KILAUEA — The dirt has been flying over at the ‘Aina Ho’okupu o Kilauea Community Farm, also known as the Kilauea ag park.
In fact, during 2016, volunteers and members with the group opened up 12 acres of the 75-acre undeveloped land parcel bordering Kahili Quarry Road. The site was fenced in, an interior road was created, and county water system was implemented.
Five acres of commercial farm lots were developed, some of which are already being farmed, and two acres of the Community Farm are now providing hundreds of pounds of produce to the Kilauea Community.
“We have moved great strides and accomplished the implementation of phase one,” said Yoshito L’Hote, executive director for ‘Aina Ho’okupu o Kilauea.
The stone wall that will frame the pedestrian entry to the Community Farm has also been completed and 1,000 feet of privacy berm has been planted. Individual plots are being created and the group has finalized the plan for the 2.5-acre farmers’ market, fruit stand and public bathroom area.
“Buildings are being engineered and we are hoping to go in front of the planning commission to get our special use permits next month,” L’Hote said.
Fundraising for two of the farmers’ market structures will be done by the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay, which stepped forward to help with the project after members of the club “voted quite strongly,” said club President John Oszust.
“It’s a really good project for the community and it’s well organized,” Oszust said. “It’s moving at a good clip.”
The last large community project the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay was able to get involved with was building the Hanalei Pier, and Oszust said the club’s involvement will be similar with this project.
“Our club hasn’t done a project like that in a few years and I figured I’d seek that out as one of our club’s goals,” Oszust said.
He put out a community survey in September and identified 75 projects that were important to the people of the community. Of those, the top six were put up for a club vote.
“The Kilauea ag park was in the top six,” Oszust said. “It’s not our project, but we’d like to assist as much as we can by raising money to get those buildings up there and completed.”
The County of Kauai is helping foot the bill for the project’s permits and the construction of the parking lot and the department of economic development has pledged $90,000.
“An individual donor has vouched to fund the public restroom, but we still need some help for the fruit stand,” L’Hote said.
The biggest “missing piece in our puzzle” is the surface water system, which comes with a price tag of $750,000.
“We are looking to partner up with the state, federal government, and individual donors or foundations to achieve that goal,” L’Hote said.
While there are still some goals to achieve, the project as a whole has moved along quickly since ‘Aina Ho’okupu o Kilauea received the land through a stewardship agreement in 2014 with the county.
“(It’s) a project that will create economy, provide a community space, make organic produce available to all in the community, and address our food dependency coming form the mainland, while keeping our beautiful island’s rural character,” L’Hote said.