HONOKAA, Hawaii: The next phase of the Kapulena Agricultural Park is set to begin. An important meeting will be held in Honokaa on Monday evening to move the project forward with cattle grazing.
The county issued this media release last week:
The Hamakua Farm Bureau is inviting ranchers to join in a cattle grazing program in the first agricultural project launched at the County of Hawai`i agricultural park at Kapulena.
The program will be operated by the Hamakua Farm Bureau on a portion of the County-owned Kapulena lands just above the Hamakua ditch between Honoka`a and Waipio Valley. The county has cleared old cane haul roads, installed fencing, installed heavy gates for security, and provided water infrastructure to support grazing on this portion of the Kapulena lands.
This pilot initiative will open the first 85 acres of the Kapulena lands for a cooperative grazing arrangement, with animals provided by participating cattle producers. The project is open to ranchers from anywhere in the county, and will accommodate up to 50 cull-type cows at a time.
The cooperative grazing program will provide grazing opportunities to allow local cattle producers to remove their cull cows from their herds for fattening before marketing them. The project will also help clear thick vegetation on former sugar cane lands that have lain fallow for more than 15 years. Once the lands are grazed down, they will be made available for more intensive farming projects proposed by the community.
The Hamakua Farm Bureau is inviting interested cattle producers to a briefing on the details of the pilot project at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 15 at the North Hawai`i Education and Research Center (NHERC) in Honoka`a. A drawing to determine the first group of participating cattle producers will follow.
For more information, contact Hamakua Farm Bureau President Jill Mattos at 960-5605, or Hamakua Farm Bureau Vice President Jason Moniz at 960-8409.
December 26, 2009 – Work begins on Kapulena ag lands
In November, amidst a storm of controversy over a plan to sell county owned lands in order to balance the budget, Mayor Billy Kenoi announced a commitment to make 1,739 acres of the Kapulena land available for community-based agriculture.
Leaders and farmers in the Hamakua region went on a field trip in late December – the first group examination of the project. State Senator Dwight Takamine, State Rep. Mark Nakashima, and members of the County Farm Bureau (among others) joined the mayor in a brainstorm over what sort of approach would be best for the project. Discussions included ideas on what type of crops would be best suited for the land, infrastructure needs, and community involvement. The gathering was mostly intended as an opportunity for interested parties to see the lands first hand.
The county says uses of the Kapulena lands could range from community gardens to larger-scale ranching and commercial production of crops to educational programs that will encourage youth to enter agricultural fields.
The project would be the largest of its kind in the state, dwarfing the next largest state-run agricultural park in Molokai by a thousand acres.