reliance on imported crop inputs and improving soil health; advocating for reduced risk agricultural practices that are mindful of our natural resources and worker health; improving dissemination of the latest research based information directly to agricultural professionals and producers; advancing agricultural professionals’ skills and competencies; and improving our capacity in taking the university out to rural areas to service existing, new, and beginning producers in Hawaii.

Introduction:

Hawaii’s tropical climate provides an ideal haven for insects and plant diseases. Despite Hawaii’s strict agriculture regulations, each year, new pests enter into Hawaii through various points of access causing significant economic losses that greatly affect the profitability and sustainability of many tropical fruit and vegetable farm productions statewide. In addition, due to limited land availability, repetitive farming, mono cropping system and the lack of replenishing organic matter has resulted in the depletion and buildup of essential/nonessential nutrients in many of Hawaii’s soils. For an island state, pesticide and fertilizer applications must be monitored on a regular basis to minimize runoff, leaching of nutrients, and ground water and ocean contamination.

Small acreage and family owned farms now account for majority of Hawaii’s agriculture industry on Oahu. Public interest in commercial food production is on the rise with new statewide farmer education initiatives and sustainable ‘grow more local food’ promotions. New beginning farmers, as well as recent Asian immigrants with limited English speaking and reading capabilities have entered Hawaii’s agriculture industry with little to no experience in sustainable and organic crop production. Due to their remote locations, lack of trust in government programs, and need to stay close to their farming area, these under represented developing agricultural areas need more educational support from SOAP and WSARE. The Hawaii WSARE Professional Development Program is a once a year educational event which is held at different locations around the Hawaiian island chain. A recent assessment of agricultural professionals who represent organizations such as CTAHR researchers, agents, and specialists, USDA NRCS, Soil and Water Conservationists, consultants, farmers and ranchers, and other state and federal agencies in Hawaii prioritized the top 3 issues for the 2015 Hawaii WSARE PDP to be: 1) pest management, 2) plant / soil nutrition, and 3) food safety. These priorities are in line with our assessment of the local needs and bottlenecks which need to be addressed in order to enhance and advance adoption of sustainable agricultural practices in Hawaii.

A change in Hawaii’s agriculture industry has prompted an ongoing need to increase awareness about the environmental and economic impacts of efficient and sustainable agricultural practices. Radiating ‘hot spot’ teams across Hawaii will allow us to expand our reach to a wider range of local farmers, businesses, and community to ensure their involvement in the sustainable and organic movement.

Awareness and adoption of sustainable agriculture practices is increasing within the State of Hawaii. The 2014 Organic Production Survey conducted by the USDA NASS provides additional evidence of grower adoption of sustainable agricultural production practices such as organic mulch/compost, green or animal manures, no-till or minimum till, maintained buffer strips, water management practices, biological pest management, maintaining beneficial insect or vertebrate habitat, selecting planting locations to avoid pests, releasing beneficial organisms, choosing pest resistant varieties, and planning plantings to avoid cross-contamination. Hawaii organic fruit and vegetable production is increasing in acreage and value annually. Hawaii’s organic crop values are higher than 14 other states in the continental USA (Honolulu Star Advertiser, October 26, 2015). The Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program (SOAP) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH CTAHR) remains committed to conducting annual professional development educational opportunities for agricultural professionals (AG PRO) in cooperation with WSARE. We anticipate expanding our annual AG PRO educational events by organizing a ‘hot spot’ team consisting of UH CTAHR members who are highly respected for their work in advancing sustainable agriculture. We anticipate taking the university out to rural ‘hot spot’ areas across Hawaii. Priority areas for 2015 include, climate change (flip flop crop seasons in Hawaii); improving soil health with cover crops and local fertilizer alternatives; irrigation management; reduced risk pest management alternatives utilizing insectary plants, DIY screen house units, etc.; and variety selection to manage resilient pest and diseases. Priority topics will be modified based on stakeholder involvement and site identification.

Education

Educational approach:

A curriculum was developed for topics and locations of the next Hot Shot team activities, based on the survey data collected among extension agents, local farmers organizations, and stakeholders.

Demonstrations through field days and workshops were determined to be the most effective methods of education for this section of the project. Below is a list of the outreach activities conducted as part of this project.

