Water Conservationists celebrated

LIHUE — The Kekaha Agriculture Association, a group of stakeholders who have a direct and vested interest in the agricultural lands in the Kekaha area, and Dylan Strong of Growing Strong Farm were named as the 2015 Outstanding Water Conservationists of the year.

The KAA award was presented by the West Kauai Soil and Water Conservation District. Strong received the award presented by the East Kauai Soil and Water Conservation District.

“It is nice to see the younger generation taking over to continue the work started by their parents,” said Ed Kawamura Jr., representing the EKSWCD. “Dylan grows a diversity of vegetable and fruit crops, some of which are exceptionally difficult to grow in Hawaii. He also has layer hens for farm-fresh eggs.”

Strong produces crops using an array of conservation practices that helps conserve water as well as producing healthier soils and, in turn, healthier crops, Kawamura said. Some of the practices utilized by Growing Strong Farms include composting, cover cropping, drip irrigation, mulching, and even seasonal high tunny systems.

“Dylan uses compost made from his fruit and vegetable scraps,” Kawamura said. “He follows his produce planting with cover crops. The nutrients added by the compost and the organic matter from the cover crop provide a healtheir soil which can hold an increased amount of water and have it available for plants for longer periods of time.”

Peter Townsend represented the West Kauai Soil and Water Conservation District in presenting the award to Alan Smith, representing the Kekaha Agriculture Association.

“One of the most important resources for agriculture is water,” said Jenni Scotti, of the Soil and Water Conservation District. “Whether it comes as rainfall or irrigation, agriculture cannot survive without it. Keeping that in mind, minimizing waste and maximizing efficiencies are critical in maintaining this precious resource.

Townsend said the KAA goal was to stabilize, protect, and improve over the infrastructure developed by the sugar industry more than 100 years ago.

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