Aloha Aina Workforce: Kunana Dairy & Farm

Charlie Cobb-Adams is employed through the Aloha Aina Workforce Program at Kauai Kunana Dairy and Farm as a construction and maintenance worker. He is getting his hands-on career transition experience in the orchard and pasture of a dynamic family farm in Moloaa.

Charlie in the shade of a rambutan tree in the Kunana orchards. He is always ready for anything: trim a tree, rappel a waterfall, make a trail through the underbrush….

Outdoorsman

Charlie is a trail expert by trade, and has extensive experience building and rebuilding trails throughout Kauai and Northern California. He’s the kind of guy who can disappear into the wilderness with no adverse repercussions to self or environment. He can take others into the wilderness for exploration and education. Charlie worked for the Hawaii State’s Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Division and has been a member of the Army Corps of Engineers in Sonoma, California. He was a forest ranger and a forest fire fighter. You can see him on the Science Channel in the second episode of Hacking the Wild, “Curse of the Jungle”. 

Most recently, Charlie was the owner and operator of Native Hawaiian Conservation and Hiking Expeditions, an exploration tour operation that took people into the Kauai jungle areas to do, among other things, rappel waterfalls. These adventures have been popular with celebrities and garnished international acclaim. However, since Covid has come, his tour company has seen a hiatus.

Covid Changes Things

Charlie’s resume is impressive, and that makes his covid story that much more upsetting. He has degrees and certifications galore, has worked hard – very hard in – and gained accolades and articles on his jungle prowess. Yet finding a job in the days of Covid is discouraging in the least and at the most can be impossible with a specialized field. More heartbreaking is his lack of government assistance in the form of stimulus checks or unemployment. Charlie is one of the 10,000 people (as of Oct 21) who has slipped through the cracks of the system.

When the Aloha Aina Workforce jobs were posted, Charlie jumped at applying. He chose farm maintenance work because it would be outside, and would give him a skillset that would grow his knowledge of the outdoors and apply it in new ways. He still finds himself working with trees, but for different purposes. The goats he is now concerned with are not wild mountain goats, but milk and cheese producers.

In the Orchards

Charlie’s main focus currently is pruning the orchard at the Moloaa branch of the Kunana Farm. He has many trees under his purview, and he finds that pruning fruit trees is vastly different than pruning forest trees. For fruit trees, the goal is to trim strategically to make as much fruit as possible. He has learned the way to trim the ironwoods lining the orchard so that the branches grow angled downwards to provide maximum windbreak.

He also spends time fence mending and brush trimming and doing the endless many tasks that keep an orchard healthy. Lining the fences at the Kunana Farm are goat runs populated by the Wooten’s goats, of course, part of the flock that makes the wonderful milk and cheeses. Charlie is learning about what they need in their habitat for food and shelter.

Charlie’s story is one of the many Covid-caused upsets for Kauai. Though Kauai has fared well in many ways, globally speaking, we are still faced with hardships and uncertainty. Programs like the Aloha Aina Workforce Program, internship programs, and more like these foster hope and recovery for our people. Getting back to work in needed fields makes people feel purposeful and valuable, healthy and happy – and we could all use a little more of that.

Find the CSA for Kauai Kunana Dairy and Farm at their website. You can check out Charlie on the show Hacking the Wild: Curse of the Jungle.

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