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$5,000 grant program for small-scale farmers accepting applications

A community garden on Oʻahu.
Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation
FILE - A community garden on Oʻahu.

Home farming just got more exciting. The state Department of Agriculture has $3 million in federal grants to help small-scale gardeners and livestock operators grow local.

It’s the second year the Micro-Grants for Food Security Program is being offered to Hawaiʻi residents, with a maximum award of $5,000. It aims to help produce food in areas that are food insecure.

Last year, a total of 177 grants were awarded statewide. But unlike last year, nonprofits are not eligible to apply — only individuals. Funding comes from the federal 2018 Farm Bill.

“We learned a lot from the first year.  We were very fortunate the U.S. Department of Agriculture listened to us and in many cases approved the changes that made the program more user-friendly," said Sharon Hurd with the state Department of Agriculture.

"One of the bigger changes that we made was now you have an application. The application form is in lieu of a proposal, which is more difficult to write. Our thinking was we're going to post this application early so you can read through it. Send us your questions, and then we can address your questions," Hurd told The Conversation.

Applications are due by noon on Sept. 19. Rules, applications and a recorded Zoom webinar about the grants are available at hdoa.hawaii.gov.

The grants can be used to buy tools, equipment, seeds, and canning equipment, as well as to purchase livestock. To be eligible, individuals must be Hawaiʻi residents aged 18 or over, and the head of the household.

This interview aired on The Conversationon Aug. 24, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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