Who We Are
Diana Duff is our director of operations. She has spent over 20 years farming and marketing organic coffee, bananas and vegetables on a 3-acre Kamehameha Schools’ lease in Honaunau. During her years of farming, Diana has had hands-on experience with many USDA programs that benefit farmers. She now wants to help others reap the benefits of conservation cost-share programs, crop insurance and FSA assistance. Diana holds degrees in English, Education, and Horticulture and is a graduate of the UH Agricultural Leadership Program. Combining her education and her experience, Diana continues to teach numerous classes in gardening and farming in Hawaii. Diana has coordinated community agricultural and horticultural education programs in Hawaii for the Kona Outdoor Circle, the UH Master Gardener Program, the Kona County Farm Bureau, Hawaii Community College, and Tropical Edibles Nursery. Writing a weekly gardening column for West Hawaii Today, Diana has been advising growers on ways to grow healthy plants and healthy food for over 10 years.
Kathy Vass is our plant consultant. She has degrees in history and horticulture. For over 20 years, Kathy ran her own landscape design and contracting company on Long Island. As a lecturer in horticulture and gardening, she has given presentations to civic organizations as well as the New York Botanical Garden. She currently owns a 5-acre Kamehameha Schools farm lease in Keauhou mauka where she grows a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as coffee, mac nuts and vanilla. She also is an experienced bee keeper. Her wide knowledge and experience with landscape plants, and her understanding of crops suitable for Hawaiian farms makes her role as our team’s plant advisor an important one. She is continually adding to her extensive list of crops. The list also includes advice on where and how to grow the plants. Kathy is passionate about sustainable agriculture and dedicated to helping Hawaii become more food self-sufficient.
Sara Moore is our livestock and timber consultant. Sara is a lifetime resident of Hawaii and a graduate of the UH Hilo College of Agriculture in Tropical Crop Production with an emphasis in weed science, pest management, and grazing land management. She currently manages a cattle ranch in South Kona where she has been employed for the last 26 years, building her extensive land management skills. She has overseen the incorporation of timber and fruit crop production into the ranch for diversification. A true cowgirl, Sara often brings orphaned livestock home, rearing them to good health and viability. She also is a skilled manager of a working team of ranch dogs that are invaluable to the operation. Sara recently expanded her personal business into raising rabbits. Her experience and working knowledge of incorporating livestock of all kinds into farming and ranching activities makes her a particularly good advisor on adding value to a farming operation.
Melanie Bondera is our farm and business planning consultant. She can also assist with organic certification and grant writing. Her Master’s Degree in International Agriculture Development is from UC Davis and she has 25 years of experience in tropical agriculture. Working in Sierra Leone, Haiti and Thailand expanded her knowledge of tropical cropping systems and agroforestry. For the last 15 years Melanie has been involved in farming and marketing products from her certified organic farm in Honaunau. The farm produces coffee, avocado, non-GMO papaya, cacao and a variety of perennial vegetables. During the last 5 years Melanie worked with the Kohala Center, advising farmers on project feasibility and plans, farm capitalization, adding value and marketing. She also launched Hawaii’s Cooperative Development Center and developed an agricultural business development team. She continues, in many ways, to pursue her passion to help rebuild Hawaii’s food system.