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GoFarm participants plant greens at the program’s Waialua site.

The University of Hawaiʻi’s successful farmer-training program GoFarm Hawaiʻi has received $600,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The additional funding will allow GoFarm Hawaiʻi to continue training aspiring farmers to increase local agricultural production.

GoFarm Hawaiʻi has five program sites across four islands, making it one of the largest beginning-farmer training programs in the nation. Sites are located on Oʻahu (in Waimānalo and Waialua), Kauaʻi, Maui and Hawaiʻi Island. Started in 2012, the program has trained more than 260 aspiring farmers throughout the state.

“We are grateful for this funding and look forward to training and supporting those who want to farm in Hawaiʻi,” said Janel Yamamoto, GoFarm Hawaiʻi program director. “In addition to growing thousands of pounds of food for the local market, our graduates are creating great value-added products, developing cooperative ways to market and distribute food, educating our island keiki about the importance of the local food supply and being leaders and active participants in the agricultural community.”

GoFarm Hawaiʻi is a collaborative effort involving UH Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Windward Community College and UH’s Agribusiness Incubator Program.

GoFarm participants learn to construct portable chicken coops.

Learning from the ground up

GoFarm Hawaiʻi is a comprehensive and practical training program built around the real-world needs of tomorrow’s farmers. It involves several stages of increasing commitment and learning, from an initial AgCurious seminar open to the public, followed by a series of AgXposure workshops, a four-month AgSchool course and a six-month AgPro option that provides deeper learning. At certain locations, graduates are eligible for three years of incubation support while they grow crops on land provided by the program.

All aspects of farmer training, from crop selection and farm equipment instruction to pesticide information and business plan guidance, are covered in a mix of hands-on and classroom learning. Specifics of programs may vary by location.

“The GoFarm program does more than teach Hawaiʻi’s citizens how to grow crops,” said CTAHR Dean Nicholas Comerford. “It strives to develop an informed constituency who are responsible stewards of the land as well as integral members of our local food system. This may be the greatest impact that GoFarm has.”

For more details and to enroll in the program, visit the GoFarm website.

More about the GoFarm Hawaiʻi program

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