Aquaponics no ka 'oi. A small Mom & Pop backyard urban farm in Kahului, Maui, Hawaii. Less than 3 food miles (5 minutes) to the markets in Kahului and Wailuku. Guaranteed fresh. Local. Certified Organic. Non-GMO. No chemical pesticides.
Now offering our popular Certified Organic Butterhead Lettuce in Whole Foods Market in Kahului.
Try it in your next salad, sandwich, lettuce wrap, or just by itself for a burst of crisp freshness! The outside leaves are your butter lettuce greens, and the inside heart is crunchy and sweet!
We've covered all of our growing troughs with insect netting and wind blocks to keep out pests, resulting in a cleaner, more robust product. However, dust and very small pests sometimes manage to get through, so always wash your produce before eating.
Why is an organic farm in the center of Kahului such a big deal?
Well, look at it from my perspective. I was raised in an Upper Paia sugar plantation camp called Nashiwa Village, close to Paia School, just below the Holy Rosary Catholic Church. This was a thriving community back in the 1940's & '50's. We used a 4-door outhouse that shared a cesspool with 4 neighbors on the 4-corners of the lots. Open grey water ditches ran between houses, our drinking water system used a Bull Durham tobacco bag over the faucet for a filter and got muddy during rains. The plantation sprayed DDT in the air frequently to control mosquitoes. My Mother used a large metal tub with a wooden paddle over an open fire to wash my Dad's really oily clothes from working as a mechanic in Paia Mill. The plantation owned everything, the house, the land, our healthcare, and even us. The land was fertile, and most everyone had a garden. Fruit trees grew wild everywhere, and there seemed to be no lack of freely accessible food.
Then in 1960 we were enticed by A&B, the plantation owner, to relocate to the 6th increment subdivision of "Dream City" in Kahului (currently that older subdivision across Ka'ahumanu Avenue from Maui College). The plantation wanted Upper Paia back to grow sugar cane and to cut back on the expense of maintaining the plantation camps. "Dream City" was non-arable land built on sand dunes. The 6th increment was offered to us at the affordable price of 25 cents per square foot. What a deal. The 6th increment was scraped of its top layer along with the kiawe trees right down to the bedrock of pure sandstone. My Dad built the house that I currently live in with the help of friends and family. I later found that the pH of the "soil" was 8.4, pure coral sand. I remember helping my Dad try to crush the sandstone with pick and shovel for years to make a plantable top soil. My Dad came from a pineapple sharecrop family in Ulumalu before working at Paia Mill so he wanted to make things grow for food. Solid sandstone is pretty hard stuff, it will bend your digging tools. We also hauled truckloads of dirt and manure from Paia and upcountry to try to make the soil more arable. To some extent we succeeded, but the land has a tendency to go back to its native bedrock, sand, which is also a pH buffer. Plus where we lived, sand was always blowing over the land, creating sand berms and burying the more organic soil that we built up. It was a losing battle. But I never lost my connection to agriculture. I picked pineapple for five summers around my high school years, and I swung a cane knife as a seed cutter in the cane fields of Puna Sugar on the Big Island before they went out of business.
Of course there is a lot more to this story, but just let me say that I have never seen this land thrive with abundant plant life until I installed this aquaponics system. I also use the fish water to periodically fertilize my in-ground fruit trees. I believe that this is the future of small scale urban agriculture as we lose our arable land and water resources. The more people that do this on Maui the better. I see an agricultural cooperative where a lot of smaller urban and traditional farmers will be able to provide for much of the food needs of Maui and decrease our dependence on imported foods. If it can be done in Kahului, it can be done anywhere.
Read more in About Us.