HDOA News Release: Whitmore Project Produces Record HarvestPosted on Apr 16, 2019 in Latest News
Local farmer produces more than a million pounds of head cabbage for Hawaii’s markets
HONOLULU – The Whitmore Project has produced another record harvest on the former Galbraith lands, located between Central Oahu and the North Shore.
Three years ago, Larry Jefts, owner of Kelena Farms, was the first farmer to successfully grow watermelons and red bell peppers on lands that lain fallow since 2004, when Del Monte ceased pineapple production. This year, he is producing cabbage with extraordinary yields.
“The last crop of head cabbage was a dream harvest that I have not experienced in my years as a farmer,” said Jefts. “We averaged 192,500 to 275,000 pounds a week for the February and March harvests.”
Jefts estimates that the farm produced more than a million pounds of head cabbage, which is 1½ times larger than the average yield in California. Harvested crops directly went to retail markets and food service operations across Oahu.
“Developing fallow agriculture lands into high-production farming operations is a significant step in raising our food security,” said Gov. David Ige. “We look forward to continued success in agricultural production on the former Galbraith lands.”
The Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC), the state agency dedicated to assisting the development of agricultural enterprises, manages these lands and the infrastructure that supports the farming activities. “We are committed to supporting Hawaii’s agriculture industry,” said James Nakatani, executive director of the ADC. “Whether it is by providing long-term leases or irrigation, this is a true partnership between the state and farmers.”
Since the original purchase of the former Galbraith Estate, the state has invested millions to purchase available agricultural lands. These parcels are fallow and require preparation before they are ready for farming. However, harvests of watermelons, bell peppers, and head cabbage show that diversified agriculture can thrive on former pineapple lands.
“This is the reason the State embarked on the Whitmore Project. The land acquisitions were to ensure availability and access to agriculture lands for Hawaii’s farmers,” said State Senator Donovan Dela Cruz. “We really hope more farmers scale production and increase local food production.”
Over the next few months, Jefts plans to plant 150 acres of tomatoes and 80 acres of watermelon on the former Galbraith lands. These crops will again be sold to Hawaii markets and consumed by Hawaii residents.
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Attachments: 3 images of Kelena Farms
Janelle Saneishi, Public Information Officer
Hawaii Department of Agriculture