Kilauea Community Agricultural Center continues to grow

  • photo submitted by ‘Aina Ho’okupu o Kilauea

    This May 2018 photo shows the Kilauea Community Agricultural Center’s 1.5-acre farm.

KILAUEA — You can now get a box of fresh and local organic produce once a week and help support farming on Kauai’s North Shore at the same time.

It’s the second season of the Community Supported Agriculture box program from Kilauea Community Agricultural Center, and one of the many strides community organization ‘Aina Ho’okupu o Kilauea has made in the last six months.

The not-for-profit organization began in September 2015 with the focus on the well-being of the Kilauea community, and CEO Yoshito L’Hote says the last three years have brought both growing pains and pride to those involved.

“It feels like we have made it to our first baby lu’au — the first right of passage,” L’Hote said. “As we learn how to walk, we want to mahalo all that have helped us get here and rejoice in all that is to come.”

The Kilauea Community Agricultural Center has been AHK’s main project and its roots started more than 20 years ago, with farmers and community members wanting to diversify the economy.

It’s a 1.5-acre farm with a current production of about 30,000 pounds of vegetables, distributed to CSA members, senior groups and schools, run by donations and volunteers.

The KCAC grows more than 30 kinds of vegetables, fruits and cut flowers and members subscribe, pay a fee and receive their box of local produce weekly.

The list of produce is growing, however, and since the beginning of 2018 organizers have been exploring the production of four new crops — breadfruit, fodder, hemp and ponogamia.

“(These are) viewed as potentially strong economic engines for agriculture on Kauai,” L’Hote said.

Other changes at KCAC this year are the development of another 1,200 feet of tree berm to increase beautification and privacy at the site, secured the $675,000 needed to implement water systems on site, and the relocation of the Sunshine Market on Thursday afternoons to 3:30 p.m. at KCAC.

While the community farm is a major project of AHK, floods mobilized the entity as well in the Kilauea area.

“AHK is also committed to listening to the community and assisting as needs rise,” L’Hote said. “The recent natural disasters across all our islands demonstrated the resilience of our communities.”

AHK provided help for all Kalihiwai residents impacted by the flood, assisting with immediate relief for 14 families.

The organization paid utility bills, replaced cell phones, and bought water heaters for families in Hanalei, Wainiha and Haena and is involved in the planning for a shuttle system from Princeville to Hanalei that will eventually span from Kilauea to Kee.

AHK’s leaders envision the organization continuing the support of sustainable housing, economic development, youth activities and enrichment, social work and resource management for the North Shore communities.

“AKH aims to engage the community and motivate them to create and embrace their own version of change, as we realize the next phase of Hawaiian culture should arise from within current stakeholders,” L’Hote said.

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Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at jelse@thegardenisland.com

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