Hoʻōla Farms Awarded USDA Grant | Media Release

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Hoʻōla Farms Awarded USDA Grant | Media Release

Groundwork to Grow: Agribusiness Program


Hoʻōla Farms has received a 3-year grant to fund their ‘Groundwork to Grow: Agribusiness’ pilot program.

[HILO, HAWAII, November 21, 2022] The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced four (4) awardees for the 2022 Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Program (AgVets). Projects were selected to offer onsite, hands-on training and classroom education, leading to a comprehensive understanding of successful farm and ranch operations and management practices, to ensure pathways for military veterans interested in pursuing careers in agriculture.

Among the four (4) recipients is Hilo’s own Hoʻōla Veteran Services—the nonprofit home of Hoʻōla Farms—to support their ‘Groundwork to Grow: Agribusiness’ pilot program.  The program is designed to support military veteran farmers, their families, and the community on Hawaiʻi Island by providing exposure and skills-based workshops and courses to help them succeed in agricultural careers. 

“We noticed a gap in the type of support that is provided to farmers, at least here in East Hawai’i.” said Anthony Florig, Program Manager for Groundwork to Grow at Hoʻōla Farms. “There is discussion and research and support for the production side, but not enough training around agribusiness principles, especially financial literacy, marketing and business development, all of which are essential to sustaining a resilient farm or agriculture business.”

Veterans, their families and civilians can all participate in a variety of free one-day ‘Intro to Grow’ workshops, and then can enroll in ‘Groundwork to Grow: Agribusiness,’ a more comprehensive four-week course that focuses on specific topics related to agribusiness formation and development. Topics include Master Food Preservers, Agribusiness Formation and Development, Financial Literacy for Farmers, and Agribusiness: Sales and Marketing. Experts and guest speakers from agencies such as the Hawaii Master Food Preservers, College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR), UH-Hilo, Hawaii Small Business Administration (SBA), and USDA will provide additional resources to support participants’ goals. 

“Our goal is to support the development of local farmers and producers, increasing our local economy and community resilience, and decreasing our reliance on imported food.” said Emily Emmons, Executive Director of Hoʻōla Farms. “This innovative program compliments our existing agriculture training programs with the agribusiness skills farmers and producers need to be successful in today’s marketplace.” she added. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice.

For more information about NIFA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, visit https://www.nifa.usda.gov/grants/programs/enhancing-agricultural-opportunities-military-veterans-agvets. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science (searchable by state or keyword), visit www.nifa.usda.gov/impacts.

Hoʻōla Veteran Services 501(c)(3), d.b.a. Hoʻōla Farms was established in 2015 to provide natural agriculture educational training and hands-on experiences for veterans, caregivers, and their families along with the community in hopes of creating a more sustainable future and well-being for all.

Those who are interested or who would like additional information about Hoʻōla Farms programs can visit  www.hoolafarms.org or contact emily@hoolafarms.org.