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.”
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.
“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.