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Kohala Center Awarded $152,000 To Assist Island Farming Cooperatives

The Kohala Center, Inc., a community-based non-profit on Hawaii Island, has been awarded a $151,913 grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist several farming cooperatives on Hawaii Island and Maui. USDA announced the grant awards today under the Small Socially Disadvantaged Producers Grant program, which offers technical assistance to help producers develop new markets and grow their operations.

Click to view release

Click to view release

In its grant proposal, the Kohala Center states it will use the funds to provide technical assistance to  Palili `O Kohala Cooperative (Hawaii Island), Maui Aquaponics Cooperative (Maui), Kau Agricultural Water Cooperative (Hawaii Island) and Cho Global Natural Farming Cooperative (Hawaii Island).

“Rural cooperatives are in a position to employ special marketing strategies to increase the bottom line for their farmers but may not always have the experience to do so,” said Russell S. Kokubun, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The Kohala Center has been a valuable resource for the agricultural community and this grant will expand its ability to strengthen these farming cooperatives, which the Abercrombie Administration recognizes as vital contributors to our economy and food-sustainability.”

Hawaii was one of 13 states that received funding under the Small Socially Disadvantaged Producers Grant. For more information on this grant, go to the USDA website:  http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAOC/bulletins/8cc03c

Kohala Center Receives $175,000 USDA Rural Development Grant

Chris J. Kanazawa, State Director for USDA Rural Development, announced the selection of the Kohala Center, Inc., to receive a $175,000 grant. The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program.

“Through this Rural Cooperative Grant, USDA Rural Development is enabling the Kohala Center to expand its capacity to support rural cooperatives that help expand businesses, retain or create new jobs and to increase economic growth in the communities throughout our Hawaiian islands,” Kanazawa announced.

The Kohala Center is an independent, not-for-profit, community-based center for research, conservation and education. With this grant funding, the Kohala Center intends to expand the Laulima Center which supports the development of cooperative businesses with technical assistance throughout the state of Hawaii. Funding is projecting to assist 30 distinct groups, 20 existing businesses, 8 existing cooperatives, and 5 new cooperative entities.

“Given The Kohala Center’s work in strengthening Hawaii’s local economy and given the demand for business and coop development services, especially on the part of small food producers, processors and distributors, we are delighted by the USDA’s support”, said Matt Hamabata, The Kohala Center’s Executive Director. “This continuing partnership will bring Hawai’i closer to reaching our ultimate goal of a vibrant and resilient economy.”

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $172 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

Hawaii Education Program Seeks to Increase STEM Education Through Gardening

Many teachers use creative methods to keep their students engaged in the curriculum they are teaching. Some methods work far better than others. For one group in Hawaii, teachers are using gardening to boost their science, technology and math classes, while placing an emphasis on Hawaii’s need for more experiential science learning related to agriculture and sustainability.

More than 100 teachers attended the Statewide School Garden Teacher Conference in Ho ‘Aina O Makaha, Oahu, last year as part of the Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network. Photo Credit: The Kohala Center

The Kohala Center is using funding from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Secondary Higher Education and Ag in the Classroom Challenge grants program to organize the Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network. This network, consisting of 30 elementary, middle and high school teachers, will establish a School Learning Garden program that will integrate core curriculum and STEM education with hands-on, garden-based learning.

Over the course of one year, participating teachers will complete six learning modules that include a summer intensive, various school garden visits, a mentoring/teacher observation program and a garden-based research project. Each is designed to help them develop the skills and confidence needed to be a sustainability educator in a school garden setting.

As Hawaii is at the threshold of an agricultural renaissance, island residents understand the urgent need to return to more sustainable food and energy systems and to improve the state’s environment and human health. However, for this renaissance to be successful, the education pipeline needs to motivate students to gain the education needed for change to happen. School gardens are a logical place for experiential science learning and schooling for sustainability to start. The long-term goal of the project is to create an agricultural education program at the elementary and secondary levels that motivates and qualifies greater numbers of Hawai’i students to complete college-level agricultural science degree programs.

Food, water, energy, waste and economics play into the whole system of the garden every time a gardener goes out to work. Farming and gardening today have become a science with an emphasis on technology. The Hawai’i Island School Garden Network hopes to develop a team of educators who will bring science and the art of food production together in soil/seed to table programs.

Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?

Media Release:

The Kohala Center invites you to “Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us?playing November 9 -11 at 7 pm at Honoka’a People’s Theatre. Queen of the Sun is a profound, alternative look at the global honeybee crisis from Taggart Siegel, award-winning director of The Real Dirt on Farmer John (showing in Honoka’a @ 5 pm on Nov 9 & 11). Special event night on Wednesday, November 10th with local beekeepers.

Dryland Forest Grant Awarded

Media Release:

The Hawai’i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) has been awarded a $10,000 grant from Hawai’i County’s Department of Research and Development for its Ka Pilina Poina ‘Ole, “Connection Not Forgotten” project. This community-driven project provides interpretive materials and forest stewardship opportunities that connect two naturally and culturally significant destinations in North Kona; Ka’upulehu Dryland Forest Preserve and Kalaemano Cultural Center.

With grant monies, HFIA has already initiated the project, which involves sustaining fragile endangered dry forest ecosystems and sharing their unique historical, cultural, restoration, and scientific aspects to benefit Hawai’i residents and visitors. A Mauka-Makai (mountain to ocean) “Connection Not Forgotten” informal talk story evening is being planned for February 25, 2010 at the Kalaemano Cultural Center at 6 PM. Call 808-933-9411 no later than February 19 to RVSP for this free event.

Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Yvonne Yarber Carter has started developing educational and interpretive materials, stories for an audio story center, and curriculum for the stewardship outreach program. The story center will feature live voices from oral histories, bringing connections to the past alive. Educational materials include field learning guides for youth visitors. These rich remembrances and cultural stories are made possible through a partnership with the gifted Ku’ulei Keakealani, Director of the Ka’upulehu Cultural Center at Kalaemano, who has deep ancestral ties to the lands…

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