The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) awarded a new type of lot called subsistence-agricultural lots on July 29, 2023. A total of 15 lots were awarded.
Located in Panaʻewa on the Hilo side of Hawaiʻi Island, these first-of-its-kind half-acre parcels provide DHHL beneficiaries with the opportunity to both live and cultivate on their lots.
“The people that are participating in this new award program are very excited and we’re excited about that in the sense that it’s an innovative program,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair Kali Watson. “Whereby it’s a subsistence farm lot with infrastructure and they have the option of putting a home on the lot but more importantly growing food for their families and neighborhoods, as well as having animals.”
By design, subsistence-agricultural lots are less than three-acres in size and near existing infrastructure in planned communities. This homestead model will allow for small-scale farming for home consumption or supplemental income through commercial sales.
To better support the new agricultural lessees, DHHL will provide agricultural training workshops through the University of Hawaiʻi’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources program. Other resource partners were on hand at the awarding event to not only help beneficiaries with the planning of lots for farming, but also with construction and financing assistance.
“It was joyful to hear my name called,” said DHHL beneficiary Charlotte Seals. “After 47 years on the list, it is wonderful, and to know that I’m Hawaiian and this was offered to Hawaiians to better their lives, I am very grateful.”
DHHL broke ground on this 10-acre parcel in August 2021. The contract for Panaʻewa Lot 185 was awarded to Drainpipe Plumbing and Solar for just under $2.5 million using Trust Funds.
“By dividing and awarding lots that are smaller, we’re able to get the density, and more importantly, make more awards,” Watson said. “We have a limited supply of land so by doing it this way we reduce infrastructure costs and, more importantly, we reduce the waitlist.”
Beneficiaries were provided immediate access to their lot upon signing their lease. All structures must be built to county code.
Six additional subsistence-agricultural lots are planned for development in the area. Subsistence agricultural lots are also slated for development in Honokōwai, Maui; Anahola, Kauaʻi and Honomū on Hawaiʻi Island.
Diamond Badajos is the information and community relations officer for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands