Purchase Of Galbraith Estate Land Should Boost Area Farming

The long-awaited sale of the former Galbraith estate land in Central Oahu was completed last week to the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit organization focused on conservation and perpetuating Native Hawaiian culture.

The group then transferred the 1,732-acre parcel to the state Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). ADC acquired more than 1,200 acres while OHA got the remaining 500.

At an agreed-upon price of $25 million, the amount was paid from a combination of sources, including state general obligation bonds ($13 million), U.S. Army ($4.5 million), City and County Clean Water & Natural Lands Fund ($4 million), Office of Hawaiian Affairs ($3 million) and D.R. Horton – Schuler Division ($500,000). The Army’s share came from the Pentagon’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative, which is designed to help preserve land from development around military installations. The Galbraith land is near Schofield Barracks and its training areas.

“The purchase and protection of the Galbraith land for agricultural uses is game-changing for Hawaii,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “This will allow us to reduce our reliance on food imports and increase our food security. Preserving agricultural land and producing our own food benefits us as a society.”

George Galbraith, an Irish immigrant, acquired the land in the late 1800s, and the property was placed in a trust after his death in 1904.

Since then it has been used mainly for pineapple farming until 2004 when Del Monte ceased operations on the land. State laws preventing perpetuities eventually forced the same of the property.

Preparation of the land is expected to take several months until infrastructure for large- and small-farming operations with long-term licenses is completed. Irrigation will come from a plantation-era well and Lake Wilson. Also, the state Legislature approved $750,000 for irrigation planning and design.