Aqua-culture Farm Start-up

Is our farm a match for you? We hope to spell it out in detail so you can decide for yourself :) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Where is Hilo?

Hilo is located on the eastern side of the Big Island (the "Island of Hawaii"). We are located between two massive volcanoes. For a quick view of the Big Island, check this page: --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What's it like to live in Hawaii?

We are a small (5 acre) farm on a beautiful hillside with a view of Hilo bay. The elevation here gives us close to perfect weather year round: High temps are in the mid 80's and lows are in the low 60's. The variation throughout the year is only about 5 degrees. (in Celsius: high temps are upper 20's and lows are mid teens, variation is around 2 degrees.) It's usually nice and cool here, afternoons can get hot. Usually there's a nice breeze. During the night, typically it will be cool and comfortable. We don't have any air conditioning or heat as neither is needed! Our hot water is solar and on-demand. We have only been on this farm for a little over a year, and while we have made large strides towards our goals, there is still a great deal of work to do! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What is our goal?

Our goal is to be a self-sufficient farm in as many respects as possible. We hope this will include vegetables, nuts and fruit crops along with protein from eggs, fish and shrimp.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What help do we need?

We hope you can help make progress towards our sustainability goals! We heartily welcome travelers from overseas as part of an international cultural exchange.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Schedule ?
You will be responsible for creating your own schedule, so you can tailor that to your liking! Some volunteers choose to do a few hours each morning so they can have every afternoon off. Others choose to squeeze all their hours into a few days, so they can have extra days free. The only restriction is a maximum of 6 hours in a day... otherwise you are free to plan it out as you wish.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Transportation

The nearest bus stop is 2.3 miles *(3.7 km) down the road. It's a nice walk but it's always nice to grab a ride. Typically we go into town once or twice a week, and we are more than happy to give you a lift.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Elevation, volcanoes?

We are at about 1200 feet (365 m), sandwiched between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two of the largest volcanoes in the world. But, the volcanoes in Hawaii are not the "explosive" type that get all the press. Actually, Kilauea volcano (part of Mauna Loa) has been continuously erupting in one form or another since 1983. In Hawaii, volcanoes are much more of a "tourist attraction" than something ominous.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ponds?

Yes. We have excavated several ponds for aqua farming. Three are quite large, and there are many smaller “support” ponds. Why so many ponds? Well, one of our best natural resources here in Hilo is the abundant rainfall. Combined with the warm climate we have the perfect location for growing a multitude of fish like tilapia, Pacu and catfish! We are also looking into raising prawns. Edible water plants are also part of the plan including lotus root (and seeds), water cress and water spinach.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- How secluded is our farm?

Not very. We are only a few miles from the smallish city of Hilo, and getting to town is quite easy. Our farm is in a mixed residential-agriculture zone. The closest mini-mart is 2.4 miles (3.8 km) from the farm and the closest large grocery store is 6.1 miles (9.8 km) .

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- How many volunteers are currently at the farm?

We have one room available (2 single beds) so it's likely that another volunteer will be here when you arrive. We are happy to discuss that in detail with you. We also welcome couples, and paired travelers. And solo travelers too of course.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What kind of food is provided?

Meals are not provided. We are happy to share the organic fruits and vegetables when we have a surplus. We continue to ramp up production there, but there is some seasonality (even in Hawaii) so not all items are continuously available.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Activities and weather

The weather typically has the biggest influence over our schedule. Hilo can be anything from hot and sunny to cool and rainy. Cloudy with an occasional sprinkle is probably the most common weather pattern (which is quite nice for working outside!). Usually the best time of the day to help is in the morning, and we are usually out doing projects early if it's going to be a hot day. The mornings are much cooler and the skies tend to be clearer. In any case, how you decide to schedule your time is up to you.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What type of projects will we be doing?

Currently we have quite a few projects in play. Most notable of these are the creation of aqua-farming ponds. And although that sounds like it would involve a lot of digging, actually all the ponds are already dug out. What's left to do is to smooth out the rough shape of the pond, remove copious amounts of small to medium lava rocks, and get it all level. Other activities can include planting trees, bushes and plants, clearing & prepping flower beds, grading pathways, farm chores, etc.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What kind of clothing is recommended?

Believe it or not, when working outdoors, we wear long sleeves and pants with boots and gloves. What you wear is up to you as long as you can stay safe and participate in the activity being done. During free time, afternoons can be warm so warm-weather clothes are a good idea. At night it's quite cool, so you might bring a light jacket. It would be a good idea to bring a hat and a rain coat. We have a few pair of rubber boots which you are welcome to wear while in the garden. Of course, you are welcome to bring your own as well.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- How are the bugs?

