Growing the know-how

LIHUE — Eric Hansen, the coordinator and farm coach for Go Farm Hawaii at Kauai Community College, was elated with his finds of collards and dinosaurs.

The different types of kale emerged after Hansen whacked down a garden plot, the same one that will be used for the free agriculture class starting Feb. 10 at KCC.

“When I got here to prep the lot, there was nothing but guinea grass, a lot of it taller than I am,” Hansen said. “But after whacking it down, the kale, remnants of a previous program, was thriving. It’s a testament to how tough of a plant it is.”

Although geared for people interested in getting into farming as a career and business, Hansen said anyone interested in growing is welcome to the class that’s funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

“This is about the different aspects of farming, not just growing,” Hansen said. “But the principles students learn can be scaled back for people interested in doing a backyard garden.”

Three components make up the program.

Emphasis will be on the practical skills and knowledge needed to become a successful agricultural entrepreneur and includes the fundamentals of farm production and business management, while exposing students to the realities of farming by engaging with local seasoned farmers.

The AgCurious introduction class is free and runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 10 at the college’s Office of Continuing Education and Training, Room 106. There, students can discover if farming is in their future and meet with successful Kauai farmers about their start-up experiences, challenges, benefits and lifestyles.

AgXposure runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on either Saturday or Sunday between Feb. 21 and March 28. This phase involves tours of successful farms and hands-on learning experiences on farms throughout the island, Hansen said.

AgSchool, scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon April 12 through July 25, allows students to put to practice what they’ve learned in the first two components, Hansen said.

“This is what the plot is for,” Hansen said. “There is a mixture of classroom learning … Students get to put into the ground what they learned, and the salvaged kale is part of the project.”

There is a charge of $85 for the AgXposure and AgSchool and registration is being accepted at the OCET.

Hansen, who grew up on the Big Island, brings a wealth of growing experience to the college from managing plant kingdoms at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. He said the mission of Go Farm Hawaii is to enhance Hawaii’s food security and economy by increasing the number of local agricultural producers.

Info: OCET at 245-8318.

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