Sustainable watershed-friendly farming provides a strong foundation for an abundant future. The State of Hawaiʻi pushes initiatives for increased local agriculture production, while simultaneously promoting increased watershed protection. To some, this may seem counter-productive, but Oʻahu Resource Conservation and Development Council (Oʻahu RC&D), an agriculture-based non-profit, is strategically positioned to enhance both of these goals in an impactful way through the use of extensive community outreach and Best Management Practices (BMPs) on local farms. Sediment and nutrients are detrimental to aquatic and nearshore environments and often are the primary causes of watershed impairment. The Oʻahu RC&D team works one-on-one with farmers to develop conservation plans and implement practices that improve water quality by reducing total nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment runoff. With funding from the Hawaii Department of Health, Oʻahu RC&D collaborated with farmers in the Waiāhole and Kaʻalaea watersheds to implement a variety of BMPs.Oʻahu RC&D continues to work in these watersheds and has extended efforts to Maʻiliʻili, an agricultural hub in Waiʻanae. Oʻahu RC&D’s partnership with farmers illustrates potential for a strong agricultural foundation that supports watershed health and environmental stewardship. Project methods and results demonstrate that community-based strategies to support farmers are applicable to watersheds across the State, and enhances local agriculture for generations to come.
Farms located in the project areas were invited to submit applications for BMP cost-share and Sub-awards were developed with select farms and conservation practices that best enhance watershed restoration and water quality input. Projects were analyzed using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, Version 2 (RUSLE2), a computer model that contains process-based science to predict erosion by rainfall and runoff. RUSLE2 and additional monitoring to record change in landscape, captured the productivity of this watershed management grant.
Oʻahu RC&D launched watershed projects in Kaʻalaea & Waiāhole and Maʻiliʻili watersheds. Over $150,000 in cost-share grants were made available to local producers to support wise stewardship of natural resources.
Kaʻalaea & Waiāhole Cost-Share Projects: completed
Ma'ili'ili Cost-Share Projects: in progress
Information was shared and connections within the agricultural community and the general public were fostered through on-farm workshops, conferences and community events. 11 workshops engaged over 150 participants on topics resulting in agricultural best management practices.
A conservation plan is a strategic plan that assists farmers and land managers to identify priority goals, map their properties, and select best management practices to improve land stewardship. The resulting conservation plan improves stewardship of natural resources and supports long-term production and profitability.
Conservation plans are flexible, working blueprints. They can be adapted or revised to meet evolving land management goals or address the changing needs of a farm.
Waiāhole Project Accomplishments:
Collaboration and assistance to farmers in the Ka'alaea and Waiāhole watersheds led O'ahu RC&D to continue work in the area for a second round of funding. The leadership and perseverance of the first funded farmers played a role in the start up of awarded farmers in the Ma'ili'ili Watershed in Wai'anae. Farmers awarded and apart of this grant project are stewards of the land and inspire new and old farmers in Hawai'i on what it means for farm sustainably. Through the funding and installation of Best Management Practices, O'ahu RC&D plays a role in the improvement and care for our marine and water resources, preserving them for generations to come through sustainable agriculture and farm collaborations.