Introducing New Models for Overcoming Labor Barriers to the Economic Viability of Hawai’i Island’s Farms

Project Overview

Project Type: Local Ed & Demo (formerly RGR)
Funds awarded in 2024: $95,688.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2025
Grant Recipient: Hamakua Institute
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Dennis Flemming
Hamakua Institute
Andrea Kuch
Hamakua Institute
Melissa Nagatsuka
Hamakua Institute


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

Since 2021, the Hawai’i Island Agriculture Partnership (HIAP) has
been building a collaborative model for farms to share equipment,
services, and labor for improved economic efficiency and
profitability. This project will build upon those efforts to work
with HIAP members in aligning interests and opportunities for
establishing a HIAP labor improvement initiative that addresses
the challenges faced by small, local farms.

HIAP provides a useful structure for addressing this key
challenge. HIAP’s workforce development strategy team will serve
as an advisory council for the project. Key project activities
will include:
• Outreach and engagement with at least 60 producers, farm
workers, and agricultural service providers through meetings and
focus groups to review and discuss the local relevance of four
farm labor business models identified in a previous SARE research
study titled, "Creative Farm Business Models to Address Hiring,
Training, and Management Barriers" (LNE19 – 386R);
• Establishing a HIAP labor improvement initiative that
incorporates elements of the four labor models agreed by farmers
and farm workers as having the most potential for overcoming farm
labor challenges on Hawai’i Island; and
• Developing a set of web-based educational materials and at
least two educational workshops that help farmers understand the
new labor business models, service providers and other potential
options for overcoming their labor challenges.

Project objectives from proposal:

The objectives of this project
draw upon the conclusions and lessons of the original SARE
research (LNE19 – 386R) to determine the appropriate labor
business models most suitable for Hawaii Island. 

Objective 1: By month 6,
increase at least 60 farmers and farmworkers’ knowledge of the
four innovative labor business models from previous SARE research
and gather feedback on which have the most potential for Hawai’i
Island. Farmers will have improved understanding of the specific
challenges of applying each labor business model in a local

Objective 2: By month 12,
improve knowledge and awareness of farmers’ about farm labor
issues and potential solutions on Hawai’i Island, collectively
creating a labor improvement initiative to HIAP’s workforce
development strategy. 

Objective 3: By month 18,
increase the technical capacity of HIAP members in implementing
labor improvements under its workforce development strategy by
developing a set of web-based educational and awareness materials
and at least two educational workshops that help farmers
understand new business models, service providers, and options
for overcoming their pervasive labor challenges. 

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.