Learn to grow food

SUBHEAD: The challenge for Kauai is to move into high gear with our own food production efforts. Image above: Backyard gardening in Hanapepe Valley includes lemon grass, potted greens, dryland taro. Photo by Juan Wilson. By Glenn Hontz on 20 February 2010 in Garden Island News - (http://thegardenisland.com/business/local/article_b1487690-1eb9-11df-bebd-001cc4c002e0.html)

As food self-sufficiency for Kaua‘i is rapidly moving to top of the island’s priority list, it is important to recognize that this need can be effectively accomplished by providing training and technical support to a new breed of farmers and gardeners.

The current number of farmers on Kaua‘i is simply insufficient to produce the quantity of food we need to feed ourselves, even at a minimal level. We depend on imported food for 90 percent of our daily supply. Fortunately, the former attitude of complacency that we have an endless supply of food products to our island is being replaced by a new awareness that we are actually vulnerable regarding the future supply of imported food.

Our island’s food supply is being seriously challenged as shortages occur due to prolonged drought conditions in key farming regions, along with overly intensive farming practices and the depletion of vast tracts of once productive acreage. The simple fact is that the food production capability of our planet is unable to keep up with the world’s population growth.

The challenge for Kaua‘i is to move into high gear with our own food production efforts. This will call for several initiatives including: improved training programs for farmers and home gardeners, systems to restore the soil at several local farm and garden sites, and the diversification of our major food crops to not only provide fruits, vegetables and herbs, but also to include easy-to-produce protein sources such as fish and chickens.

In an effort to address this challenge, a team of local farmers, teachers and recent graduates of the farm and garden training programs at Kaua‘i Community College are seeking to prepare a new breed of farmers and home gardeners. The team has adopted the name of “Food Sustainability Solutions Kaua‘i” and is ready to launch an all new training program on March 4 at KCC. The program is an extension of the popular Growing Food Seminar Series and is entitled “Organic Gardening and Farming.”

The 15-session program will be conducted on Thursdays from 1 to 6 p.m. and will end on June 17 with a certificate awarded to each graduate.

Classroom locations and field training sites will be announced.

The series will focus on the principles and practices of organic gardening and farming. The program will provide the basic skills and knowledge needed for a successful start in small scale food production at home sites and community gardens. The training will include a combination of practical field experience and classroom instruction.

Graduates of the program will be assisted to engage in productive gardening and farming programs of their choice either individually or as a member of a cooperative team. They will also receive start-up assistance and on-going training plus the technical assistance needed to insure their successful progression into profitable agricultural enterprises. Opportunities will be provided for their participation in food marketing programs involving CSA (community supported agriculture) or weekly farmers markets.

The major goal of the program is to increase Kaua‘i’s level of food self-sufficiency with sustainable methods of gardening and farming.”

The basic reference materials used in the program are primarily web-based and available to students at no cost. Class sessions will be augmented with handouts, power point presentations and discussions between students and instructors. A major emphasis will be given to practical field experiences at productive garden and farm sites.

The topics will include: Site Selection and Assessment, Site Planning & Preparation, Tools, Supplies & Equipment, Soil Testing, Building & Management, Irrigation, Germination, Propagation & Transplanting, Pest & Disease Management, Weed Management, Scheduling Planting & Harvesting Planning, and Seed Saving for Future Crop Production.

The registration fee is $180. To register call 245-8318. Tuition assistance is available.


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