|Evaluation of Hawai'i Coffee Agroforestry Systems 2007-09
The ecological and economic benefits of shade-grown coffee agroforestry systems have been recognized for many years throughout the tropics, but have been little studied in Hawai‘i. Over the past few years, innovative farmers in Kona and elsewhere in Hawai‘i have begun experimenting with shade-grown coffee. These farmers and others considering coffee agroforestry are in need of technical assistance based on research. This project studied twelve existing shade-grown coffee orchards and compared them with open-grown coffee based on soil organic matter, major insect pests and plant diseases, yield and bean quality, and environmental conditions (shade levels, tree density, plant species present, etc.). We expect that shade-grown coffee has potential for wider adoption.
Project collaboration team
Dr. Travis Idol, UH Manoa Assistant Professor of Tropical Forestry and Agroforestry, will survey plant populations, tree basal area, shade levels, and supervise collection of soil samples. Dr. Idol teaches Tropical Forestry and Agroforestry, Forest Ecosystem Analysis, and Evaluation of Natural Resource Management at UH Manoa, and has a special interest in evaluating coffee agroecosystems.
Dr. J. B. Friday, UH Manoa Extension Specialist in Forestry, will monitor environmental variables, evaluate timber and non-timber products from shade trees, and conduct outreach to the forestry community. Dr. Friday’s interests include tree-crop competition in agroforestry systems, economics of forestry in Hawai‘i, reforestation of former agriculture lands, management of native forests for multiple uses, and economics of tree farming.
Virginia Easton Smith, UH Manoa Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, will help identify potential producer participants, develop evaluation strategies, and be in charge of outreach to the community. Ms. Easton Smith is currently the primary coffee extension agent in Hawai‘i, and arguably is the most experienced in addressing coffee producer issues in Hawai‘i, including plant nutrition, production, and pests and diseases.
Dr. Mark Wright, UH Manoa Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, will supervise the collection of insect pest data. Dr. Wright’s interests include environmentally sound pest management options, with emphasis on tropical fruit and nut crops. He is currently working on a project to evaluate pest populations of black twig borer in coffee.
Dr. Chris Lepczyk, UH Manoa Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Management, will coordinate landowner monitoring of wildlife, including birds and mammals. Dr. Lepczyk's interests include understanding how people influence the landscape and the species present upon them. This focus stems from a life long goal of conserving and managing our natural resource heritage.
Dr. Scot C. Nelson, UH Manoa Associate Specialist (Plant Pathology), Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, will collect and analyze pest and disease data. Dr. Nelson specializes in the diagnosis and management of pests and diseases of important economic crops, and has extensive experience with coffee.
Melanie Bondera of Kanalani Ohana Farm is a certified organic coffee producer and processor. Ken Sheppard is president of Kona Coffee Farmers Association and a coffee producer and processor. Denver Leaman of ‘Ohi‘a Forest Farm grows coffee in the shade of native ‘ohi‘a lehua forest. Melanie, Ken, and Denver are advising on project design and implementation, and are participating coffee agroforestry producers.
Craig Elevitch is an agroforestry specialist. Since 1989, he has worked in agroforestry design, management, and education. His projects focus on multipurpose trees that have economic, environmental, and cultural significance. His books include Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands (2000), Growing Koa: A Hawaiian Legacy Tree (2003), Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands: Their Culture, Environment, and Use (2006), Noni: The Complete Guide for Consumers and Growers (2006), and Pathways to Abundant Gardens: A Pictorial Guide to Successful Organic Growing (2007).
Braund Farms has about 9 acres of coffee trees growing in the shade of macadamia nuts. This is an example of two commercial crops grown together on the same piece of land to lessen the impact of market fluctuations. Owned by the Braund family, Derek Kirk manages daily operations.
Buddha's Cup Estate Grown Kona Coffee cultivates coffee in the understory of a 50 acre native 'ohi'a lehua forest in Keauhou at the 2200 ft elevation. Buddha's Cup is operated by Chris and Jen Coleman with management by Manny.
Canopy Coffee Company cultivates coffee trees within a native 'ohi'a lehua forest that is estimated to be hundreds of years old. Cultivating this coffee assists in control of invasive species that have invaded the forest. Canopy Coffee Company is owned and operated by Churd and Chew Hanson.
Buddha's Cup Estate Grown Kona Coffee
Canopy Coffee Company
Earthly Delights Farm grows certified organic coffee, macnuts, citrus, breadfruit, and garden vegetables. This family farm is managed by Bonnie and Bacci Perata.
Earthly Delights Farm
Imagine Estate Grown 100% Kona Coffee was established in 2005 in the shade of a young 10-acre macadamia nut orchard. After 2 years, the coffee was a finalist in the 2007 Gevalia Cupping competition. Imagine is operated by Chris and Jen Coleman with management by Manny.
Imagine Estate Grown Coffee
Island Sun Coffee grows coffee under a uniform canopy of 30 year old monkeypod trees. The monkeypod shade is thought to help the coffee thrive in a hotter, drier environment than it usually prefers. Island Sun is managed by its owners Al and Donna Woolley.
Island Sun Coffee
Kanalani Ohana Farm produces certified organic coffee in a diverse agroforest including other crops such as covered with avocado, mango, papaya, guava, coconut, orange, apple, fig, and flowering trees. This family farm is managed by Melanie and Colehour Bondera.
Kanalani Ohana Farm
Kona Le`a Plantation (Holualoa Kona Coffee Company) produces certified organic coffee under the shade of nitrogen fixing trees such as gliricidia and monkeypod. The trees are pruned periodically to manage the light infiltration and to add organic matter to the soil. The farm is managed by Desmond and Lisen Twigg-Smith.
Kona Le'a Plantation
Kuaiwi Farm produces organically certified shade-grown coffee on the slopes of Mauna Loa 2000' elevation. Other crops include avocado, banana, citrus, and cacao. Kuaiwi Farm is managed by Una Greenaway and Leon Rosner.
Meheula Farm has produced shade-grown coffee in South Kona for over 25 years. A wide variety of fruit trees grow among the coffee trees, and geese and ducks help keep the weeds under control. Meheula Farm is managed by Barbara and Kalehua Meheula.
Ohi‘a Forest Farm integrates the diverse native flora existing on the site with other crop trees in the understory, mainly coffee plants. 'Ohi'a Forest Farm is managed by Denver Leaman and Trisha Bobnar.
Ohi'a Forest Farm
Sweet Spirit Farms produces coffee under the shade of monkeypod trees on a low elevation site. The farm also produces other crops such as mango and noni. Paul and Deb Sims own and operate Sweet Spirt Farms.
Sweet Spirit Farms
This project was sponsored by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant program and the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development in partnership with the Big Island Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, with matching contributions from the project collaborators’ organizations. The Big Island RC&D Council is a 501c3 non-profit corporation registered in the State of Hawai‘i. The RC&D Program is a public-private partnership administered by NRCS that assists individuals and organizations with grant acquisition and fiscal management for beneficial community projects.