Cattle have been grazing the Kapulena lands since the beginning of 2012 in an effort to clear thick vegetation off the first increment of the fallow sugar cane lands. Once the lands are grazed down, they will be made available for more intensive farming projects proposed by the community.
“Kapulena is an opportunity for the hard-working farmers and ranchers of H?m?kua to work the land,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “It will also allow the seeds of opportunity to be sown for subsequent generations who wish to make their living by cultivating the rich lands of North Hawai‘i.”
While the grazing project will clear vegetation growing on the property for the initial group of farmers, the county has also entertained a number of offers from companies that wish to make use of ironwood trees which have taken over a majority of the property. Proposed uses for the ironwood include everything from flooring to fuel cells to biomass.
Other uses of the Kapulena lands could range from community gardens to larger-scale ranching and commercial production of crops to educational programs that will encourage youth to enter agricultural fields, the mayor said.
The Kapulena Agriculture Park is being operated by the Hamakua Farm Bureau on a portion of the County-owned Kapulena lands just above the Hamakua ditch between Honoka‘a and Waipi‘o Valley. Last year, the county cleared old cane haul roads, installed fencing, and installed heavy gates for security to support grazing on this portion of the Kapulena lands.
The commitment of 1,739 acres in Hamakua represents a major increase in the available opportunities for farming on the Island of Hawai‘i. The state operates agricultural parks in Pahoa, Hamakua, Pana‘ewa and Keahole, but the 1,739 acres at Kapulena amounts to more land for farming than all of those existing state-run agricultural parks on the island combined.
In addition to the County of Hawai‘i and the Hamakua Farm Bureau, participants in the Kapulena lands include University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The blessing will be held July 27, 10 a.m. at the entrance to the park on the mauka side of Honoka‘a-Waipi‘o Road, about five miles outside of Honoka‘a between Honoka‘a and Waipi‘o Valley.