KS blesses East HI's first-ever agricultural post-harvest facility to help area farmers

Apr. 26, 2018

Contributed by Crystal Kua

KS East Hawai‘i staffers and others held a blessing to cap the construction of an agricultural post-harvest processing facility on KS land just outside of Downtown Hilo. The facility will benefit farmers wanting a clean, convenient and modern space to prepare crops for sale at market. The facility is believed to be the first of its kind in East Hawai‘i.

The project’s goal was to develop a food safety certifiable post-harvest facility for small-scale commercial production. The facility will serve as a pilot to possibly replicate in other priority agriculture areas.  It will be used by Kamehameha Schools tenant farmers to wash and pack produce in preparation for market sale and/or for offsite processing.

 “The post-harvest facility will benefit farmers by providing a conveniently located, purpose-built facility near their farm operations. This will reduce transport costs and improve the efficiency of produce washing practices,” said Land Asset Manager Leanne Okamoto.

The aim is to help farmers meet federal food safety regulations and get more local production of value-added products while also working with farmers to overcome hardships in processing agricultural commodities into retail consumable products that are within regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food & Drug Administration.

 “The largest asset to farmers in Hawai’i is being able to add value to their agricultural commodity by having a facility where they can take goods from their farm and have them ready for retail shelves upon leaving the facility,” Okamoto said. “This will not only bring more value to the individual farmers but also to the local community by offering the consumers local products in the grocery stores that are up to the standards of the imported competitive products.”

The 1,000 square-foot facility includes a commercial kitchen, washing station and restrooms.

“Completion of the post-harvest wash station and commercial kitchen for KS farmers in the East Hawai‘i Region will enhance the marketability of KS farmers’ crops and products,” said East Hawai‘i Regional Director Kilohana Hirano. “With the completion of this facility, we hold true to our values that ‘āina is a resource for learning, community well-being, and Native Hawaiian identity, making KS’ East Hawai‘i lands inherently positioned for a transformative impact for our lāhui.”

The post-harvest facility will benefit soil and water resources by using a controlled and monitored water source. The facility also includes a wash water retention basin. Soils captured in the retention basin may be used to replenish soils on the farm lots.