Luckily, we are pretty bug free. Unlike many places in Hawaii, we have few mosquitoes. Likewise, there are few other creepy-crawlies. The one insect we do have to worry a bit about is the "LFA" ... the infamous "little fire ant". It's incredibly small (as small as a grain of salt) but it can give a good jab. Typically, the ants don't “attack” but rather sting when they fall on you. The ants travel in search of food and they don't have the best footing so can fall from tree branches etc. Best way to avoid the little buggers is to notice if there are ants around where you are working (i.e. in a bush/tree) and avoid banging into the branches. Also, be mindful of where you put your hat, gloves or jacket. If you have any other bug concerns, please feel free to ask! If you've read everything to this point, you are awesome! And to show us just how awesome you are, be sure to check the bottom and reply with the opposite color!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- How's the wifi?

We have excellent WiFi all around the house and barn. Typically we get 200Mbps download and 10Mbps up (the system can easily handle multiple devices streaming HD videos, video conferencing, and gaming at the same time).

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- How's the cell service?

There is good cell service everywhere on the farm.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- How long can I/we stay?

We recommend a couple weeks, but it's up to you. Typically volunteers stay for 2 or 3 weeks. We try to be as flexible as possible with scheduling as we know that booking flight and ongoing travel can be challenging.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What are the accommodation like?

The guest room is in the "club house" which is the 2nd story of the "barn" (which normally doesn't house any animals... the first floor is part shop space and part storage and "infirmity" in case an animal needs a quiet place to rest). The bedroom is clean and uncluttered. Just off the guest room is a "living room" which is quite spacious and has a great view. There is a small kitchen there with a big fridge, a two burner gas stove, a microwave, sink, etc. We ask that you clean up the kitchen after every use. Off the living room is one bathroom with a shower, toilet and sink. The bathroom is a "shared" space with our son (20 years old), so please take that into consideration. There is also a guest bath in the main house which is available. In the room are two single beds, a two sets of shelves, and two movable closets. There is a large modern window with curtains. The bed, pillow and sheets are clean.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Do you wear shoes in the house?

No. But we do wear slippers which are only for use inside. We encourage you to bring a pair of slippers or at least a clean pair of flip-flops that you only wear inside. In Hawaii, it's very common to remove shoes when going inside. We think, especially on a farm, that wearing outdoor shoes inside is crazy. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Can I bring a dog?

We have a dog and a cat, and both occasionally come inside the house. That being said, neither is allow in the bedrooms or on the sofas! Both are fairly clean, but, well, they are not that clean! So, if you want to bring a pet, that could be doable, but let's discuss it in more detail. Also, if you really want to share your bed with your pet, then that's going to be an issue. Why? Put simply, some people are allergic to pet dander. And whereas the floor etc can be cleaned, it's much harder to clean a mattress. Our mattresses are less than a year old and very clean. So we'd like to keep it that way. Lastly, any pet you bring would of course need to get along with our (rather crazy) dog and (rather mellow) cat, and other farm animals. And you'd need to be 100% responsible for your pet!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Would there be an ongoing employment possibility?

We are far from any commercial stage at our farm, so it's really not something we are thinking of at this point. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Smoking, drug usage?

We kindly ask for non-smokers and non-users only please. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What are we growing?

We have only been on this land for just over a year, so many things are still young and growing, but here's a partial list: bananas, papaya, lemon grass, sweet potato, citrus (lemon, limes, orange, tangerine), cacao, guava, Brazilian cherry, Achacha, curry leaf, tomatoes, cabbage, bush beans, ube, shiso, spinach, lettuce (multiple varieties), corn, herbs, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, strawberries, grapefruit, lilikoi (passion fruit), yacon, raspberries, blackberries, eggplant, peppers (spicy and mild), etc~! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What foods are we self-sufficient in?

Self-sufficiency will certainly take some time! While we are making good progress, we are quite far from our goals. Nevertheless, we believe we are self-sufficient in: lemons, limes, tomatoes, lettuce, some herbs, lemon grass, spinach, basil, peppers (spicy), papaya, and eggs. Some of these items are seasonal though. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Water

Hilo has some of the best water in the country. It's right out of the volcano and they say it takes 10,000 years for it to filter through. Bring a large thermos/water bottle and enjoy! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Soda, bottled water, etc

We are trying to eliminated single use cans and bottles from our farm. Plastic bags are mostly banned here on the island and we try to recycle as much as possible. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Soldier flies?

