Want to be a beekeeper or try out goat and sheep production? Perhaps you dream of producing a new color of anthurium? Or maybe you want to dump the office job so you can commercially grow veggies?
What you need to know is at your fingertips as a variety of educational opportunities are available on Hawai‘i Island for prospective ranchers, farmers and horticulturists.
College Degrees in Agriculture
Tropical farming and beekeeping certificates, plus bachelor degrees in a variety of agricultural specialties, can be earned at the University of Hawaii-Hilo. Areas of concentration include livestock production, aquaculture, tropical horticulture, plus tropical plant science and agroecology. For the 2016-2017 catalog of degrees and certificates, visit https://hilo.hawaii.edu/catalog/degrees-and-certificates-offered.html.
With a goal to encourage island food sustainability, The Kohala Center has been offering the Beginning Farmer-Rancher Development Program since 2012 and has completed five cohorts. This program seeks to “motivate and train” the next generation of farmers during a seven-month course. It covers subjects like managing soil health and fertility, crop nutrition, pest management and business planning during 70 hours of class work, hands-on field days and farm tours. The Kohala Center also has a 10-acre demonstration site to provide apprenticeship opportunities. Find info at http://kohalacenter.org/farmertraining.
Community College Ag Credentials
Hawai‘i Community College in Hilo provides curricula preparing students for entrepreneurship or employment within the fields of agribusiness, horticulture, livestock, flowers and foliage, plus orchard crop industries. Students can earn credentials such as a certificate of achievement, a farm worker certificate of competency or an associate in applied science. Find information at https://hawaii.hawaii.edu/agriculture.
Long Distance Learning and Publications
The UH at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) offers distance learning agricultural courses, plus publications and videos on topics accessible to Hawai‘i Island residents. Find agricultural courses (listed with the prefix NREM, PEPS or TPSS) at http://cms.ctahr.hawaii.edu/disted/resources/distanceedcourses.aspx. Search for publications and videos of interest at http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site/Info.aspx.
CTAHR’s Cooperative Extension Service has numerous programs and information covering a wealth of agricultural topics; get started at http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site/Extprograms.aspx. In addition, there are CTAHR-related websites dedicated to providing farmer outreach on specific commodities; they include http://hawaiicoffee.weebly.com and http://ctahrmacadamia.weebly.com.
Crop and Trade Associations
Farmer wannabes can also get information from local agricultural organizations, like the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers, who meet monthly for informative presentations and networking. HTFG and other specific agricultural trade organizations host annual conferences with educational speakers, breakout sessions and farm tours.
In addition to growing food, some farmers are interested in getting into the production of value-added products. The UH Hilo College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) periodically offers a master food preserver certificate program to train students in developing jams and jellies, canning, pickling and fermenting, drying, freezing and the art of charcuterie. Find info at http://bit.ly/1TZn1BS.
Also available through CCECS in the past or coming up in the future are non-credit courses in agriculture and food preservation. Offerings have or will include Plant Propagation, Pruning, Agroforestry for Hawai‘i’s Farm & Ranches, Beekeeping and Ecological Farm Design. For the current schedule of classes, visit http://hilo.hawaii.edu/academics/ccecs/registration/index.php.