Events Organized, Offered, and/or Participating In:

  1. AgPro: Technology Use in Extension — Feb. 1-2, 2018.
  2. Hot Shot Kauai: Pest Management for Tropical Cropping Systems  — March 27, 2018.
  3. Parade of Farms — May 5, 2018.
  4. Hot Shot Maui: Integrated Pest Management Workshop — May 23, 2018.
  5. Screen House Field Day — May 20, 2018.
  6. Celery Variety Field Trial 2018 – June/July, 2018.
  7. Status of Hawaii and the Sustainable Organic Agriculture Program – August 1, 2018.
  8. Downy Mildew Management Practices for Basil Production – August, 2018.
  9. New Agriculture Pests on Oahu – August 1, 2018.
  10. North Shore Economic Vitality Partnership – August 1, 2018.
  11. Specialty Crops – Beans: Satisfying, Satiating and Sustainable – August, 2018.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Determine topics and locations
Objective:

Assembling ‘hot shot’ teams for the identified ‘hot spot’ rural areas

Description:

We aim to use this supplemental WSARE funding to maximize the limited resources available for agricultural professional development training in rural areas of Hawaii. Development and radiation of ‘hot spot’ teams in identified rural areas such as Hawaii, Molokai, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu in combination with educational programs on responsible farming, high-quality, reduced risk edible commodities, environmental stewardship, agricultural competitiveness, and food self-sufficiency will strengthen partnerships with local teams of extension agents and NRCS staff and allow SOAP to reach more stakeholders in 2017 and beyond. Design and delivery of the in-depth training on priority sustainable agricultural topics will be based on the needs of those who service and farm in these agricultural communities.

Outcomes and impacts:

The survey data was very helpful to determine topics and locations for the next extension activities. Also, the survey helped to increase interaction between extension agents on different islands through communications on the highest priorities of topics and locations for this circle of the project.

Educational curriculum on priority sustainable topics
Objective:

To develop a statewide educational curriculum on priority sustainable topics on different islands.

Description:

We have identified SOAP topic leaders and will support speakers’ travel expenses. Support of inter-island travel for neighbor island agents who wish to attend ‘hot spot’ workshops outside of their areas will be provided as funding permits. We will partner with the host agent, local producers and established statewide program such as the Go Farm Program at UH CTAHR to generate easy to read/understand educational workshop materials, handouts, and execute field demonstrations based on stakeholders’ identified needs and information delivery preferences.

Outcomes and impacts:

A statewide curriculum was developed, using the survey, and topics and locations, based on the stakeholders needs from each location, were determined, in order to answer for the specific needs of each location (including climate, crops, soil type, and market needs).

Outreach activities
Objective:

To deploy the Hot Shot teams to different areas throughout Hawaii

Description:

Funding for the project, Deploying SOAP’s Team to Identified Hot Shot Locations, from the previous (Hot Shot V.1.0) and current (Hot Shot V.2.0) awards. During the project duration, Hawaii WSARE coordinators deployed ‘hot shot’ team members to eleven (11) statewide educational events.

Outcomes and impacts:

The events were planned, organized and implemented in collaboration with statewide extension agents and other internal and external program partners. We reached ~ 500 growers, agricultural professionals, and community stakeholders through a statewide, multi-disciplinary effort on a wide array of topics such as plant propagation, composting, emergency bioassays, pesticide education, specialty crop production, and sustainable/integrated pest management practices. Severe and unexpected weather (drought, flood, landslides, and lava flow) affected various islands across the state during late 2017 and early 2018. However, the use of social-media venues (Facebook, Twitter, and Radio) have allowed us to reach out to wider range of potential new growers, especially younger generations, and the public. In addition to, announcing events, posting pictures from various outreach activities, and connecting in a faster manner with clienteles statewide.

Educational & Outreach Activities

11 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
3 On-farm demonstrations
5 Online trainings
2 Study circle/focus groups
2 Tours
10 Webinars / talks / presentations
5 Workshop field days
1 Departmental presentation

Participation Summary

30 Extension
5 NRCS
10 Researchers
5 Nonprofit
2 Agency
500 Farmers/ranchers
15 Others

Learning Outcomes

500 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
30 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
2 New working collaborations
50 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

Online Outreach Venues:

Part of the WSARE award was used to employ an IT personnel to improve and update the SOAP website, to include additional sections for past and upcoming outreach and extension activities. In addition to SOAP pages on Twitter and Facebook, which been very helpful to improve and widen our reach into additional growers and stakeholders, especially young/youth sector. In the below links, SOAP program past and upcoming activities been posted and updated periodically. The posts include information about each event and documentation pictures for each event.

