Sustaining Molokai Native Hawaiian Family Farms

2010 Annual Report for SW09-502

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $47,420.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Alton Arakaki
UH-College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Cooperative Extension Service
Glenn Teves
UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension Service

Sustaining Molokai Native Hawaiian Family Farms


The five native Hawaiian farmer-participants are monocrop farmers, producing sweet potato, watermelons and papayas. The project provides opportunities for these farmers to gain experience in producing other crops to diversify their business and farm’s biological environment and to hedge against production risks that come with the steep learning curve of growing a new crop. The participants have bought into Western SARE goals that promote diversifying crop production, farm income stream, biological environment and providing island consumers with a diversity of food crops, all contributing to developing a sustainable food system for communities and at the same time supporting and promoting good environmental stewardship. In year 2 of the project, participants continue to implement their production plans of growing alternative crops to diversify their farm crops and farming environment.

Objectives/Performance Targets

1. Plan and design five on-farm tropical sustainable demonstration family farms in month 1 of project.

2. Order supplies for the establishment of five tropical sustainable demonstration family farms in month 2 of project.

3. Begin installing five sustainable tropical demonstration farms.

4. Maintain the production of diversified crops and monitor plant biological environment beginning month 4 through the duration of the project to month 30.

5. Collect soil and plant tissue samples, analyze samples, and conduct educational activities with producers beginning in month 4 through the duration of the project to month 30.

6. Conduct annual field days in months 10, 20 and 30.

7. Collect production and cost of production data beginning in month 4 through the duration of the project to month 30.

8. Prepare and publish project information as a College Extension Bulletin, post on website and share with clientele in month 34 through month 36 of the project.

9. Conduct project evaluation in month 34 through month 36 of the project.


1. Individual meetings and consultations were held with each participant to discuss alternative crops that could be added into their mono-crop production system. Production needs, compatibility with existing crop and system, sustainable alternative practices to address potential problems, market competition and marketability were covered in the meetings. Objective 1 has been accomplished for four of five project sites.

2. Supplies for the establishment of tropical sustainable demonstration family farms were ordered for four of the five participating farms. Objective 2 has been accomplished for four of five project sites.

3. Field site inspections and demonstration farm locations were conducted and identified by participants and co-coordinator. Demonstration farms are continuing to be installed. Taro and awa crops are vegetative propagated, thus the area of planting will depend on how much stock plants are available to cut propagation materials.

4. Participants are diversifying their crops on their farms by establishing and managing their second crop and continue to expand their planting in a timely manner. Participants are continuing to maintain the production of their diversified crops and monitoring plant biological environment. I have detected plant virus in the awa planting and will be working with the grower to manage the impact of the disease on his farm.

5. Soil samples were reviewed to monitor soil fertility, and as plants mature tissue samples will be taken to monitor plant nutritional conditions. Continuous educational activities and individual participant consultations were conducted to implement plans on each of the five demonstration sites. Educational activities on crop production management and cultural practices were conducted. Participants participated in USDA-NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and Farm Service Agency programs.

6. Field day has been conducted to share information with participants and other farmers.

7. Participants of the project are maintaining records of the cost of production of their new crop.

8. Data and records are being maintained for publishing educational materials that will be shared with other farmers.

9. This project activity for #9 has not been conduct. No project evaluation has been conducted.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

1. As a result of accomplishing objective 1, four of five on-farm tropical sustainable demonstration farms are continuing to implement their project to diversifying their farm. Three participants are adding taro crop into their certified organic papaya, sweet potato and watermelon operations. One participant is incorporating awa into his certified organic papaya production. It is projected that the fifth participant will begin his eggplant project in 2011. Crop diversity promotes biological diversification of the farm environment, provides the farm with alternative revenue streams and provides the community with diversity of food choices.

2. As a result of acquiring supplies, including fishbone meal from a Hawaii-based rendering plant and coral lime from local quarry, project participants are diversifying their crops on their farms and have became aware of local sources for farm inputs. I also assisted the supplier of the fishbone meal manufacturer to get their product organically certified from Washington State Department of Agriculture Organic Program. Identifying and using locally available sources of farm inputs reduces the need for isolated communities in Hawaii to depend on imports from the mainland to produce our food, it reduces our dependency of foreign oil, reduces waste entering our land fill, recycles food waste back into our food production system and improves our island’s food security situation.

3. As a result of accomplishments, sustainable tropical demonstration farms have been installed on four of five participants’ farms. Participants are beginning to install their second crop into fields that were planted with their primary crop, thereby beginning to experience and learn production skills required to manage an integrated and diversified farm environment. Managing a diverse farming environment is a learned skill. The project provides participants an opportunity to learn these skills by hands-on experience. Experiential learning will be augmented with individual consultation and workshops conducted by project leader. Increasing the number of farmers with skills to manage and operate a diversified and integrated farm will enhance the ability for communities to develop a sustainable food production system.

4. Participants are increasing the area of their second crop, integrating them into their primary crops and increasing the level of production so that biological signature of the diverse and integrated system will begin to express itself. L&R Farm, Castle Adolpho, Freeman’s Farm and Kaiama Farm are expanding the production area of their second crop as vegetative planting materials come available. Production levels of the companion crops need to be increased; if not, the primary crop will continue to dominate the the field conditions that influence the environmental signature of the farm.

Insect population and disease infestation have been monitored on participants’ farms. There were incidents of seasonal Rose Beetles and predictable Aphid infestation on the taro plants, but no nematode has been detected on the disease-free micro-propagated taro plants used for the project.

Plant virus has been detected on the awa plants at Kaiama Farm. Infected awa plants have been rogue from the field. Plants will be tested to identify virus-free plants for cutting propagation materials.

5. As a result of collecting soil samples and conducting on-going educational activities on sustainable farming practices, participants are successfully growing and expanding their second crop on their farm. They continue to apply locally-sourced organically certified plant nutrients. Participants have marketed taro corms and eggplant and sold value-added product made from taro. Table 1 show products marketed. Participants are participating in USDA-NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and Farm Service Agency programs. Participants are increasing their knowledge and skills as they gain hand-on experience of caring for integrated system of diversified crops.

6. As a result of the field day, participants and farmers were able to share information about their project, and other growers are adopting the sustainable practices of the project participants, such as using locally-available farm inputs. Farmers participating in the field day have adopted local sources of farm inputs on their own farms.

7. Participants are maintaining records on the cost of production of their new crops.


Castle Adolpho
Adolpho Farm
P.O. Box 475
Hoolehua, HI 96729
Office Phone: 8085676551
Russell DeCoite
L&R Farm
P.O. Box 126
Hoolehua, HI 96729
Office Phone: 8085679234
John Henry Kaiama
Kaiama Farm
P.O. Box 358
Hoolehua, HI 96729
Office Phone: 8089898175
Noah Freeman
Freeman’s Farm
P.O. Box 491
Hoolehua, HI 96729
Office Phone: 8083361508
Rick Tamanaha
Kaleikoa Farms
P.O. Box 171
Kualapuu, HI 96757
Office Phone: 8086580926