Monday, September 17, 2012

Hō‘ea Agricultural Park Master Plan Wins Sustainability Award

We are proud and honored that the American Planning Association – Hawaiʻi Chapter awarded Hoʻokuleana LLC with the “Innovation in Sustaining Places” for our preparation of the Master Plan for the Hō‘ea Agricultural Park.

In issuing the award, "The APA Awards Jury felt the plan incorporates innovative concepts in agricultural park planning, especially in terms of the layout and design of the facility which includes the reuse of resources and farming best practices. They found the plan transferable to other facilities in the County."

"The careful, systematic review of relevant state and local policies as well as plans for the area helps to facilitate implementation of this innovative project."

"The inclusion of specific management strategies and actions to support the project mission and goals also helps to increase project success. The research on Hawaiian values as well as coverage of topics such as permaculture, public health and local economic development makes this plan comprehensive, ambitious and worthy of recognition."

This is the third year in a row that we received an APA-Hawaiʻi award.  Last year we received the “Environment – Preservation” award for the Corridor Management Plan for the Scenic Byway on Aliʻi Drive in Kona and the year before we received the “Environment – Preservation” award for the ʻĀina Mauna Legacy Program forest and habitat restoration.

Hō‘ea Ag Park is a proposed private agricultural park situated at ʻUpolu Point in North Kohala on the island of Hawaiʻi.  The core of the agricultural park is 450‐acres of actively farmed fee simple privately‐owned property.

In addition to the conventional land use layout, we included specific management and operational recommendations in the Master Plan. These were made to help assure that food will be the focus, goals/commitments are being addressed and tenants are on track to fulfill the mission and vision.

In a sense, the Ag Park management philosophy views the overall Agricultural Park more like an integrated farm, rather than an assemblage of independent, individual farms.

The context in which the Master Plan was prepared, particularly in relation to the overall Agricultural Park management strategy, addresses strong and recurring themes of Tradition, Sustainability, Integrated Holistic Approach, Long‐term Timeframe, Cooperation and Collaboration, Diversity of Foods and Economic Viability – melding Hawaiian traditional wisdom with modern sustainability concepts.

Rather than the typical Agricultural Park where Park management passively collects the rent, our recommendations suggest Hō‘ea management is actively involved, making sure goals/commitments are being addressed and tenants/collaborators are on track to fulfill the Park’s mission and vision.  These include:

  • Identify needs, seek farmers/operators to fill those needs
  • Provide support facilities (water, storage, processing, marketing, distribution, etc)
  • Make capital investments – cost recovery can be made through amortization of costs into lease rents
  • Prepare farmers for Best Farming Practices – set operational and production standards, adhering to resource protection measures
  • Grow a set of new farmers ‐ support education programs (all aspects of farming and crop innovation, etc; but not just farming, include economics, business planning, financing, etc)
  • Conduct research and development, adapt and change
  • Be actively engaged in marketing, on behalf of the agricultural park, in general, and the respective individual farm operations/products
  • Integrate sustainable agriculture, natural/cultural resource stewardship and public education
  • Lead, but learn from others
  • Be more than just an agricultural park, be a destination, incubator of ideas and model for others to follow

The vision of the Hō`ea Agricultural Park is the development and management of the agricultural park as a diversified, collaborative, sustainable system that provides land access and farming opportunities for multiple small farmers whose production, marketing and education activities support local food availability, that is economically viable, environmentally sound and provides value for all participants – the North Kohala community, farmers and Hawai`i County residents.

More specifically, the following highlight some of the recommendations in the Master Plan that focus on successful and sustainable (economically, socially and environmentally) practices within the Agricultural Park (these enhance revenue opportunities, as well as reduce the cost of operation – in all cases, seeking multiple benefits from each action:)

  • Focus is on Farming, and Food specifically, not ornamental or other agricultural uses
  • Diversity of Food (Grown and produced in the Agricultural Park)
  • On‐Park Farm Stand (Selling products grown/produced in the Agricultural Park)
  • On‐Park Farm Cafe (Preparing and selling products grown/produced in the Agricultural Park)
  • Marketing Coordinated by the Agricultural Park – replacing wholesaler (this provides cost savings and benefits that are passed on to the farmer and allows farmer to focus on farming)
  • Diverse Marketing Strategies (Farm‐to programs, subscriptions, local outlets, neighboring resorts, etc)
  • Waste Reuse (Waste from one farm fills a need on another (green waste; fish/animal feed components, etc); aquaponics using nutrient rich fish water to produce vegetable crops)
  • Pasture‐Raised cattle, pig and chicken (Feed supplemented from range)
  • Water Reuse (Aquaponics to maximize production with minimal water; taro lo‘i water flows into irrigation system)
  • Slaughter/Processing (Value added, cost savings passed on to the farmer)
  • No Single‐family Homes on Farms (Focus is on farming and growing food for the community, not housing or homesteads)
  • Worker Housing Facility (Assist farmers by providing on‐Park worker housing, with cost recovery to the Agricultural Park)
  • Slaughter Facilities (Keeping investment at appropriate scale and provides flexibility for use by others)
  • Agricultural Park Investment in Infrastructure (Reduces farmer investment at entry level, cost recovery to Agricultural Park built into lease rent payments)
  • Agricultural Park Investment in Shared Equipment (Seek maximum utilization of equipment; allow small farmer to use (for a fee) rather than purchase)
  • Best Farming Practices (Protects and enhances the soil; prevents run‐off out of Agricultural Park)
  • Soil Replenishment (Through Composting/Beneficial, Effective and Indigenous Microorganisms)
  • Renewable Energy Sources (Multiple sources of electrical power through hydroelectric, solar and wind)
  • Adaptive Reuse of Sugar Plantation Infrastructure (Road systems, water systems, etc)
  • Windbreaks Protect the Land (but also add to the food output - sugar, bamboo shoots, etc – forming a linear orchard, linear pasture)
  • Outreach, Research and Education (Farmers can learn the latest opportunities, the community is included in the educational programs, etc)

Ultimately, this is demonstrated by fulfilling the goal of: Food from Kohala for Kohala.

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