A dynamic new partnership by The Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership and the O‘ahu Resource Conservation & Development Council

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October 17, 2018

Darlene Dela Cruz Marketing & Communications Coordinator ddelacruz@ywcaoahu.org

 Helping women farmers flourish:
A dynamic new partnership by The Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership and the O‘ahu Resource Conservation & Development Council


Honolulu, HI – Three “Women Farmers Workshops” produced this month by the O‘ahu Resource Conservation & Development Council (Oʻahu RC&D) are planting the seeds for local women farmers to achieve their goals in the ever-growing field of agri-business.

The Women Farmers Workshops are the first fruits borne from a budding partnership between Oʻahu RC&D and The Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership (MCBL) at YWCA O‘ahu. The partnership aims to provide the best of both organizations’ expertise in the areas of agriculture and business to support women farmers interested in entrepreneurship.

 “More and more women are taking lead roles in agricultural production and management decisions” reported Jean Brokish, executive director of Oʻahu RC&D. “I believe that women farmers and ranchers are a key component to increasing food production and building healthy communities and we hope to build a network that supports our women farmers.”  

The inaugural Women Farmers Workshop was held on O‘ahu on Oct. 12 at Kahuku Farms. A second workshop was hosted by Big Island Bees on Hawai‘i Island on Oct. 16. Ali‘i Kula Lavender Farm on Maui is the site of the third workshop scheduled on Oct. 19, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

 Oʻahu RC&D utilizes farmer-to-farming learning and the recently held workshops provided opportunities to go behind the scenes of some well-known farms that are managed by women.  The workshops featured real-life experiences of Kylie Matsuda-Lum of Kahuku Farms (Oʻahu), Whendi Grad of Big Island Bees (Hawaii Island) and Sarah Adams of Aliʻi Kula Lavender (Maui).  

 MCBL and O‘ahu RC&D are developing future projects, events and other ways to reach out to local women farmers. The workshops are launching pads to broadening awareness about the challenges and needs that women farmers face in agri-business.

MCBL, as the only Women’s Business Center in Hawai‘i, is a trusted local resource for business counseling, business planning and expansion, access to capital and leadership development. O‘ahu RC&D is available to aid farmers in areas such as agritourism, value-added enterprise and networking in the farming community.

 The impact of women-owned businesses was recently underscored by Governor David Ige, who signed a proclamation declaring October as “Women in Small Business Month” in Hawai‘i.

 According to the proclamation, there are an estimated 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. The number of women-owned businesses increased by 114 percent between 1997 and 2017, and now account for 39 percent of all U.S. firms. These businesses employ nearly 9 million people.

 The most recently available (2012) agriculture census data for Hawaii indicates that women comprise more than 35% of the total number of Hawaii farm operators; and women are the principal operator on more than 1/4 of Hawaii’s farms.  The majority of women-run farms are less than 9 acres in size, but together women farmers manage 130,954 acres and generate $45 million in revenue.