The Farm offers the unique opportunity to study agronomy and farming while gaining hands-on experience on a certified organic farm. Owned and operated by renowned agronomist, Bob Shaffer, our program has been developed to provide young farmers with an education while working on the farm. Bob teaches weekly sit-down courses in addition to field classes.
Our 7-acre farm is located in South Kona on The Big Island of Hawaii.
We produce a wide diversity of perennial, tropical crops all year long. Our main crops include macadamia nut, coffee, mango, avocado and breadfruit. We also grow taro, cacao, bananas, passionfruit, pineapples, papayas, citrus, coconuts, rollinia, soursop, among many other crops. We have many, wild free-range chickens who lay in winter and spring, giving us an abundance of eggs during those seasons. We harvest and sell the food to wholesale distributors, farmers market, restaurants and natural food outlets. We also have an active nursery where we propagate and grow rare and native cultivars to sell.
We are a very different farm than what most people think a farm should be. We practice natural-process, or biological farming. This means that we aim to let Mother Nature grow and thrive here as she would without us. We intervene as little as possible in the resident flora and fauna environment. We have many weeds and we are thankful for them. Sometimes you can’t see our crops and we are proud that they live harmoniously with their natural environment. Workers here learn the science as to why this very different way of farming creates a healthier environment, healthier soils, crops and healthier people. And they learn how to balance the management of crop growth within a natural environment.
The farm is a perennial farm. We work with tree crops. (We don't produce annuals like tomatoes, lettuces, cucumbers, etc.)
The farm is located in the village of Honaunau. It is a quiet, farming area of the island. We are about 5 minutes from Kealakekua Bay which offers some of the best snorkeling and diving on the island and about 10 minutes away from the Puuhonua o Honaunau National Park (The City of Refuge).
The nearest town is Captain Cook, about 10 minutes drive from the farm. We go into town a few times a week for shopping and other errands.
It’s a bit of a jungle and we do have mosquitoes and tropical insects. Winter is our driest season (with fewer mosquitoes). The rainy season usually begins in May and lasts until September.
This is a teaching farm. Our farm is only for those looking to learn more about farming and agronomy in an effort to rethink how we farm our lands and how we impact the environment. The work we do - taking care of our land and teaching - is as important to us as the produce our farm creates.
Please do not apply if you are not interested in being a student. We are not a typical workaway profile. This is not a placement for a get away or a holiday. We are an accredited internship program for many universities and we receive many students all year long. We accept people who have never farmed as well as masters students and young professionals looking to further their knowledge, as long as they are dedicated to learning and committed to it.
Additionally, living in Hawaii is a very unique cultural experience in itself. The farm is situated in the beautiful Kealakekua Bay area of the island. It's a small agricultural community today, but was and is also a highly sacred area for the Hawaiians. The Pu'u'honua o Honaunau National Historical Park is very near and offers cultural activities year round. Our local paddle club welcomes new paddlers and gives them a chance to experience the Hawaiian tradition of canoe racing.
We are currently accepting applications from Dec 2019 and later. At the moment we have space for 1 male intern from December. Our female places are booked through March.
We ask for 25 hours per week from our team. Tasks are highly diversified and many! We spend a lot of time harvesting, weeding and weed- whipping, irrigating during the dry season, propagating and taking care of nursery stock. We are still planting out areas of the farm – so clearing land and digging holes is also a large chore. In non-harvest times we rebuild structures and do building and tool maintenance work.
The fall/winter months are our busiest and most crucial time on the farm. We are harvesting coffee, macadamia nut and avocados - our biggest crops. If you are interested in working during these months, please be aware of what harvest season means on a farm. Crops must get off the trees before we lose them. There are days that we will work longer hours in order to do this. (Any extra hours accumulated on certain days, will be given off on non-essential days.) Harvest season on a farm requires farmers to be flexible, willing to do repetitive labor, pay attention to detail and keep a good attitude. Harvest is always an exciting season on a farm, but also a challenging one.
We give priority to longer term applicants (3 months or longer) but do make exceptions if we have the space available.
We also ask that interns without insurance purchase travel insurance for the duration of their stay here in case of any medical emergencies. We typically recommend World Nomads Insurance. It's quite cheap and we've never had a problem getting reimbursed for medical expenses.
There are two 12x12 foot screened bungalows with a common outdoor fully-equipped kitchen area and a common bathroom. There is electricity in the bungalows, kitchen and bathroom areas. We have space for 2 people per bungalow. We also have one tent platform a short distance from the bungalow area for an those who prefers to camp.
Everyone is welcome to most of the food on the farm. The rest of the food is purchased individually.
Students pay for the propane for the oven, as well as all products used in student area. (toilet paper, dishwashing liquid, and other necessities). The kitchen area is fully stocked with pots, pans, dishes and silverware.
There is free wifi here. Wifi can be spotty during storms and other times. It is also not very strong and things like Skype and Facetime can be problematic.
Cell phones generally work all over the farm. However, Sprint service does not work anywhere on or near this farm. If you have Sprint, you will need another service provider while you are here.
(For those with allergies: We have three cats that live in the bungalow area. They are very friendly and love to be around people. Because the area is outdoors, most people with allergies to cats have never had a problem. However, if you are severely allergic, it might not work out for you.)
During days off, most people love to spend time at the local beaches or explore hiking trails in the area. Buses run around the island for only $2 a trip and many people like to take a couple days to camp and see other parts of this incredible island.
Hawaii is an exciting place with lots to see and explore. We understand that people may likely want to visit various destinations during their stay. For short-term interns (3 months or less) we ask that you plan any extended traveling time (more than 2 days) before or after your internship dates. For long-term interns, we’ll work with you to book time off that is optimal for everyone.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week