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The Kohala Center's

Demonstration farm

Meet a Seed Grower

Meet the Farmers at  

The Kohala Center's Demonstration Farm:

Donna Mitts, Melanie Willich and Ka'iana Runnels

The Kohala Center Demonstration Farm

Honoka'a, Hawaiʻi Island

The Kohala Center’s (TKC) 12-acre Demonstration Farm is located in Honoka‘a at about 800 ft. elevation and averages 95” of rain annually. Our farm is surrounded by ironwood trees and sits on the slopes of Maunakea within the ahupua‘a of Nāmoku. We cultivate only the fairly level areas, which consist of several fields that are bordered by vetiver grass hedges and gliricidia and moringa trees that serve as windbreaks and protection against erosion of our Pa‘auhau Inceptisol soils. Through a combination of cover cropping, mulching, composting, and crop rotation, soil health has been steadily improving on this ‘āina, which had been cleared of its native mesic forests and traditional agroforestry and swidden systems for sugar cane production during the 20th century.

 

Recently, we developed a plot dedicated to the Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative, a TKC program since 2010, to grow seed for crops developed by the Hawai‘i Seed Growers Network, and to conduct variety trials. The farm team includes Donna Mitts, Ka‘iana Runnels, and Melanie Willich. We continuously combine and improve our individual expertise in organic farming (Donna), Hawaiian agricultural practices and plant identification (Ka‘iana), and tropical agroecosystems research (Melanie) to support TKC’s mission of improving the conditions that lead to stronger relationships with our food, water, place, and people. We select crop varieties for yield stability in low-fertilizer input systems, resilience against pests, and tolerance toward high temperatures. Fruit shape and taste are additional traits we pay attention to in our work on locally adapted seeds. At the farm, Donna is our principal seed grower, while Ka‘iana stewards the indigenous crops and agroforestry sections, and Melanie oversees variety trials and cropping system development. We also regularly host our Ōhāhā High School AgriCULTURE and Ōhāhā Farmer Training programs, as well as public workshops at the farm. To learn more, check out https://kohalacenter.org/programs. To view any of the presentations at the first Statewide Seed Symposium in 2010 with our Partners The Organic Seed Alliance: https://kohalacenter.org/hpsi

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The Kohala Center's 12-acre Demonstration Farm is located in Honoka'a at about 800 ft elevation and averages 95" of rain annually. The Farm is surrounded by ironwood trees and sits on the slopes of Maunakea within the ahapua'a of Namoku.moku
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At the farm, Donna is the principal seed grower, while Ka'iana stewards the indigenous crops and agroforestry sections, and Melanie oversees variety trials and cropping systems development. We also regularly host our Ohaha High School AgriCULTURE and Ohaha Farmer Training programs, as well as public workshops at the farm. To learn more, check out https://kohalacenter.org/programs

hands and seeds.jpg
Purple Cowpea and pod
Purple Cowpea and pod

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Purple Cowpea and pod
Purple Cowpea and pod

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