HONOLULU, June 30, 2015—During International Year of Soil, this month is dedicated to raise awareness on how soils support recreation. At Sunset Ranch in Pupukea, the 27-acre property is home to a horse ranch, coffee plantation, citrus orchard, mixed produce farm, aquaculture, and botanical garden. Of the 27 acres, 12 are dedicated to pasture with five acres of riding field for their specialized program that incorporates horses for personal growth, learning, and healing.

Sunset Ranch is one of few agricultural operations that have conveyed a perpetual agricultural conservation easement to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in partnership with the North Shore Community Land Trust and the City and County of Honolulu. The property was preserved for agriculture through the Farm and Ranch Protection Program (FRPP) which is now incorporated under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) administered by NRCS and authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

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In addition to the preservation of this agricultural land, Sunset Ranch has a conservation plan with NRCS and the West Oahu Soil and Water Conservation District. The plan includes integrated pest management, micro irrigation, mulching, critical area planting, prescribed grazing, and heavy use area protection. These conservation practices will help to reduce erosion, protect water quality, and manage weeds.

“This is a wonderful example of how an agricultural easement has protected prime agricultural land and helped diversify operations on a ranch known for its equine training and therapy programs, as well as its scenic views,” stated Bruce Petersen, NRCS Director of the Pacific Islands Area. NRCS is the federal agency that provides voluntary technical assistance for conservation and restoration of natural resources on private agricultural lands. Established in 1935 as a response to the Dust Bowl, the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) evolved to the Natural Resources Conservation Service to protect, restore and enhance soil, water, air, plants, and animal resources, with human social, economic and cultural considerations. In 1937 Soil Conservation Associations, now called Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), were authorized by President Roosevelt to act as local partners to the Federal SCS, and can plan and carry out local programs for soil conservation, flood prevention, water management, outdoor recreation, and other purposes within their boundaries. Hawaii has 16 SWCD’s on eight islands.

NRCS, SWCD, and conservation cooperators such as Sunset Ranch, have been dedicated to conserving and enhancing the natural resources on private agricultural properties for decades, and this means starting with the soils that support and enable agricultural production and recreational activities, such as found at Sunset Ranch. To learn more about the programs and services of NRCS, and how we are celebrating International Year of Soils, visit www.pia.nrcs.usda.gov. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Jolene Lau
Public Affairs Specialist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
United States Department of Agriculture
300 Ala Moana Blvd., #4-118
Honolulu, HI 96850
(808) 541-2600 ext. 135
www.pia.nrcs.usda.gov

At Sunset Ranch, we continue to work hard to expand our botanical garden elements.  We hope to continue to add more and more native species throughout the property.  Moreover, in honor of the owner’s grandmother, Fern, we have officially dedicated a portion of the property to her memory:  Fern’s Garden.
Thank you to Kay Lynch and Waimea Valley for making our vision of Fern’s Garden a reality.  Kay helped assist with clearing and planting thirteen native fern species in our garden this past month!  We look forward to continued efforts with Kay to manage and build our native fern collection.  She, after all, is the expert!

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We are absolutely thrilled to introduce our Native Tree planting program at Sunset Ranch. Concurrent with the launch of our Site Tour Experiences, our guests are now provided the unique opportunity to plant a native tree in the mauka regions of Waimea Valley (and in some cases Sunset Ranch), all in the spirit of land conservation and forest restoration.  A portion of proceeds will be donated to the land conservation cause in Hawaii.

The Native Tree planting program was made possible by an operating agreement with Hi’ipaka, LLC, the owner and operator of Waimea Valley.  As a result, Sunset Ranch guests are provided exclusive access to newly cleared trails and lookouts in the mauka regions of the valley.  We have just recently begun to eradicate invasive plants and trees as we thoughtfully reintroduce native plants with the objective of meaningfully advancing forest restoration in this region of the North Shore.

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Site Tour Experiences are provided exclusively in partnership with Hawaiian Fresh Farms, and are made by reservation ONLY.  Availability can be found on the calendar at the Book NOW tab.  Please book here online.  If you require more information, please contact us at (808)638-8333 or [email protected].  Mahalo nui loa for your support!

The Perfect Picnic was profiled in the March issue of Natural Awakenings magazine.  Mahalo to Becky and Bud Kowalski for thinking of us as we launch our Site Tour Experiences in 2015!  Select the Book Now tab to secure reservations for The Perfect Picnic today!  For any questions, please contact us at (808)638-8333, or e-mail us at [email protected].

