*Tickets On Sale Now* Pupus With A Purpose Event Series: The Wild and Invasive Ingredients of Hawaii

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Part of being a locavore is knowing what kind of foods grow where you live and when they are in season. When you start looking into the wild you can see what is thriving around you. These ingredients, when left up to nature, don’t need any help from us at all.

This month’s Pupus With A Purpose event will focus on ingredients that are Wild, Invasive and Delicious. Author, speaker and expert on wild edibles––Sunny Savage will be our special guest for the evening. You will learn which species of plants and animals are invasive to Hawaii and why it is important for us to reshape our relationship with them.

Sunny will provide many of the wild ingredients that you will find on your plate. You will get to hear the stories of how they got there and learn more about urban foraging. Sunny is currently working on a new app (slated to launch in 2020) that will enable you to find wild edible ingredients no matter where you are in Hawaii. You too can forage your own food and help manage invasive species!

Chef Sarah Burchard will work her magic with the ingredients Sunny forages along with wild and/or invasive meats provided by Jessica Rohr of Forage Hawaii. Her intention with the menu is to make these ingredients so enticing, that you are inspired to use them in your own cooking. Each pupu will comprise several wild ingredients combined with local ingredients grown on island by organic farms, and everything from the wild yeast fermented sourdough to hand cracked inamona will be made in house.

As always the purpose of this event is to support local, inspire you to think differently about where you source your food and encourage you to make choices from a conscious place in your heart, so that positive change can happen in our food system. Hope to see you there!

Event Details:

5:00 – Check in

5:15-6:30 – Talk Story with Sunny Savage + Pupus by Sarah Burchard

6:30-7:00 – Q&A with Sunny Savage and Jessica Rohr

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

About the guest speaker:

Sunny Savage is the author of Wild Food Plants of Hawai’i and the host of the show “Hot On The Trail with Sunny Savage.” Her TED talk “You can eat that — The gift of wild foods” has received over 9,000 views on YouTube. She is currently working on a new app called, “Savage Kitchen Edible Invasive Species,” a statewide mapping program  for 5 edible plants that grow invasively in Hawaii. As a seasoned traveler, having made it to all 7 continents, she has learned of the power of collaborative efforts to save our remaining biodiversity and to follow the lines of abundance that the earth still gives so freely when you know where to look. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics and a Master’s of Science in Nutrition Education, but has found that the education gleaned from listening to the plants and the people who love them to be her greatest teachers. Learn more about her at www.sunnysavage.com and follow her @sunnysavage on Instagram and Facebook.

About your hosts:

Jessica Rohr, founder of Forage Hawaii distributes high quality meats from local Hawaiian farms strait to the consumer through farmer’s markets and direct ordering. She partners with farms that use sustainable, humane and natural farming practices. Her mission is to make local meats more accessible to Hawaii residents and tell the story of their food sources. Jessica is an avid fisherman and slow-food lover with an endless curiosity about everything food related. Learn more about how you can purchase local meats at www.foragehawaii.com and follow her @foragehawaii on Instagram and Facebook.

Sarah Burchard, A.K.A. The Healthy Locavore, has been cooking professionally for almost 20 years. She is an advocate for family farms and embodies the phrase: support local. Her unwavering commitment to sourcing the highest quality ingredients, grown as nearby as possible, are only outshined by her attention to detail and dedication to providing an “under promise, overdeliver” approach to hospitality. Sarah’s respect for ingredients and the people who grow them, paired with her locavore sensibilities, inspires diners to connect with their community and environment. Sarah is also a writer, marketer and event coordinator active in both the yoga and farmers market communities on Oahu. In addition to supporting small businesses and hosting farm-to-table events she leads a regular farmers market tour in Kaka’ako to educate consumers about sustainable agriculture and the food security issues of Hawaii. Visit her blog The Healthy Locavore and follow her on Facebook @healthylocavore and on Instagram @healthylocavore & @yearofingredients to learn more about local food.

Pupus With A Purpose

Date: Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Location: Moku Kitchen – 660 Ala Moana Blvd. No. 145, Honolulu, HI 96813

Time: 5:00-7:00pm

Ticket Price: $49/person (+cash bar)

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

*SAVE THE DATE* Pupus With A Purpose Event Series: The Wild and Invasive Ingredients of Hawaii

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

Wed. March 27th | 5-7pm | Moku Kitchen Honolulu

In the mystical world of the wild Sunny Savage is able to connect. She has the innate ability to translate what is happening in nature, what is safe to eat and which plants have the capability to help us thrive. As an educator she teaches people how they can connect to the land through food and increases a sense of food security by showing us how to forage for ourselves.

