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Big Island farm receives $750K grant to help veterans learn agriculture

Hoʻōla Farms on Hawaiʻi Island offers veterans instruction on how to be a farmer or rancher.
Andrew Richard Hara
Hoʻōla Farms on Hawaiʻi Island offers instruction for veterans on how to be a farmer or rancher.

Hoʻōla Farms on the Big Island has received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue their vocational training services for veterans.

The farm offers agriculture classes for veterans, their families, and civilians. The classes are taught by a wide variety of local agriculture experts.

Emily Emmons co-founded Hoʻōla Farms in 2015 with her husband, who was in the Army. A veteran himself, he wanted to help other former service members have a stable life.

Hoʻōla Farms has two different workshop opportunities.

One-day workshops called “Intro to Grow” provide basic information on a wide variety of techniques. The class also prepares future farmers for the longer class option, “Groundwork to Grow.”

The “Groundwork to Grow” program tackles the fundamentals of specific types of agriculture training. The focus of the class can range from orchard training, agroforestry, to even bee keeping.

Veterans can also take advantage of scholarships that allow them to take classes at Hoʻōla Farms for free. There is also an on-site social worker who provides mental health and wellness care.

Hoʻōla Farms has helped more than 300 participants since opening in 2015. Emmons plans to connect with 200 veterans over the next three years.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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