UH Hilo alumnus grows Hilo UrbFarm

Mikey Peirron’s Hilo UrbFarm is a small composting and food garden operation, located at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center.

By Edward Bufil.

Mikey Pierron stands in garden.
Mikey Pierron gives a tour of Hilo UrbFarm to Ag 24 students.
Garden with raised beds, flats, area covered overhead with tarp.
Hilo UrbFarm, a small composting and food garden operation, is located at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center.

Looking at a package of basil from Maui, a revelation hit Mikey Pierron: why is Hawai‘i island not food sustainable? This revelation gave rise to Hilo UrbFarm, a small composting and food garden operation, located at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center.

Composting is a key practice in island sustainability. Hilo UrbFarm develops compost from paper wastes, mulch (from the County Greenwaste facility), and food scraps from local vendors including the Locavore store, Conscious Culture Café, Hilo Sharks Coffee, and Loved by the Sun. By taking greenwaste that would otherwise be added to the near-capacity landfill, Hilo UrbFarm produces compost that will aid the growth of a variety of food crops.

Hilo UrbFarm also grows a variety of herbs and food crops.

Herbs, including sage, basil, and dill, will be started in pots and trays, and then transplanted into raised garden beds. These crops will be sold to local businesses, farmer’s markets, or donated to local food banks or charities. Potted plants are also available for purchase at some local businesses including Shark’s Coffee and the Locavore store.

In addition to compost and herb growing, Hilo UrbFarm has a deeper focus: community building and involvement.

“The overall goal of the project [Hilo UrbFarm] is to get more people into composting by offering workshops and tours of the nursery and to show them examples of how they can be involved in reducing the waste generated by the community,” says Pierron.

Pierron is a recent graduate of the University of Hawai‘i College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management with a focus in Tropical Plant Science. Aside from Hilo UrbFarm, Pierron has also been involved Let’s Grow Hilo!, a part of the Hilo Improvement Program, which focuses on community garden in downtown Hilo.