Hoʻōla Farms has received a 3-year, $750,000 grant to fund their ‘Bridging the Gap: Growing Veterans’ pilot program.
[HILO, HAWAII, October 28, 2021] — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced this week an investment of over $50 million to 140 organizations and institutions around the country that teach and train beginning farmers and ranchers.
Among the favored recipients is Hilo’s own Hoʻōla Veteran Services—the nonprofit home of Hoʻōla Farms—which has been awarded a 3-year, $750,000 grant to support their ‘Bridging the Gap: Growing Veterans’ pilot program.
The program is designed to support military veteran beginning farmers, ranchers, and their families on Hawaiʻi Island by providing exposure, skill-based training, and a professional network aimed to help them succeed in agricultural careers. Veterans, their families and civilians can participate in a variety of one-day ‘Intro to Grow’ workshops, or they may enroll in ‘Groundwork to Grow,’ a more comprehensive four-week program that focuses on specific agriculture topics relevant to the Pacific Region. Experts and guest speakers from agencies such as the College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR), UH-Hilo, USDA, and the U.S. Forest Service will provide additional resources to support participants’ goals.
“Over the last few years weʻve recognized that one of the barriers to entry for veterans and their families into the agriculture sector is lack of access to exposure-based, hands-on experiences,” said Emily Emmons, Executive Director of Hoʻōla Farms. “This new funding will help us increase the number of veterans seeking and securing educational, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities in the food and agriculture sector on Hawaiʻi Island. We’re excited and grateful to have this opportunity to expand and strengthen the network of veterans working in agriculture here.”
Hoʻōla Farms will soon be offering scholarships to participate in the pilot program. Those who are interested or who would like additional information can visit www.hoolafarms.org or call (808) 494-2613.