FIND A FARM, FIND A MENTOR
Support, shop, and connect with women-owned/operated farms, ranches, and agribusinesses across the islands now.
A sneak preview into some of the products generated from women featured in our directory.
The Hawaii Women Farmers Network (WFN) Directory
Supporting and empowering women owned/operated farms and agri-businesses is an important step in the growth of our local agriculture industry. The Hawaii Women Farmers Network (WFN), with generous support from the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture (HDOA), is excited to introduce our Directory, which allows users to access, support and connect with female agriculture producers, makers, entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities. To be included in this Directory, the farm/agri-business needs to be owned by a woman/women (50% or more) AND the woman/women must have major leadership role(s) in the decision-making and management of the agriculture operations and business. The WFN Directory’s map-based interface covers all islands and includes agriculture businesses and endeavors of all sizes.
Please watch our video (above) about how women are leading the way in generating new businesses across the islands, from starting CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs to developing online stores for local produce, to producing value-added products from specialty crops, such as mamaki tea, to running agri-tourism and education programming. This video also raises awareness of the benefits of women working together through our network and emerging opportunities for women in agriculture during this opportune time. We hope this video serves as a source of inspiration for women interested in exploring a future in agriculture. Women interested in learning from other women can use the WFN Directory to locate those in our network who offer agriculture training, internships or other forms of mentoring.
This WFN mentor feature is dedicated to Mindy Jaffe in honor of our Summer Soil Health Workshop Series. Co-founder and coordinator of Zero Waste Windward School Hui, Mindy’s program annually turns more than 55 tons of unfinished sandwiches, spoiled milk and other food waste into rich soil for school gardens. In 2004, she started her agri-business, Waikiki Worms, which she was able to pass on to Leslie Foster who continues to meet the needs of vermicomposting enthusiast throughout Hawaii. Over these past 17 years, Mindy has mentored many apprentice.
In asking Mindy how she started her program, she points to her mentors, Betty Gearen and Evelyn Giddings. As Mindy recalls, “Betty really started this whole thing. She passed me a note at a conference which read, ‘You really need to see what we’re doing at Palolo Elementary. We’re the first zero-waste school.’ At that time, the idea of doing a full zero-waste program seemed out of reach in her mind. Betty’s presentation was really powerful though and showed Mindy that it could be done. In addition to providing inspiration for Mindy, Betty also provided a hub for innovators through, The Greenhouse.
Evelyn Giddens, artist by profession and affectionately referred to as a ‘composting guru’ and ‘community treasure’. As Mindy reflects, Evelyn’s methods for composting were ‘truly works of art’. “Even at the age of 80, Evelyn was picking up 150 lbs of food scraps from town and driving the buckets up to Waialua to start build the soil at Mohala Farm. As Mindy shares, “I took Evelyn’s perspective to heart. The aesthetics of everything in my program is important to me. I approach everything we do with composting as though it is an art installation. People expect composting and worms to be dirty and stinky, but our standards are high and it looks beautiful. When people look at our composting system, they have an emotional reaction even if they don’t realize why. This unspoken component has amazing power in receiving buy-in from the schools and public. Evelyn gave me validation for how I worked with the land and it built my confidence in my approach.”
These women were kind enough to share their knowledge, which set me on my path that I’m able to share with others to this day. We have a 40 week apprenticeship program. Our apprentice will build over 150 compost pile to hone their art and develop the feel for consistently building compost to the standards that Evelyn taught me. We were connected to our newest apprentice, Carolyn, through the WFN network. Peer-to-peer networks, like the WNF, support natural ways we learn and grow together, which is through experience and sharing knowledge.
The Hawaii Women Farmers Network (WFN) Directory was produced with funds from the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture.