About Small Kine Farm
Hawaii is a state whose agriculture is defined by its small and mid-sized farms. Those farms are the backbone of Hawaii’s agriculture, as the “diversified agriculture” specialty crops in which they specialize (including seed crops, coffee, macadamia nuts, fruits, flowers, and nursery products) increased at an annual rate of 3.8% between 1992 and 2000 and represented almost 70% of Hawaii’s agriculture in 2000. Most farms in Hawaii qualify as “small farms” in the truest sense, with more than 60% consisting of 1-9 acres, and 88% being <50 acres.
These farms are facing serious and increasing challenges. Fuel and operating costs are skyrocketing, and land is at a premium. About 70% of the state’s limited land area is controlled by government entities or a group of seven private landowners. Problems with tax laws, leasing, water, labor, and transportation all threaten the sustainability of the small and mid-size farm operations. Increasing urbanization and growing pressure from developers to convert these family farms into resorts and subdivisions eliminates farms and raises the living costs even higher for those remaining on their farms. The problems that many small and mid-sized farmers face across the nation are clearly magnified in Hawaii. Moreover, Hawaii’s declining agricultural production results in the need for the state to import the vast majority of its food, and transportation costs are making that process increasingly expensive.
Given this situation, it is clear that the remaining small and mid-sized farms in Hawaii must focus on producing very high-value crops that require the smallest possible amounts of land. Those crops should also cater to current trends in specialty foods—trends that focus on health and high quality. Those trends in Hawaii also include a focus on ethnic foods. One such crop that offers an excellent opportunity for Hawaii’s small farmers is mushrooms—essentially all of which are now imported at great cost.
OCR, Inc.—a company specializing in recycling and resource management—recognizes this new agricultural opportunity and fully understands the challenges facing small and mid-sized farms. Consequently, the overall goal of the multi-phase USDA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) project is to prototype, validate, and commercialize a wholesale mushroom substrate/casing/spawn production and distribution system that will benefit small Hawaiian farms by utilizing a unique local growth substrate and casing media that is ideal for mushroom cultivation—and specifically for high-value Agaricus mushrooms.
We believe this Agaricus mushroom cultivation project will provide small farms with an important income stream while diversifying their year-round crop base—regardless of what else they are producing. It will allow them to address a valuable high-demand local mushroom market with the freshest-possible products and will introduce and entirely new crop into Hawaii’s agricultural industry. It will also have a positive impact on the environment in Hawaii as a recycling activity. The success of OCR’s Small Kine Farm with this USDA project will serve as a model for additional innovative recycling projects nationwide, and should lead to other high-value agricultural applications for small and mid-sized farms.
Learning from nature. Mirroring ecosystems by promoting biodiversity, repurposing under-utilizing resources and growing organic produce to benefit our community.
Email Small Kine Farm at recycle (at) ocr2000 (dot) com