Past Events: https://cms.ctahr.hawaii.edu/soap/Events/PastEvents

Upcoming Events: https://cms.ctahr.hawaii.edu/soap/Events/UpcomingEvents 

Evaluation of SOAP outreach events based on the usefulness of information presented.

Out of 27 participants at one of the outreach events hosted, by SOAP program and supported by this WSARE grant award. In a question asked about rating the event usefulness of information, about 75% of participants ranked them as “excellent” information and 25% ranked them as “good” information (Figure 1). The evaluations also have been a helpful tool to improve our knowledge of important topics for growers in different locations throughout Hawaii. Based on the data gathered, we plan and design future events. Additional answers to other questions indicated that participants learned new and useful information that they are planning to use in their operations. Activities designed for professional development among extension agents and Ag-professional lead to increase understanding and knowledge among different participants of new areas they might be able to collaborate or contribute into through working with other agents or Ag-professionals. Around 50% of the participants noted that the information about other participants were new to them and were very helpful for their own professional development goals.

Unintended Outcomes:

Results from current and previous WSARE awards were used to develop public talks that were given at various outreach events. Below are selected talks by some of SOAP members.

Additional outreach activities were attending various public events and engaging with the public. Figure (2) shows an example of SOAP booth at Farm Fair on Oahu.

 

Selected Public Presentations:

  •    Theodore J.K. Radovich. 2018. Annual “Organic 101” presentations at the Master Gardener programs on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island (Hilo and Kona).
  •    Ahmad, A.A., Berek, A.K., Radovich, T.J.K., and Nguyen, H.V. 2018. Biochar As a Soil Amendment and Nutrient Regulator. ASHS Annual Conference, Jul. 30-Aug. 3, Washington, DC.
  • Amjad A. Ahmad and Theodore J.K. Radovich. 2018. Recommendations for Local Fertilizers Applications and Crop Diversity in Hawaii. CTAHR Ground Support: Research-based Support for Oahu’s Fast-paced Edible Crop Industry. Aug. 1, Leeward Community College, Oahu, HI.
  • Amjad A. Ahmad and Theodore J.K. Radovich. 2018. Locally Produced & Available Fertilizers in Hawaii. Cover Cropping & Local Fertilizers Workshop. June 30, Kohala Center, Honokaa, HI.
  • Amjad, A.A., Radovich, T.J.K., Nguyen, H.V. 2018. Organic Inputs for Your Orchids. Guest Speaker at the Monthly meeting of Honolulu Orchids Society. Aug. 8. Honolulu, HI.
  • Ahmad, A.A., Radovich, T.J.K., Nguyen, H.V., Sugano, J., Uyeda, J., Silvasy, T., Gangaiah, C, and Berek, A. 2018. Innovative Waste Management Strategies: Utilizing Locally Produced By-Products as Organic Amendments for Crop Production in Hawaii. Our Farms, Our Future Conference. SARE/ATTRA. April 3-5, St. Louis, MO. USA.
  • Cox, J., Hue, N., Ahmad, A.A., and Kobayashi, K. 2018. Surface applied or incorporated? Does compost and biochar placement affect plant growth and soil fertility? CTAHR 30th Annual Symposium, April 6-7, University of Hawaii-Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
  • Zhang, K., Radovich, T.J.K. and Ahmad, A.A. 2018. Kappaphycus alavrezii as a Potassium Fertilizer Alternative for Pak-Choi (Brassica rapa, Chinenesis group) in Aquaponic Applications. CTAHR 30th Annual Symposium, April 6-7, University of Hawaii-Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • Theodore J.K. Radovich, Amjad A. Ahmad, Jari Sugano, and Jensen Uyeda. 2018. From trash to treasure: developing organic compliant fertilizers from local by-products for crop production in Hawaii. Organic Faring Research Conference, Jan 26. Rutgers University, NJ. USA.
  • Amjad A Ahmad, Theodore J.K. Radovich, Hue V. Nguyen, Jensen Uyeda, and Jari Sugano. 2018. Utilizing locally produced rendered meat to produce high nitrogen content liquid fertilizer. Organic Faring Research Conference, Jan 26. Rutgers University, NJ. USA.
Recommendations:

The award been very helpful and crucial for reaching the outcomes above, and its expected to support the sustainable farming movement in Hawaii within and beyond the award duration.

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

At each event, SARE products (brochures and publications) been displayed and distributed among the participants.

Western SARE logo will be displayed at each event and recognized as funding and supporting source.

250 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
50 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.