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Site Tour Experience at Sunset Ranch are provided exclusively in partnership with Hawaiian Fresh Farms, and by reservation ONLY.  Visitors can make reservations on the Book NOW tab or by contacting us at (808)638-8333 or  [email protected].  Mahalo nui loa!

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The Ultimate Hike is offered Sundays and Tuesdays from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. This is an opportunity to access private trails and lookouts in Waimea Valley, learn about the history Sunset Ranch, the valley and enjoy a locally sourced lunch and Hawaiian story-telling. For an additional fee of $40, visitors can also plant a native tree and receive a certificate for their contribution to forest restoration in Hawaii.

Reservation ONLY. #SunsetRanchHawaii #SiteTourExperiences #TheUltimateHike Book NOW on-line, or contact us at [email protected] or (808)638-8333. Mahalo nui loa for your support!

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The Perfect Picnic is offered Sundays and Tuesdays from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM and 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. This is a unique experience that provides couples exclusive access to Sunset Ranch to learn about the history of the property and enjoy a locally sourced picnic at one of six pre-designated locations around the property.

Reservation ONLY.  #SunsetRanchHawaii #SiteTourExperiences #ThePerfectPicnic  Book NOW on-line, or contact us at [email protected] or (808)638-8333. Mahalo nui loa for your support!

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The Farm-To-Table Experience is offered every Thursday from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM and from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. This unique and authentic Hawaiian experience includes an elegant tour around Sunset Ranch and an exquisite four course meal in a botanical garden setting with ocean and mountain views.

Reservation ONLY.  #SunsetRanchHawaii #SiteTourExperiences #TheFarmToTableExperience  Book NOW on-line, or contact us at [email protected] or (808)638-8333. Mahalo nui loa for your support!

 

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Aloha!  We want to provide a quick update on Charlie’s Pond.  In a previous blog a while back, we provided the details of all of the work behind the complete restoration of the pond. Subsequent stabilization and careful management, we then introduced tilapia to begin to establish it as an official aquaculture site.  This was also a long and involved process.  All that said, we have some great news to share:  it was all well worth it!  We are VERY happy to share that the tilapia continue to thrive and we currently estimate between 500 and 600 healthy fish.  While the management of the approximate 50,000 gallon pond is no easy task, Charlie’s Pond has never looked better and we’re encouraged by the healthy fish production.

Here is a recent pic of Charlie’s Pond.  The small fountain you see was recently added to further enhance aeration provided by the running stream.  Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about our efforts in this regard.  Mahalo nui loa for your support!

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We’re extremely excited to announce that we’re committing several acres of our upper pasture to coffee farming.  The coffee farming area will be incorporated into our Environmental Learning Center at the southern most part of the property.  The remainder of the upper pasture will continue to be used for our horsemanship programs, and uses as related to Sunset Stables.

The upper pasture sits at about a 950 foot elevation.  That, combined with an annual rainfall of approximately 60 inches per year, provides for a decent environment for coffee farming.  The upper pasture is also somewhat protected from high wind conditions by the surrounding ironwood and eucalyptus trees.  We’ve targeted the Arabica species of coffee for its richness in flavor, and will be growing the following two varieties:

1.  Blue Mountain.  The Blue Mountain variety is well known for originating in regions of Jamaica.  That said, it has been growing in Hawaii for many, many decades.  Technically, Blue Mountain is a mutation of Arabica Typica and is a tall growing tree.  While the cherry yield isn’t as great as some other varieties, it provides a superb richness in flavor and is often used in various blends; and

2.  Red Catuai.  The Red “Cat” is a hybrid of Mundo Novo and Caturra and originated in Brazil in the late 1940’s.  This variety is common in Hawaii and provides an extremely high yield.  These trees do not grow as tall, but can be much fuller than other varieties.  The Red Cats are also known for the richness in flavor.

Here is a picture of some year old coffee trees at Sunset Ranch!

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While one could argue that the rainfall is sufficient to manage our small coffee farm; we have decided to install a drip line system throughout this dedicated area in order to best manage the dry summer months.  The water system will be completed, and all remaining trees will planted, this summer.  We’ll keep you posted on their growth!  We can’t wait for our first harvest!