Do you remember our Father's Day video of Rusty Obra, our late company founder? We talked about his commitment to the Ka'u community, and how he still guides us today.
One of the ways we carry forth Rusty’s philosophy is lending our farm to scientific research. And we love our latest project: a study of different ground covers to learn which ones best improve soil nutrients and prevent soil erosion — thereby making coffee farms more resilient amidst climate change.
Five Ka'u farms, all in different microclimates, are taking part in the study. Here’s John Ah San, one of the farmers, showing us a gorgeous test plot of perennial peanut in his field. Our project’s lead scientist (in the blue shirt) is Melanie Willich from The Kohala Center:
As part of the project, we're installing five weather stations at these farms, and making the data available to the public. So anyone who needs weather data -- such as other farmers, policy makers and meteorologists -- can use it, too!
Here’s the best part: We’ll take all of this information and turn it into educational materials for coffee farmers around the state. One of our goals is to have at least 10 additional coffee farmers add ground cover to their fields as a result of this study. We'll tell them where to buy the seeds, suggest one (or more) ground covers based on their individual microclimates, and help them troubleshoot problems.
Many thanks to the USDA and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), for providing grant funding and administration for the weather stations, cover-crop seeds, technical assistance from The Kohala Center and educational materials. When the seeds and weather stations arrive, we'll show them to you. In case you haven’t guessed, this is the stuff of nerdy farmers’ dreams...