THE KILAUEA COMMUNITY AGRICULTURAL CENTER; A BRIEF HISTORY

Posted by on Feb 29, 2016

As clarification to an inaccurate article on the Kilauea Community Ag Center published on February 27, 2016, here are facts and a chronology of what has transpired:

In 1976, developers applied for a permit to subdivide and develop a portion of land used by the Kīlauea Sugar Plantation, now known as the Seacliff Plantation subdivision.  Intervenor status against this permit was filed by David Sproat, David Boynton, and David Moore. It took three years and perseverance by Sproat to have the developer concede to an unobstructed view of Nihoku (Crater Hill) as well as dedicated acreage for the purpose of an Ag Park, school site, botanical garden, and regular park.  Today, we still have an unobstructed view of Nihoku since the land was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Trust for Public Lands.  The school site and the Ag Center have become a reality but not the other two.  The Kilauea Christian Academy and the Kilauea Community Ag Center have been created and the deeds for both are in the hands of their respectful owners.

In 2006 after many unsuccessful efforts from the community to farm acreage within the Ag Park, the community felt that ownership would be more secure in the hands of the County of Kauai.  In that year the deed changed hands from Sea Cliff Plantation to the County of Kauai.  Excited with this new acquisition, the Office of Economic Development, under the supervision of Sue Kanoho, and then followed by, George Costa, a master plan was developed in conjunction with an Environmental Assessment.  During a presentation to the Kilauea Neighborhood Association, the County announced to the community that they didn’t have the $7.2 million to implement the master plan for the Ag Park.

It was at that point that Kilauea community member Yoshito L’Hote inquired about a possible partnership with the County to allow the community to help the County implement the master plan, which seemed to have an inflated pricetag.  In 2014, a stewardship agreement was created to allow the community ownership of the parcel promised to them for 30+ years.   L’Hote needed to create a non-profit organization to represent the community and he put together a board largely reflective of the Kilauea community involved with the project since the beginning.  The board did not wait for their 501c3 status to get started and proceeded under the umbrella of Malama Kauai to start implementing the master plan.  With an initial $100,000, followed by another $50,000 from County Council, the now authorized non-profit entity, ʻĀina Hoʻokupu o Kīlauea, put up a fence and began clearing the vegetation in Phase I.   They also dealt with the illegal campsites, 24+ abandoned vehicles, and the 150 cubic yards of rubbish left behind over 35 years.  They have received necessary permits and conservation plans for development, successfully cleared 11 acres, mulched the perimeter of the site, initiated designs for a farmer’s market area (with public restrooms), designed a pedestrian entry way, created a strategic plan, and developed a project timeline.  They are now assisting Malama Kauaʻi to purchase and install infrastructure including County water meters, water line, temporary office space and a storage container through a Grant in Aid (GIA) grant from the Hawaiʻi State Legislature.

ʻĀina Hoʻokupu o Kīlauea is now in a position to bless the site (March 20, 2016) and bring the first farmers on the land.  Along with the farm lots that will be available, a community garden as well as a Community Run Agriculture farm will be created, where 30 families will be farming one acre under the supervision of a farm supervisor.  Families will provide the labor and a supervisor will schedule planting, maintenance, and harvests. Each family will take home a box of produce twice a week.

In the next phase, the focus is on bringing surface water to the site (potentially 360,000 gallons per day).  Early discussions have already determined the willingness and support from the neighbors, not only to provide the water, but to allow it to be piped to the site.  Many details have yet to be worked out but to know that this project has the community’s support is answering to the promise made to the County Council to be able to leverage public funds as well as implement the plan for less.  The original master plan priced the water system at around $3 million. With the help of our neighbors, we will be able to implement it for around $800,000.

It took almost 40 years to bring this project to life.  In just one year, we can see that when community works with government, we can move mountains.  This is a community site; your community site.  Please get involved and make it even greater!

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