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, but it can get hot in the afternoon. 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 been on this farm since the fall of 2021, and while we have made big strides towards our goals, there is still so much to do! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What is our goal?

Our goal is to be a self-sufficient family farm and to share our bounty with friends and neighbors (and volunteers!). We are focused on vegetables, nuts and fruit crops along with protein from eggs, fish and shrimp. Beyond that, we would like to share the methods that we have learned to help build self-sufficiency across the Hawaiian archipelago!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 in coordination with your Team Leader (depending on the number of volunteers at the farm at any given time). As a group, you can choose your days off and enjoy a flexible schedule! Seasonality, weather and where you want to go on your free time will all play a part. We hope that all volunteers can be harmonious and come together as a team. Note that there are special days which we may ask for your participation (like "Mulch First Saturday" and "Mulch Second Wednesday" (both are only once a month).

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team ?
We have found that a small group of volunteers has the most fun. And we are all about having fun! That fun extends to volunteers sharing meals, playing games, traveling around the island together, doing fun activities like snorkeling at the beach or hiking around the volcano or going shopping. As such, we are looking for "team players" who are happy in that type of environment. If you are looking for a more "independent" and "solo" experience, then this is probably not the place for you.

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

Public transportation on the big island of Hawaii is limited to the local bus. It's clean, it's roomy and it's free! (until 2026). The nearest bus stop is 2.9 miles *(4.6 km) down the road. While it's possible to give you a lift (if we are going to town), we might not be able to take everyone (which is no fun). So embrace the joy of walking! In summary, getting to/from town and other areas of the island is your responsibility. Uber and similar apps can pick you up, and many volunteers have rented a car (as a group).

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

We are at about 1200 feet (365 m), on the slopes of Mauna Loa with an amazing view of Mauna Kea! These are two of the largest volcanoes in the world! But not to worry!... 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 two bedrooms available with two single beds each, so it's likely that other volunteers will be here when you arrive. We are happy to discuss who will be here 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 many items are not 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 Hawaii, the temperatures don't vary much, but there is seasonality. December through March is the "wet" season and April through November is the "dry" season. That being said, we can have no rain for weeks during the "wet" season, and it can rain every day for weeks during the "dry" season. Yea, crazy.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 mostly 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, weeding, grading pathways, farm chores, etc.

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

Believe it or not, when doing projects 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. We do strongly recommend wearing a hat and being mindful of sunburn.

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 rain coat and an umbrella if you wish. 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 you (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, find the color clue below 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, face-time and gaming ).

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 4 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 bedrooms are clean and uncluttered. Just off the bedrooms is a bathroom with a shower, toilet, sink etc.

There is also small kitchen with a big fridge, a two burner gas stove, a microwave, sink, etc. We ask that you clean up the kitchen after every use. The bathroom is a "shared" space with our son (21 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 indoors only. 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. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Do you have a cat and dog?

Yes, we have a dog and a cat, and while both want to come inside and are fairly clean, .... well, they are not that clean! So, we kindly ask you to shoo the dog and cat outside if they barge into your party. Why? Put simply, some people are allergic to pet dander and we wish to keep the volunteer's area clean.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Would there be an ongoing employment possibility?

We are a simple family farm, not a commercial business. We have no plans for any employment possibility here. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Smoking, drug usage?

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

We have only been on this land for a few years, 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. Many 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 (especially plastic) 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”. We are a 100% no-green-waste farm! Please help us continue to maintain our pledge to never send green waste to the landfill (where it creates methane gas and contributes to global warming).

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Animals

Other than the cat and dog, we have a dozen plus sheep 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 poop 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 20 (dry) gallons per month. Wow, you are such a fantastic reader! Please be sure to put the word "purple" in your application, so we know what an outstanding reader you are!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Qualifications & Requirements

We require that you agree to the terms as detailed here and in our "house rules". 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 of an incomplete profile.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Experience

No experience required!

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 round-trip 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 or Hilo bus stop (or another location in Hilo if you are already nearby). 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 7:00 am and 6:00pm.

We are a multi-cultural family leaning to the Asian side of things (food, customs, languages). We are still in the early stages of 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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The four weeks I was there I had a great time! 😊The work is a little hard but with the company of the other volunteers it becomes easier. The main problem is mobility since the bus stop is 1 hour away on foot and then the bus passes whenever it wants, but everything else is very good. Many thanks to Mey, Dave and Tair for everything and for trying to help me with everything.

16 dias atrás



I had a great time here! I loved how Dave took the time to explain how the farm works and he was helpful whenever I had questions. The house is nice and clean, and it was fun to hang out with the other volunteers & Tair. Only negative aspect was transportation - we were quite far up the mountain and getting around without access to a car was hard (hour walk to nearest bus stop and they’re quite unreliable). I loved being outside all day and I’d definitely recommend this!

27 dias atrás



I had a great time at Dave’s farm even tho I decided to leave a little early I’d recommend going there. The work is just as described, he’s very open and you can set your own schedule. His son is a very nice guy too. They made me feel welcomed my whole stay.

2 meses atrás



I really enjoyed my stay at daves farm. the work was doable and the working hours were flexible. I met the best people and could see a lot of the island (thank u to his son tair, who drove us around most of the time🫶). i recommend this farm a lot :)

3 meses atrás



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.

3 meses atrás

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