About the Hawai‘i State Public Seed Initiative

The Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative (HPSI), a program of The Kohala Center made possible with support from Ceres Trust, is designed to help our state’s farmers and gardeners select, grow, harvest, store, and improve seed varieties that will thrive in Hawai‘i.

HPSI held “Seed Production Basics for Farmers and Gardeners” workshops on Kaua‘i in 2011, and on O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i, and Hawai‘i Island in 2012. 180 enthusiastic gardeners, farmers, and students from throughout the state attended these workshops.

The two-day workshops were designed to impart practical working knowledge of seed growing, botany and biology, plant selection, seed harvesting, cleaning, and saving. Each workshop included hands-on fieldwork, with a focus on growing lettuce and tomato to seed, as well as taro propagation. Participants practiced harvesting, selecting, cleaning, and storing fresh seed. Strategies were discussed to account for differences in elevation, weather patterns, and rainfall. Participants developed ideas for creating seed networks in their local areas.

Presenters included representatives from CTAHR Extension Services, Kaua‘i’s Regenerations Botanical Garden, and individuals on each island with expertise in seed saving. The Kohala Center and the Ceres Trust provided valuable support to make these workshops possible.

In 2013, HPSI will offer an advanced three-day “Train the Trainers” workshop. This course will be designed to help selected individuals from each island broaden their seed production skills and continue to advance this work in their respective locales. We will focus on seed-saving skills, crop selection, on-farm breeding programs, and developing working models for seed networks on each island.

The first two-day seed workshop was held on Kaua‘i in November, 2011. For more information and details on all the island workshops, click here.

Read more about the Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative in The Kohala Center's September/October 2011 Leaflet.

On April 16-19, 2010, a group of 110 farmers and gardeners assembled from across the state for the "Hua Ka Hua - Restore Our Seed" Public Seed Symposium, at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort in Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i. The Kohala Center, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and Hilo, and the Organic Seed Alliance and its university partners collaborated to create and host this symposium—the first of its kind in the state of Hawai‘i.

This landmark event renewed relationships between university researchers and professors, experts from the mainland, and farming and gardening communities across the state. Further, the fundamental relationship between farmers and gardeners and on-farm seed production was rekindled. As we seek new paths toward a more food self-reliant future, we recognize the importance of seed for home production, for market production, as a value added niche crop, and as a critical part of the agricultural cycle of production.

A Statewide Seed Working Group has emerged, and this Web site will serve as the "home base" for statewide communication and as a source of knowledge for growing, selecting, drying, and saving high-quality open pollinated seed.

Some of the resources housed at this Web site include:

You will also find e-mail addresses to contact island working groups on the "Contact Us" page.

Finding new and innovative ways to work together across vast areas of the mid-Pacific will bring us closer to the development of locally based models of food self-reliance.

The complete Seed Symposium Web site can be found at www.kohalacenter.org/seedsymposium/about.html. Information on this site includes a list of our Symposium Partners, the Seed Symposium Program, and all Speaker Bios.