April 2004

The University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and HumanResources (CTAHR), in cooperation with the Kona Pacific Farmers Cooperative;has begun implementing a grant received from the Western Region SustainableAgriculture Research and Education (WSARE) program, a U.S. Department ofAgriculture competitive grants program. The three-year grant for $156,800 is titled “Development of aSustainable Polyculture and Marketing System for Exotic Tropical Fruits.” 
The “12 trees” project,developed by Ken Love and CTAHR economist Dr. Richard Bowen, calls for Konaarea chefs, produce companies and wholesale fruit buyers to identify the 12most promising types of fruit trees not yet commercially developed, from a listof more than 100 species already found in West Hawaii. The trees were alsoselected so that fruit could be harvested throughout the year.  The project will promote a differentfruit each month.


Producing treeswill be purchased and transplanted to the Kona Pacific Farmers
Cooperative, located near the bottom of Napo`opo`o Road, where a prototypeorganic fruit orchard and education center will be developed. The project willacquire trees and fruit from farmers and donate the fruit to the West Hawaii CommunityCollege Culinary School in return for recipes developed by student and guestchefs.  A recipe book and growing guides for the twelve fruit specieswill be published at the end of the three-year project.

“Everybody wins” says project manager Love. “The farmers candiversify to a much greater extent, while smoothing the demand for labor, andreduce their reliance on only one or two commercial crops. The culinary schoolwill receive free fruit for two years which will provide exciting challengesfor their students.  The KonaPacific Farmers Cooperative will acquire an organic fruit orchard, visitor andeducation center for their members and for the community. 
Island chefs will gain a competitiveedge by using the unusual fruit in their cuisines as production and markets ofthese exotic fruits and fruit products are developed.”


“We see this as an innovative way for CTAHR to workwith community groups to develop options for farmers to becomesustainable,” adds Bowen, the grant coordinator.  “The history of agriculture inHawaii has taught us that our farmers must continually innovate with newpractices and products to remain competitive.  This project seeks to stimulate profitable commercialproduction of new fruits and fruit products using environmentally soundpractices to benefit the local community.”