By Glenn Hontz on 5 February 2012 for Island Breath -
Image above: Taro gowing in flooded fields at KCC Puhi Campus. Photo by Juan Wilson.
If you really want to have the food you like, in the quantity you like, when you like it, and at the price you like….. there is one perfect solution: grow your own. If that seems like an flippant answer, then consider these facts:
1) Food prices have increased dramatically in recent months and are expected to continue increasing 2) Food shortages are occurring in many regions of the planet and experts indicate that the world population has already exceeded the ability of current food production systems to feed everyone. 3) Kauai imports 85% of its foodThese are gloomy facts, but they are also a wake-up call to the residents of Kauai as an isolated island in the Pacific ocean. Fortunately, the growing conditions for food on Kauai are excellent and the island has several growing seasons per year. Gardening and farming methods have been developed that are well-suited to this semi-tropical environment and these methods can produce an abundance of healthy, nutritious food of a quality that is often better than many of the imported varieties. Locally grown food is also becoming more cost effective, especially if you consider the expense of shipping along with the negative impact on human health produced by some of the packaged food. In recognition of these conditions, it makes good sense to start growing your own food. Courses at Kauai Community College are designed to teach you how.
The Sustainable Gardening and Farming course at KCC provides the basic knowledge and skills you need for a successful start at gaining food independence. It will be offered starting March 3 and ends on May 12. It meets on Saturdays from 1:00 till 6:00 pm. The tuition is $275, and financial assistance is available to qualified candidates.
This course provides a comprehensive program for those intending to start a home garden, a neighborhood community garden or a small farm. It offers classroom instruction in the principles of organic and permaculture systems, combined with the with practical field experiences at gardens on the College campus and at farms around the island The training includes how to assess the suitability of your proposed garden or farm site and how to improve any of its negative conditions, how to design the layout of your site for optimal production, the basics of irrigation, soil building, seed germination, weed management, pest and disease control, and seed saving as a means to progressively improve production of subsequent crops.
The training resources for this course have been drawn from the University of Hawaii, College of Tropical Agriculture, the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, and other leading research organizations sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture that specialize in research and development of organic farming methods. Individual instruction and personal follow-up assistance is provided to graduates to improve their successful growth and development. Assistance is also provided in building relationships that can result in team work to create needed labor support and on-going technical assistance as graduates go forth in developing gardens and farms.
The training is conducted by experienced farmers and consultants from local agricultural enterprises. The two principal instructors, Kenneth Lindsey and John Parziale, have a common background that includes teaching, managing their own farms and consulting with other gardening and farming enterprises on Kauai. Lindsey is a graduate of Southern Illinois University where he majored in plant biology and graduated at the top of his class. He was later awarded a highly competitive internship in botany fieldwork in Alaska that further enriched his knowledge and practical experience in biology.
After moving to Kauai he completed additional studies at Kauai Community College in farming and business while developing his own organic farming businesses. He joined the instructional team at the College three years ago and has continued developing farming enterprises that have become highly cost effective and efficient food production facilities. He is one of the co-founders of the Village Green LLC and manages farm service teams that assist other local gardens and farms to increase their crop production. Parziale is a graduate of Boston University where he earned his BS and MS degrees.
He has also completed post-graduate studies in permaculture design, soil science, microbiology, and natural farming. These are skills that he has applied in the development of the Center for Regenerative Agriculture, where he served as director for five years, and previously as the manager of two organic farms for another five years, all of these on Kauai. He directed the Soil Food Web Laboratory in Kilauea where he managed soil testing research and conducted outreach projects to train staff and volunteers.
A self-proclaimed student of nature, John integrates agricultural models with natural patterns and ecosystem design. He has taught at Kauai Community College for the past two years in the Food Industry Career Pathways Program. The Sustainable Gardening and Farming course taught by Lindsey, and Parziale is one of the offerings in the Food Industry Career Pathways Program, directed by Dr. Glenn Hontz, and offered through OCET, the Office of Continuing Education and Training, at Kauai Community College. This program is training a new generation of farmers who are helping to achieve the goal of food self-sufficiency for the island.
To learn more about the course, contact Kenneth Lindsey at 346-7090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org; or John Parzial at 651-6930 or email <email@example.com>. To register for the course, call OCET at 245-8318.
Inquiries concerning tuition support should be made to Dr. Hontz at 246-4859 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications for tuition support must be received by February 20.