Sunny has a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics, a Master’s of Science in Nutrition Education and has traveled extensively on all 7 continents foraging and learning about wild edibles along the way. She knows the medicinal benefits of these foods and the role they play in nature. She is the author of Wild Food Plants of Hawai’i, the host of the show “Hot On The Trail with Sunny Savage” and her TED talk “You can eat that––The gift of wild foods” has received over 9,000 views on YouTube. Her new app Savage Kitchen Edible Invasive Species, promising to link you to 5 edible invasive plants in your own back yard (that is, if you live in Hawaii), is slated to launch next year.

As advocates of sourcing wild and invasive foods it was only fitting we invite Sunny to be our special guest at the next Pupus With A Purpose event to help us continue our mission of creating conscious change in our food system.

We are thrilled to have her and hope you will save the date so you can experience her nurturing soul, the gifts of the wild and another deliciously informative  community gathering with The Healthy Locavore and Forage Hawaii.

Waiahole Poi Factory: A Roadside Stand Worth Stopping For

waiahole poi factory

waiahole poi factory

An afternoon cruise on the Windward side is not complete without a plate lunch at this local icon.

One of my favorite things to do with my husband on a day off, is pack a couple beach towels and a cooler and drive up the windward coast. After living here almost two years we finally made it to Waiahole Poi Factory last week.

Originally a poi factory in 1905, this institution has since turned into an art gallery, incubator kitchen and, about 10 years ago, back to a poi factory with a counter service restaurant serving some of the best traditional luau fare on island.

The historic building charms you the minute you drive up. A rusty, aluminum overhang wraps around the weathered wood façade that boasts their iconic sign. The vibe is laid back––vacationers and locals in bathing suits fresh from the beach. There are a dozen tables, mostly out front under umbrellas, but some inside sharing the space that houses local art and T-shirts for sale.

The line to order stays steady, but moves quickly. The friendly staff navigates tourists efficiently through the menu, so they won’t accidently order too much. You can order staples like Chinese long rice and Beef Luau as large or small combo plates, or as a side dish so you can mix and match.

My husband eagerly ran back to our cooler, to grab a couple beers, when the cashier gave him the green light. She said the only reason they don’t serve alcohol is because half the staff is too young to sell it.

waiahole poi factory

The lau lau is addictive. Succulent chunks of pork shoulder, salty butterfish and creamy kalo steamed to perfection. I recommend adding a splash of house-made chile water to every bite. Side dishes like lomi salmon, with its bright acidity reminiscent of pico de gallo, and crunchy ho’io salad–– quickly blanched and chilled fiddlehead ferns tossed with sweet onion, dried shrimp, tomato and shoyu dressing––balance out the richness of the main dishes.

Waiahole Poi Factory

The only dish that wasn’t as bold as the others was the kalua pig, but I still happily scooped up several bites of it with steamed rice dunking it in the chile water. Our meal was so satisfying; I’m already planning my next visit back.

Waiahole Poi Factory, 48-140 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, 239-2222, waiaholepoifactory.com.

How To Make An Omelette

how to make an omelette

how to make an omelette

Do you want to know how to make an omelette? You should!

From Escoffier to James Beard there is probably no ingredient, more highly revered by chefs, than the humble egg. Back in the day, Chefs had aspiring cooks prepare them an omelette to test their capabilities in the kitchen. If they passed the test, it meant they had that “chef’s intuition,” deeming them teachable.  At least that was the case back when I was in culinary school and apprenticing.

The heat of the pan, the amount of butter used and the technique of rolling and folding a true omelette takes finesse. It’s simple and difficult at the same time.

First, you have to have the right pan. I use an 8” non-stick classic fry pan. If you want something a little sexier you can use a seasoned French skillet made of carbon steel. Something with rounded sides…you’ll need that for the folding part.

James Beard will tell you to use two and a half eggs per omelette. I don’t know anyone who has a half an egg lying around, so I recommend three. I often eat breakfast alone, so I’m working with a single portion recipe here. Whisk your eggs with some fresh herbs (I like chopped thyme and parsley), a couple cracks of fresh black peppercorns and a hefty pinch of kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand if you want to look like a pro).

You’ll need butter…real butter of course…the good stuff. A tablespoon will seem like too much, until you use less and wish you had used more. Your pan must be hot, but not too hot. When the butter touches the surface, a bubbly sea type foam is what you desire, being careful not to let it brown. Just when you fear your butter may turn on you, pour in the eggs. This is where living in Hawaii has come in handy…I always have wooden chopsticks lying around. I grab a pair and whisk, whisk, whisk like the devil is chasing me, shaking my pan back and forth to create frantically fine ribbons. Once the eggs take on an appearance that looks less like something I’d sneeze into a tissue and more like a soft, creamy scramble, I take my chopsticks and draw a circle around the circumference of the pan, peeling the omelette away from the sides. Thin wispy edges reveal themselves and I know it’s time to start rolling.

