Recently I’ve been in touchÂ withÂ a Kauai farmerÂ who’s renting and would like to purchase his own acreage to cultivate. A common conundrum – Kauai land is currently too expensive for him, but does he really want to uproot his family and relocate to Hawaii Island, where acreage is substantially more affordable?
Which got us to thinking about leasing farmland.Â To encapsulate: a large percentage of privately-held land on Kauai is in the hands of several large landowners – Grove Farm, Alexander & Baldwin, Gay & Robinson, etc…Â Since the demise of sugar, much of these lands have been sitting fallow, save for some cattle ranching.
ManyÂ on Kauai, however, are starting to think about food security.Â It doesn’t make sense for an island with so much fertile land and water to still be importing so much of its food, but it also doesn’tÂ pay – yet – to do large-scale agriculture on these lands.
So why not lease portions of this land to small farmers?Â It could be a win-win-win situation: the land-owners avoid selling off their land during a down market, but are able to generate cash-flow; farmers are able to ply their livelihood without mortgaging their future; the people of Kauai are blessed with more local food. (Indeed, the area around Honoka’a on Hawaii Island is a model for land use of this sort.)
It’s a nice fantasy, but in actuality this scenario on Kauai is still in its infancy – for whatever reason, there’s just not much leased land available – yet.Â Grove Farm has some pieces adjacent to the Isenberg Tract in Lihue that are currently leased to Pioneer Seed – there is a waiting list.Â The State of HawaiiÂ is offeringÂ a couple of pieces in Hanapepe with Â 35 year leases.
There isÂ good newsÂ on the horizon, however: within the next few years, Grove FarmÂ has plans to open the Mahaâ€™ulepu Agricultural Valley, 800 acres of leased land for diversified ag mauka of Poipu (contact me if you’d like an application).
And the prospect of a Farmworker Housing Bill, depending on the form it eventually takes, could impactÂ the situation as well – I’ll be blogging about this soon.
I’d love to hear if someone reading this post knows of any otherÂ ag land to lease on Kauai.