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About the Agriculture working group
Preliminary Themes, Goals, and Objectives from
the Small Group Meetings


These themes (recurring ideas) were derived from 130 small group meetings conducted across the Puna district.

Preliminary Themes (ECON – AG; PLAN – CC)
  1. Support local farmers
  2. Increase local food supply
  3. Diversify agriculture
  4. Increase Sustainable Farming
  5. Increase Organic Farming
  6. Encourage Community Gardens
  7. Preserve good agricultural lands

Preliminary Goal – Local agricultural producers are supported and thriving.

Preliminary Objectives

These objectives have been derived from themes generated from 3,394 ideas provided through broad citizen input. The numbers in parentheses indicate which theme or themes were used to develop the objectives.

A. Support existing agricultural industries. (1)

B. Promote local produce by expanding Farmers Markets in Puna (Maku’u, Pahoa, Keaau, Volcano). (2)

C. Market the benefit of purchasing locally grown produce. (1,2)

D. Create incentives for organic, diversified & sustainable farming. (1, 2, 4, 5, 6)

E. Minimize agricultural dependence on toxic (synthetic) chemicals. (4, 5)

F. Encourage creation of community gardens. (6)

G. Ensure that good agricultural land is preserved. (7)


Excerpts from Previous Plans

Considerable time, thought, and community-wide effort has been applied to the issue of agriculture in Puna over the past decade or more, resulting in a number of plans that have made specific recommendations. Pertinent excerpts of those plans are below.

"Puna is primarily an agriculture district with high diversification of production. There are approximately 198,747 acres zoned for agricultural use. The major agricultural commodities in Puna include macadamia nuts, cut flowers, foliage, papaya, bananas, tropical fruits, and vegetable production. Puna produces over 90% of the State’s papaya crop and is currently thriving. The industry as has been faced with challenges ranging from fruit flies to the Papaya Ringspot Virus."

"Other small-scale production by independent growers occurs in the form of various exotic fruits, coffee, cocao, avocado, honey, awa, lychee, rambutan, cherimoya, star-fruit, sapodilla, mangosteen, jackfruit, guava, breadfruit, atemoya, and some livestock. Many are not dependent upon subsidies for financial protection; a long-term strength of Puna agriculture. Flower production occurs throughout the district, but is concentrated in Mountain View, Pahoa, Kapoho, and Volcano. Several truck farms are located in Volcano and mainly produce lettuce, temperate range flowers, and cabbage. An independent goat farm exists in Hawaiian Acres, which is one of the most successful in the pacific. Ku’a oko’a farm supplies restaurants throughout the state with some mainland distribution."

"Current trends, both in Hawaii and globally, suggests higher cost and competition for agricultural water in the future. Water presents itself as a major factor of agricultural production. Puna’s high rainfall generally supplies agricultural needs through economical catchment. However, during dry times, growers begin to rely on County water service. Existing water infrastructure is composed of County lines designed for domestic use, and does not have the capacity to provide for agricultural uses during dry periods."

The County of Hawai'i General Plan, adopted by ordinance in 2005, sets the land use and community development policy for the County of Hawai'i, and is intended to serve as a guide for state and federal government and private sector, as well.

"Course of Action:
Assist in the further development of the agricultural industry by providing support services to commodity groups and other organizations such as farmer's cooperatives, protecting important agricultural lands, and requesting and providing necessary capital improvements."

"The General Plan Land Use Planning and Guidance (LUPAG) map identifies the location of “Important Agricultural Lands” in Puna. This map can be accessed at the following website: http://www.hawaii-county.com/la/gp/2005/MapsLUPAG.pdf."

In 1995, the County of Hawai'i secured the services of a consultant to complete the Puna Community Development Plan. While it was not adopted, this document sets forth some specific recommendations for agricultural lands and activity:

"Collaborate with community groups to develop ways to separate and buffer agricultural and residential uses within existing subdivisions. For example, transfer of development right to increase residential density and decrease agricultural density; encourage organic farming to buffer residential and general agriculture, light industry or mixed uses.
Consider amendment to the County Zoning code to establish a minimum three-acre lot size for agricultural subdivisions, where a change of zone is required, with the exception of subdivisions to five lots or less.
Encourage collaboration between agricultural and other economic interests to master-plan interrelated land uses, such as the integration of trail corridors, bed and breakfasts, small restaurants, and farmers’ markets into agricultural communities, but so that these small-scale, village-type uses are clustered in planned areas rather than allowed as “spot” uses in agriculturally zoned areas.
Support local food production and competitive marketing for local consumption.
The County Department of Research and Development should encourage collaborative efforts by commodity and other agricultural groups, and state and federal agricultural agencies, to form a regional agricultural task force to coordinate agricultural resource management, infrastructure, research, and other institutional support in a manner that maintains confidentiality for farmers and commodity groups.
Encourage the designation of agricultural buffers, based on Agricultural Lands of Importance to the State of Hawaii (ALISH) designations, to serve as green belt areas, within which subdivisions of agricultural lands for residential purposes is prohibited.
Support the expansion of the freight facility/marshalling yard/storage facility in Hilo to serve expanding industry.
Support state funding for development of agricultural water systems designed to meet the needs of Puna farmers.
Encourage the amendment of the County tax code relating to forestry, pasture, and agro-forestry, to provide greater incentives for sustainability, flood control, protection of native species in keeping with the goals of the General Plan.
Support efforts to legislate regulations for the certification and labeling of organic produce in Hawaii."

In addition to these County-sponsored plans, a 1999 community-initiated plan for Hawaiian Acres makes the following recommendations for agriculture:

"Support and encourage diversified agriculture. Diversity promotes sustainability.
Support restrictions on excessive herbicide and pesticide use, due to its wind-borne intrusion of water catchment, organic and subsistence gardens, neighboring homes, ect., possibly by means of restrictive covenants.
Support and encourage environmentally friendly, sustainable agricultural practices, possibly by covenant."
Notice:

Have you, or someone you know,
noticed a lack of response
from Hawai’i County via email?


Emails from Hawai‘i County have recently been blocked by Google servers. This means that if you have a Gmail account or use Google as your email provider, such as hawaii.edu, or a business Gmail account, our emails may not be getting through to you.

We recognize the inconvenience this may cause and have been working diligently to fix this problem. If you suspect you have not received an email from us, please contact the Planning Department via email or phone. If you can provide an alternate way for us to contact you, that would help us keep you informed.

Mahalo for your patience!

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