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New subsistence agriculture lots offer Hawaiian beneficiaries option to produce their own food

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Honomū Subsistence Agriculture Homestead Community near Akaka Falls on Hawaiʻi Island
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
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Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
Upon completion, the new Honomū Subsistence Agriculture Homestead Community near Akaka Falls on Hawaiʻi Island will include up to 375 lots for Native Hawaiian beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Home Lands program.

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands broke ground Friday on a new agricultural homestead community near Akaka Falls in Honomū on Hawaiʻi Island.

While much of DHHL’s past attention has focused on developing residential lots, these new agricultural lots aim to allow Native Hawaiian beneficiaries to become self-sufficient through farming.

The new Honomū project is among the expanded options the agency is exploring to give Native Hawaiian beneficiaries an opportunity to not only return to the land, but farm it as well.

When beneficiaries first apply for the Hawaiian Home Lands program, they get to sign-up to receive offers from two of the three homesteading options: residential, agricultural, or pastoral. On Hawaiʻi Island, the waitlist for an agricultural lot is now longer than its residential counterpart.

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Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
On all islands except Oʻahu, the demand for a Hawaiian Homes agricultural lot outweighs the demand for a residential lot - signaling a desire among Native Hawaiian beneficiaries to be offered land suitable for subsistence farming.

For decades, the department's agricultural lot offerings required beneficiaries to bring a product to market. This posed a challenge for beneficiaries who had no interest in running a business, but perhaps wanted to farm a small garden and raise a few chickens for eggs and goats for milk.

DHHL Chair William Ailā Jr. has said in the past that these lots will allow beneficiaries to cultivate their land while producing locally-grown food for themselves and their families.

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The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has 766 acres in Honomū that it plans to develop into a Subsistence Agriculture Homestead Community.

This first phase of the Honomū project will include 16 subsistence agriculture lots ranging from 1 to 3 acres, and will be offered to the first 500 applicants on the Hawaiʻi Island Agricultural Waitlist.

Upon full buildout, DHHL anticipates the Honomū Subsistence Agriculture Homestead Community will include up to 375 lots. The department broke ground on agricultural lots in Pana’ewa last year and is moving forward on agricultural offerings on Maui and Kaua’i.

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands honomu ground breaking
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
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Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands held a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, April 8, 2022, for the first phase of its Honomū Subsistence Agriculture Homestead Community in South Hilo on Hawaiʻi Island.

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