USDA’s $3 million direct loan has allowed Kona Pacific’s supporting nonprofit to purchase a 38-acre parcel containing elementary school campus, a biodynamic farm (fallow), four residences, and eight acres of the ancient Kona Field System of agriculture. The loan also funds a million dollar construction project comprising two buildings totaling 6,000 square feet (tripling classroom space), additional restrooms, parking, and a ball field.
The school opened in August 2007, with kindergarten through fourth grade and has added a grade each year since. This year, Kona Pacific is adding a second kindergarten class and an eighth grade, bringing enrollment capacity to 235 students, from junior kindergarten through eighth grade. Enrollment of 99% demonstrates the high level of need and strong community support.
One new building will contain two kindergarten classrooms with shared kitchen, where snacks and food from the school’s garden will be prepared. The other building will have four classrooms for middle school students, allowing these older students to have a space of their own. Beyond the expanded campus, outdoor education opportunities are plentiful on the 38 acres, reinforcing the school’s agricultural heritage.
Restoration of the Kona Field System and cultivation of traditional Hawaiian crops using traditional methods will weave core academics within a framework of Hawaiian cultural knowledge and hands-on agricultural instruction, promoting stewardship of the land and healthy eating habits. In addition, the biodynamic farm will supply the school nutrition service, be used for educational programs, and serve as a site for Community Supported Agriculture.
Additional information about rural programs is available at a Local USDA Rural Development Office, or on USDA’s Web site at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov