Mahi Pono’s Ag Park Applications Open for Community Farming
Mahi Pono, LLC, today announced that applications are now available for Hawaiʻi residents and small local businesses interested in applying for a two-, five- or 10-acre parcels at its agriculture park.
The first phase of the community farm available for lease will only include two- and five- acre lots on 40 acres of land (Refer to map below: parcel 718CF) in a 250 acre field in Puʻunēnē along Maui Veterans Highway. These lots can only be used for farming activities.
“As we work to return the land back to active agriculture production, providing an ag park for community farming has been an essential part of Mahi Pono’s long-term plans,” said Shan Tsutsui, senior vice president of operations for Mahi Pono. “Increasing local food production and achieving food security is essential to Maui and our state, the ag park will provide small local farmers the opportunity to grow a variety of crops and bring them to market as well as value added food products for export.”
Future leases will be available on three additional identified plots (Refer to map: 303CF, 301CF, 403CF) and will include five- and 10-acres parcels intended for business use while the two-acre parcels are available for subsistence farming. The lease rates for lots will be $150 per acre, per year for the duration of the lease. Applicants must be a US Citizen and Hawaiʻi resident for three or more years.
“The ag park parcels are ready to farm and have access to irrigation, windbreaks and ungulate fencing around the perimeter of the fields. It may be an ambitious goal, but we hope to have the leases executed as soon as possible and have the first local farmers on the land before the end of this year,” said Tsutsui.
Applications are now available at MahiPono.com they can either be downloaded or filled out online and submitted electronically. The completed (downloaded) application must be returned via email to [email protected] or mailed to Mahi Pono, One Main Plaza, Suite 405, Wailuku, HI 96793. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis and reviewed as they are received.
Mahi Pono’s Community Advisory Board, chaired by Robert “Uncle Bobby” Pahia, owner of Hoaloha Farms and members Vincent Mina, president of the Hawai‘i Farmers Union United, Maui County representative on the Hawai‘i State Board of Agriculture, and owner of Kahanu ‘Āina Greens LLC; James “Kimo” Falconer, owner of MauiGrown Coffee; and Ryan Earehart, owner of Oko‘a Organic Farm, will review applications and provide recommendations on farmers and crops that best fit the agricultural needs of the island.
“Earlier this year, we gathered together a group of respected farming and agricultural experts on Maui that were willing share their thoughts, experience and knowledge with Mahi Pono’s leadership team – this evolved into our community advisory board,” said Tsutsui. “We really value their advice and leadership, but most importantly their desire to do what’s right for our community and the residents of Maui.”
“To reflect on what Kauikeaouli (King Kamehameha III) once proclaimed, Ua Mau ke Ea o Ka ‘Āina I ka Pono — the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. Together, I believe, we can do what is righteous for the ‘āina and our community,” said Pahia.
Fellow board member Earehart said, “As a farmer an advocate of local diversified regenerative agriculture, I am enthusiastic about Mahi Pono’s new community farm that is being offered to the public. It’s a really great location that will be supported with affordable water, windbreaks and deer fencing as well as extensive field preparations and a cover crop. I believe this a great stride toward food security and experienced farmers will be able to get in and start producing quickly thanks to this very generous support offered by Mahi Pono. It takes an enormous commitment to bring these former sugar cane lands back into production. The soil tests are looking very clean and it appears that the land will be great for organic production.”
Falconer also provided a statement saying, “It’s been an exciting process working with Mahi Pono and the Community Advisory Board towards a vision of an organized community farm. It’s a great gift to the community and a positive step towards Maui’s food security.”
And fellow board member Mina said, “We are heartened and excited that there will be a place held by Mahi Pono for our community family farmers being supported to supply healthy, fresh, and value added, locally produced agricultural products for all.”