The FAM Apprentices and their mentors at their Farm Apprentice Mentoring (FAM)
Thanks to a County of Maui Proviso, the Haleakala and Mauna Kahalawai Maui Chapters of the Hawaii Farmers Union United have graduated their first cohort of 7 dedicated farm apprentices. The Phase One FAM program is constructed to immerse the apprentices in the process of honing the essential principles and practices of regenerative agriculture
In Phase Two, under a FY16 Proviso from the County these apprentices are taking next steps in launching their farming careers, creating viable business plans for their own farms and/or agricultural cooperatives.
FAM: Classroom Learning and On-the Farm Mentoring
In order to graduate with a certificate of completion, the first cohort took 120 hours of classroom learning that included:
- Gerry Ross’s Sustainable Agriculture class at UH-Maui College and
- an Agri-logic workshop where they learned about crop insurance and costs of production.
- They had an all-day class in creating a crop and farm operation plan and in the later months
- a business planning class at Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO).
- The topper was a Korean Natural Farming class with Master Cho and Master Cho’s son at UH-Hilo and finally
- a workshop taught by the Kohala Center for Cooperative Business Development in building farming cooperatives.
Along with the classroom experience the cohort completed 200 hours of mentor-driven on-the-farm activity where they learned about preparing the ground, planting, tending and harvesting a number of different. All this took place in the first 6 months of the program.
Phase 2: Your own farm
During the second 6 months, the first cohort entered Phase 2 with an actual farm project to plan and work on that will include their completing a business plan and learning the marketing of a value-added product. Five of the apprentices are paired with their farm mentors, Alika Atay and James Simpliciano (of the Mauna Kahalwai Chapter) on the west side growing Moringas as a specialty crop. Blessed by a grant given to HFUU-Haleakala and Mauna Kahalawai Chapter from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the apprentices and their mentors will have 2 years and a $40,000 grant to determine the viability of Moringa for the rest of the state. These five apprentices will learn how to create a cooperative, allowing them to take ownership of the project as they participate with their mentors in exploring the market value of the multiple uses of the Moringa crop.
Thanks to the University of Hawaii-Maui College Food Innovation Center Accelerator Program (MAP), James Simpliciano will be taking the MAP class and sharing what he is learning about value added product with the apprentices. This will include the 5 working on Moringa and the 2 apprentices who are working on farms currently as they too prepare their farming futures.