Hawai’i-Puna Chapter


Chapter Notes: The Puna Chapter is on Hawai'i Island.

Meeting Schedule: Quarterly Saturday Meeting/Event

Agenda is Varied: please check the calendar on the HFUU website or your email for updates.

Meeting Location: Hawaiian Sanctuary – Laka Lounge

  • 13-3194 Pahoa Kalapana Rd (Highway 130), Pahoa, HI 96778
    Hawaii Island (Puna District)
  • Only about 1 Mile South of Pahoa Town.
  • Turn into the driveway at Mile Marker 12!

Puna Farmers and Land Description

According to the 2012 Hawaii State Agricultural Baseline Study, Puna supports the tropical fruit tree market in the retailing of fruit trees to individual landowners who plant small stands of fruit trees for home and neighborhood use. This decentralized form of farming rarely shows up on any tally of food production and is a growing segment of the Island’s local food supply. Small farmers on W.H. Shipman lands, in the Volcano area, and scattered elsewhere throughout the district, produce dry land taro, potatoes, pineapples, tomatoes, strawberries, and an assortment of vegetables that are primarily sold to the local market through retailers and farmers markets. There is also a growing amount of small backyard gardening and subsistence agriculture done in the vast agricultural subdivisions where residents have ample land to contribute to their own food self-sufficiency.

A private venture is growing jatropha on 300 acres near Kea‘au. The jatropha bean is high in oil content and can be processed into a biofuel. If yields are sufficient and harvesting practices can be perfected, this new crop could be expanded to aid in the State’s drive towards energy self-sufficiency. There are also several aqua cultural ventures in the district, including one that produces oyster fry for export to commercial producers around the country.

Farms in Upper Puna, from Mountain View to Volcano are scattered broadly. There is a cluster of small farms at the back of Wright Road in Volcano Village that has a long history of truck farm and flower production. The number of active farms in the area has fallen in recent years but there are several small farms producing red potatoes and other truck crops that are not grown elsewhere on the island. Proximity to the Kilauea Volcano and its volcanic emissions has had a negative impact on some crops in recent years but there is significant potential in this upper elevation micro-climate to produce food varieties that don’t grow well elsewhere.

Underlying most of Puna’s agriculture is a land settlement pattern that was shaped by the subdivision of both public and private lands into some 40,000 parcels from ½ to 50 acres in size. Although this rather unplanned parcelization presents challenges for modern land use and infrastructure development in the region, it also offers a rich opportunity for small landowners to participate in farm activities and to flourish or fail without seriously impacting the vitality of the diversified production of the region as a whole.

The large, sub-standard subdivisions, including Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaiian Acres, Fern Forest and others, are of sufficient size to support small agricultural endeavors both for subsistence and small scale commercial farm activity. There is no way to be certain that all of the properties highlighted in this figure are currently making a meaningful contribution of the Island’s food self-sufficiency, although the potential for small-lot, decentralized agricultural productivity is apparent.

Hawai'i-Puna Chapter Leadership

President, Steve Lund, is also the owner and founder of Hawaiian Sanctuary, an eco-educational retreat and healing center. For the last decade, the Hawaiian Sanctuary family has been committed to rebuilding the soil and natural habitats to welcome the birds and healthy, abundant foods. Since 2012, Hawaiian Sanctuary has held non-profit 501(c)(3) status and has offered free and low-fee classes to the community through a variety of health and wellness programs, including Yoga and Hula, our current Plant Aloha sustainable farming classes. These classes provide the interns and the larger community with a hands-on curriculum promoting the preservation and propagation of staple food crops and native Hawaiian plants species using techniques such as Permaculture and Korean Natural Farming. The Sanctuary is also a cacao farm from which Steve makes bean-to-bar chocolates. He holds two certifications in permaculture, and two in natural farming (one with Master Cho and one with Kim ChongSuk Chang). He also received a natural farming certification from JADAM (Jayonul Damun Saramdul). He has graciously offered Hawaiian Sanctuary as a venue for the Puna Chapter’s Members Meetings.

Vice President, Wade Bauer has taught permaculture classes and internships in Hawaii for over 10 years. Currently he is the main lecturer for the county grant funded Plant Aloha Sustainable Farming classes, teaching a 24 part series on how to grow a complete diet in Hawaii. Wade has a bachelors degree in Environmental Biology from Michigan State University. Wade's company, Malama Aina Permaculture, in Kapoho Hawaii provides edible landscaping consultation, design services, education, and plants. Wade is a member of Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers, a Volunteer Arborist & Consultant with The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, and volunteer at the school garden at Kua O Ka La Public Charter School. Wade's main focus within the HFUU Puna Chapter is to foster cooperation within the community, to increase and enhance educational opportunities for local smallholder farmers and homesteaders, and to promote local food hubs.

Secretary, Michele Denise David, recently completed her Masters degree in Global Leadership & Sustainable Development from Hawaii Pacific University, writing her thesis on the Impediments to Sustainable Living in Ecovillages in Hawaii. She currently works for Hawaiian Sanctuary as a grant writer and agricultural programs coordinator. She has been a board member for several environmental and arts organizations, including local Puna non-profits such as the HSCA (Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance) and HVC (Hawaii's Volcano Circus -aka SPACE). For over 20 years, she has been an advocate for local organic food systems. She loves to eat and share healthy local food with her family and friends. Michele is most interested in bringing small farmers and their advocates together to further develop the 5-point-strategy of the HFUU, especially in creating food hubs, affordable housing land trusts, and farmer training programs so that her teen son can learn to be a sustainable farmer.

Board Director, Galen Alpine, is an advocate for creating sustainable life solutions. Choosing a path directed towards nature and simple living, the big island has been a perfect place to cultivate paradise. Founder of Pi'ilani community in Kapoho, he is constantly putting his life lessons into action and ever expanding upon systems for alternative living. A natural builder by trade, passionate planter of all growing things, and compassionate towards all forms of life, he is always looking for ways to expand yet unite the potential in all things.

Treasurer, Tyler Russell, is blessed to be a member of Pi'ilani Community in Kapoho, where he and the Farmily are seeking to malama ka aina and embody permaculture principles. Before the calling to live sustainably delivered him to HI, Tyler was a practicing CPA in PA and MD, where he served as an adviser for small to medium sized companies in a wide variety of industries. His experience includes assisting businesses, business owners, and non-profit organizations with tax and financial accounting functions. He is honored to be a member of Hawaii Farmer's Union United and be a part of its work towards a sustainable Hawaii.

Communications Chair, Karen Obrien, has a background is as a small business owner, managing a design company for 25 years. Her passion has always been communication, anywhere from organizing meetings, to one day events, to weekend workshops. Bringing communities together with open honest ways of communicating is her passion. Seeing Puna unite in an economically sustainable environment that works for all is the reason she has joined HFUU, to help spread the word and give voice to Farmers and all surrounding ohana.