Hawaii Agricultural Foundation: Connecting Farmers and the Community

Sponsored by Central Pacific Bank

Otsuji Farms in Hawaii Kai has been around for 50 years. Thanks to the Farmer Assistance program from the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation (HAF), it’ll hopefully be here for 50 more. Today, the organization continues to seek volunteers from the community who are interested in helping local farmers.

HAF has had much success working with farmer Ed Otsuji by connecting him with the right people to turn his business around. Otsuji, age 83 years, had run into a number of problems, including accounting issues, receivables that amounted to tens of thousands of dollars, illegal squatters, and unsuccessful attempts to sell or turnover the farm to new owners.

“Our Farmer Assistance programs are focused on providing small farmers with support, skills and expertise in all aspects of farming so they can achieve scale and profitability,” says Denise Yamaguchi with HAF. “We assist farmers in developing technology literacy, business acumen, and achieve scale through an individualized, hands-on approach.”

By connecting Otsuji with a hui of community volunteers who had backgrounds in ranging from finance, accounting, real estate, volunteers were able to help him reorganize his finances, install security systems, and assist him what was necessary to get the farm up and running again.

Otsuji Farm now generates enough monthly revenue to sustain his workforce and is working on succession planning and renewal of his lease.

“Denise took the time to introduce me to people who helped me get my farm back on track. Before that, the farm was near closure, and the future seemed uncertain,” Otsuji says. “My farm has been my life and the legacy I hope to leave for Hawaii.”

If anyone is interested in getting involved with volunteer opportunities and supporting local farmers, reach out to HAF at

“We’re always looking for volunteers who want to donate their time in any way they feel the most valuable. We work with a lot of local farmers who could use the help,” Yamaguchi adds. “Whether it’s providing your professional expertise, or pulling weeds and helping out with other things around the farm, your time is appreciated.”

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