Yes. All of our kitchen scraps go into a specially designed bin (outside) which is the perfect habitat for black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens). The larvae of these flies eats all the scraps and turns it into fantastic compost and “liquid gold”. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Animals

We have one cat and one dog, 12 sheep (with 2new lambs!)and 4 hens. The sheep basically keep the back pasture well groomed, the hens give us eggs, and the dog and cat are our entertainment! It's a small farm but we're still expanding. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- How do the sheep contribute to the farm?

Sheep manure is something we are utilizing for “cold manure”. It's an excellent fertilizer due to it's high potassium and balanced nitrogen. One project we have is to substantially improve our collection of the “magic pellets”, but that project is quite a ways off. Currently we can collect around 10 (dry) gallons per month. Wow, you are such a fantastic reader! Please be sure to put the word "purple" in your inquiry, so we know what an outstanding reader you are!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Qualifications & Requirements

We require that you agree to the terms as detailed here. Also, we request that you fill out the questioner (part of your application) and that your profile is up to date and complete. We receive a lot of applications and the number one reason why we do not accept candidates is because their profile is incomplete.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Experience

No experience required! Come get some farming skills!

Pre Confirmation

Our policy is to accept applications for a space until it's confirmed, so we encourage any accepted applicants to contact us regarding their travel plans and confirm their application as soon as practicable.

Of course we also realize that dates often need to be moved a few days due to flight reservations/cost. We will try our best to accommodate any changes to your travel plans, however please understand that we only have limited space.

Flights to Hilo

We recommend using Kayak Flights ( ) to check flight prices. If there are other international airports in your area, you might try looking at prices from those departure points. Also, be sure to check prices to Honolulu! Sometimes a roundtrip ticket to Honolulu is much cheaper than a round trip ticket to Hilo!

From Honolulu to Hilo is quite easy. Usually the tickets are fairly inexpensive. We recommend checking:

Hawaiian Airlines ( )


Southwest Airlines ( )

Post Confirmation

We will send you information on transportation, pickup locations, general information about Hawaii and Hilo as requested. If you have any questions on the amazing sights and popular places to go here on the Big Island, please let us know!

Upon Arrival

We will pick you up at the Hilo airport. If you would like to stop at the grocery store on the way to pickup supplies, we will be happy to take you. If you are planning a stop at the grocery store, please try to arrive in Hilo between 8:00 am and 8:00pm.

We are a multi-cultural family leaning to the Asian side of things (food, customs, languages). We are just starting on our “self-sufficiency start-up farm”, but we've made some great progress so far! We work hard but also enjoy the beautiful and comfortable environment in Hilo, Hawaii. We speak: English ភាសាខ្មែរស្ទាត់ជំនាញ ペラペラ日本語 un peu de langue française

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I stayed for four weeks at the farm, and it was really cool!🥰 The work was a little exhausting sometimes when the sun was strong, but the nature here is beautiful, and the farm as well! I learned a lot about farming and 🌱 I love the animals there, especially Chai and Kitty Cat. Thanks to Tair for showing us the island. Thanks to Dave and Mey for hosting us and the Thanksgiving invite! I liked that we lived in a separate cottage, so we had a lot of privacy.

6 days ago



The two weeks I was on the farm were very lovely. I enjoyed the time there very much and learned many new things. Dave and Mey always helped me. The farm is surrounded by beautiful nature and the animals are very cute. The work in the green was very interesting and I enjoyed it very much. If you like to work with locals I would recommend it 100% to you.

about 1 month ago



The last two weeks on the farm were truly amazing! Dave and Mey were so nice and always tried their best to make us feel welcome and comfortable. The work was made up of many different tasks so it never got boring and I got to learn soooo much about farming and different cultures during my stay there. Thanks to their son Tair, I could explore a looooot of beautiful places on the island as well. :)
I really really hope that I can come back to that farm again, I loved it!

2 months ago



WooooW, it was amazing. I really loved my stay here, time went by so fast and I wish I could go back to the beginning. The work was very interesting and I learned a lot about farm work there. Their animals are soo cute, especially their dog, Chai. During our days off we had the opportunity to explore the whole island and it was definitely worth it. If I’ll ever come back to Hawaii I’m certain that I’m gonna help at this farm again. It was for sure an experience I will never forget and probably created there some of the best memories ever.🤩🤩🤩

2 months ago



I really enjoyed my stay at Dave’s aquafarm. Being so close to nature always has a good impact on my well-being so I’m glad I could spent the time working and helping with building an amazing place. I could schedule the hours by myself as long as I’d do the amount scheduled for a whole week. That gave me an opportunity to explore the Big Island. If you’re looking for a program to get some gardering skills and spend your time close to nature I’d definitely recommend choosing Dave’s place. He, his partner and son create very cosy environment so being a part of it was a pleasure to me.

3 months ago

Perfect for you if you're looking for

Contact with nature

Contact with animals