14 Graduate from HFUF-HFUU Farm Apprentice Mentoring (FAM) Program

Congratulations go out to the fourteen apprentices (see list below with their visions) in the Farm Apprentice Mentoring (FAM) Program who graduated from Phase 1 of HFUU’s farmer training program Thursday, June 29th,  at UH-Maui College.

Equipped with over 250 hours of course work and on farm demonstrations in regenerative agricultural practices,  FAM this year had 10 farm mentors, who along with course instructors helped to create a 10 module integrated farm experience that included:

  • Farm mapping, Hawaiian perspectives on land management
  • Whole systems and permaculture design
  • Soil health and fertilization including Korean Natural Farming
  • Weed management
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Food Safety
  • Harvest/Post Harvest
  • Introduction to crop and business planning

Eighty per cent of the apprentices earned Certificates of Professional Development from UH-Maui College’s Office Continuing Education and Training/Sustainable Living Institute of Maui (SLIM) Program.  The rest get a chance to make up missed classes and assessments.

Program Directors (Mother Hens): Georgia Pinsky and Phyllis Robinson

The centerpiece of our FAM program is that we are a cohort, a FAMily that supports each others farming visions, shares values, and can help each other when concepts need clarifying, applications seem daunting and nature serves up wind and hot sun.  The end of every module has reflection/integration sessions where our cohort discussed what they learned, what they would apply on their own farm and where their learning gaps still are.

The certificates were presented by Chancellor, Lui Hokoana and also the County Council sent members Don Guzman and Yuki Lei Sugimura to present certificates from the Council. Mayor Arakawa also presented coins with the County Seal to all of the apprentices.  It seems that many people want our next generation of farmers to succeed!!!

The FAM program is funded by the County of Maui through the Office of Economic Development, by Kamehameha Schools ‘Aina Engagement Program, by the Atherton Family Foundation and the Lahaina Sunrise Rotary Club. And through the tireless volunteer efforts of the Hawaii Farmers Union United and our (HFUF) Foundation.

9 members of this group have chosen to go on to Phase 2 where they will learn how to build a farming enterprise and even a marketing and business plan with David Fisher of Maui Venture.  Registration for David Fisher’s course,  Regenerative Business Development Webinar Series, begins Aug. 9th – Oct. 25th, 2017. Watch for Registration announcements in your newsletter.

The next FAM cohort application process will begin on October 2nd, 2017. Send an email of interest to Phyllis Robinson pfierrorob@aol.com and you will be sent an announcement.

This year’s cohort of Graduates and their farm visions:

Apprentice: Farm Vision

  • Rayden Kokona: KNF piggery operation inspired by mentors Bobby Pahia and Michel Duponte.
  • Alex Pinsky: Working with mentor Bobby Pahia to develop plans for Maui Coconut Forest on 20 acres in Waikapu.
  • Vicki Shortell: Production permaculture, value-added products (teas, turmeric) in Haiku. Creating a commercial kitchen for women farmer entrepreneurs
  • Andy Baltonado: Partnering with another apprentice and Mentor, James Simpliciano on a Moringa production business on Ku’ia land in Lahaina.
  • Terese Masters: Created non-profit CommonGround Collective to enable fleet farming on Maui, allowing small farmers to contribute to the local food economy.
  • Jared Burkett: Raising chickens for meat, production using permaculture and KNF.
  • Deneane Hamby: Growing cucumbers for her own line of pickles in her food truck and Hemp farming.
  • Max Powell: Partnering with Mentor John Dobovan at Kula Haven Farm with Trout and Watercress
  • Naone Morinaga-Kama: Commercial Mushrooms and bees in Makawao for value added products.
  • Ashley O’Colmain: Fresh cut flowers in Makawao.
  • Sara Mason: Orchards at Aloha Aina farm in Kula.
  • Jenn Atkinson: An herbs & medicinals cottage industry in Haiku.
  • Irene Fernandez: Building a farm for veterans recovering from PTSD
  • Georgia Pinsky: Building a home for the FAM program including a cooperative tool and equipment library and a nutrient cycling center

FAM participants in the “class room.”


  1. Vincent Mina on July 25, 2017 at 9:13 am

    What a refreshing body of work that has cumulated into this piece communicating to the community, whats possible when folks passion for growing food becomes directed toward making a living at farming, while working collaboratively in the process to actualize it becoming a reality.

  2. Simon Russell on July 25, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    I love this program, and am so grateful to the 14 graduates and Program Director Phyllis Robinson for engaging with our farming community in support of regenerative agriculture !

  3. Georgia pinsky on July 25, 2017 at 11:19 pm


  4. Phyllis Robinson on July 31, 2017 at 12:53 am

    The building of any program takes team work. We could not have had program success without the generous volunteer support we get from our HFUF and HFUU board members and staff. And of course the County supported FAM planning process which produced a 10 module curriculum now worthy, with a few modifications after our program evaluation is complete, to perhaps have its duplication in other parts of Maui County and from within our Oahu and neighbor island chapters. Would love to hear from them

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