Council supports grant award to reopen access to Puna farms

The Hawaii County Council voted in support of a resolution to award a $50,000 grant to a Puna nonprofit to reopen access to Puna farms isolated by lava.

During their meeting Wednesday, council members voted unanimously in favor of a resolution authorizing the county Department of Research and Development to award $50,000 to Malama ‘O Puna, a Puna nonprofit that supports Kilauea recovery efforts in lower Puna.

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Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz, who introduced the resolution, said the grant will be used to cut roads across the lava, allowing farmers to access six farms east of Nanawale Estates that were cut off by the 2018 Kilauea lava flow.

Kierkiewicz said survey work for the access roads is currently being conducted and added she is hopeful the project can be completed this summer.

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“Farmers are the food suppliers for our island,” Kierkiewicz said. “They asked us for help, and the Department of Research and Development was able to find some money to help them.”

According to the resolution, the project will restore access to 1,074 acres of lava-locked agricultural land, including 700 acres of “prime papaya lands.”