Master Farmer Workshop Series

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2011: $49,812.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Dave Elliott
Oahu RC&D

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: avocados, bananas, figs
  • Vegetables: cucurbits, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals
  • Animals: bees, fish


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer
  • Energy: solar energy, wind power
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, farm-to-institution, value added, agritourism
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: compost extracts, integrated pest management, prevention
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, urban agriculture, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Agriculture on O'ahu is currently experiencing a renaissance. For decades, agriculture has been dominated by two large industries (pineapple and sugar cane) in which most agricultural jobs have meant hard field labor under difficult conditions. For several generations, families have strived to educate their children to avoid agricultural careers. That is now changing.

    With an increased awareness of the dangers of chemicals in our food products, our over-dependence on processed and imported foods and the tangible threats to our agricultural landscape due to development pressures, many of our educated young people are interested in becoming part of the change they want to see. With the recent and dramatic withdrawal of the major agricultural industries, agricultural lands that have been out of reach for decades are now opening up, and along with them, new opportunities for diversified farming.

    The O'ahu Resource Conservation and Development Council (O'ahu RC&D) is sponsoring a series of field-based workshops (field days) with Master Farmers. Each workshop will include a farm tour and presentation by the Master Farmer, two additional specialist speakers and presentations from our staff and colleagues concerning conservation planning, grant funding, Farm Bill funding and other programs. Fact Sheets in each area of specialized farming will be distributed, along with materials from the specialist speakers and our own organization.

    Workshops will target farmers interested in learning more in order to improve their own operations, along with other professionals from government, academia, agricultural consultants, Soil and Water Conservation districts (SWCDs) and concerned nonprofit organizations. We view these workshops as an opportunity to collaborate and share expertise, opportunities and knowledge among various agricultural professionals and producers.

    Following each workshop, we will communicate with attendees via email and solicit follow up questions for the Master Farmer. For approximately three months after each workshop, we will assemble the questions for the Master Farmer to answer. All Fact Sheets and Q & A dialogues will be posted to our website.

    As a result of this workshop series, we expect that a minimum of 40 farmers will improve resource management and stewardship and increase farm profitability by attending at least one of these on-farm workshops and learning about innovative, practical, proven techniques being used by successful farmers.

    The Master Farmers participating in this series each bring a different expertise in sustainable agriculture. Several are entirely unique in what they do. Briefly, they include: Fred Lau, who manages a successful 17-acre aquaponics farm and nursery; Paul Reppun, who grows taro and other traditional crops in a unique style he calls "Endemic Hawaiian Farming;" Dean Okimoto, who has developed high-value speciality products for niche markets; Ed Otsuji, who supports CSAs and local markets with a diversity of crops on only four acres in urban East Honolulu; and Kylie Matsuda, who is incorporating agricultural tourism into her third-generation family farm.

    Featured guest speakers include Steven Chiang, Jim Hollyer, Ted Radovich and Clyde Tamura from the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR); Lynne Constantinedes from Crop Care Hawaii; and staff from the USDA, SWCDs and O'ahu RC&D.

    Together, the farmers, speakers, specialists and professionals brought together for this workshop series will explore and promote new and proven strategies for sustainable agriculture on O'ahu.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Provide a forum to promote dialog and foster a knowledge transfer between farmers and agricultural specialists in the community.

    2. Increase agricultural professionals' knowledge and understanding of diversified, sustainable agricultural businesses on O'ahu.

    3. Introduce farmers, especially beginning farmers, to innovative and successful methods of sustainable agriculture.

    4. Provide opportunities for producers to visit farms and farmers they may have heard of and gain a first-hand understanding of how these successful businesses operate.

    5. Share information and successful sustainable agriculture techniques among those likely to use them via Fact Sheets, demonstrations, presentations and site visits.

    6. Build our e-bulletin subscriber list to further on-going communication with farmers, ranchers and agricultural professionals.

    7. Establish a web-based forum for discussion about agricultural techniques, business strategies, pest control issues and more.

    8. Verify that at least 40 farmers have benefited and incorporated new information into their operations through participation in this program.

    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.