Quickly, I grab a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano (I know….NOT so French of me. I have a thing for Italians…) and a microplane and make it rain all over the surface of the eggs. Drop that, pick the chopsticks back up and tilt my pan towards me while I lovingly encourage the edge of the omelette that’s closest to me to make its way over to the other side in the form of a burrito.

This is the test––when you find out if your pan was too hot or not hot enough, and whether or not your pan has been properly cared for. If the omelette rolls without sticking, you exhale for the first time since dropping your eggs in the pan, and continue to roll it right out of the pan on to a plate where I like to finish it with a dash of Aleppo Pepper for spice and smokiness. Grab a fork, and a glass of champagne, if you got it on hand, and sit back and savor one of the most simple and refined dishes on earth.

 

Ever attempt an omelette? What has your experience been? Tell us about it in the comments section. And if you liked this post I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more on how to eat local, live well, cook healthier and support each other. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it.

Digesting A Year Of Ingredients

On January 1st, 2018 I took on a personal project called “The Year Of Ingredients.” The goal was simple, find 365 ingredients grown in Hawaii.

I chose Instagram as my platform for the challenge. My job was to post an image of an ingredient every day with a caption of what it was and how to cook with it.

Learn more, about what inspired me to do this, here.

The ingredients could come from anywhere in Hawaii. They did not have to be organic, they just needed to be locally grown or produced with local ingredients.

year of ingredients
North Shore potatoes, raw honeycomb from Tolentino Honey Co., Banana Gabe’s banana bounty at the Variety Showcase

I gained a lot from this project: I got to form relationships with the people who grow my food, I learned about ingredients I had never seen or heard of before, I discovered local markets like The Locavore Store, and toured farms that often aren’t open to the public. Not to mention, establishing a daily writing routine.

Sometimes on tough mornings (last year was not the easiest) writing my daily Year Of Ingredients post was the only thing that motivated me to start my day. 

year of ingredients
Escarole, Mohala Farms

By completing this project I  found that there are way more than 365 ingredients growing in Hawaii. We can grow practically anything here with the right location and a strong enough desire. More small farms are stepping up to this challenge every day. Crops like peppers, once notoriously difficult to grow, are popping up at farmers markets and in locally made hot sauces in all kinds of varieties. 

year of ingredients
Counter Culture Farm

The Year of Ingredients took me on an epic culinary journey this year.

I’ve enjoyed hanging with the farmers, working the Go Farm program in Waimanalo, sampling ingredients ripped right out of the ground in front of me. Bryan and Natalie from Dela Mesa Farm, Priscilla from Vida Farm and Jacey and Miles from Roots and Remedies Farm have been amazing. 

farms and produce
Jay Bost (Go Farm), farmer’s market produce, Roots & Remedies Farm

I learned about new crop varieties being developed to thrive in Hawaii’s growing conditions at The Variety Showcase. I toured Ma’o Farms, spent hours photographing flowers and kale at Counter Culture Farm, learned about canoe plants at the Manoa Heritage Center,  attended farm-to-table dinners at Mohala Farms, sourced ingredients from all corners of the island from my laptop thanks to Farm Link and tasted freshly harvested honeycomb from Tolentino Honey Company. I’ve also learned about the struggles of processing meat and raising chickens in Hawaii and the need for harvesting wild deer and boar to help manage invasive species.

year of ingredients
Kahumana Farms radishes, Priscilla from Vida Farm harvesting puntarelle, Mangos from Kahumana Farm hub, Bryan showing us huitlacoche at DeLa Mesa Farm
Hawaii’s farmers, ranchers, fisherman and small business owners generously shared their bounty and knowledge with me. They are some of the kindest,  smartest and most humble people I’ve ever met. Their dedication to nurturing the land and waters of Hawaii goes beyond simply talking about sustainable practices, it is their life’s work. Getting to know them and their stories has been the most rewarding part of this experience. 
year of ingredients
Locally caught fish from Ashley at Local’Ia,

After a year of hunting I now have a good understanding of what ingredients are available locally in Hawaii and where to source them.  Most of all, I have an insurmountable feeling of gratitude for the people who grow them.

The Year of Ingredients has inspired me to know end.

I hope it did for you too.

year of ingredients
Ma’o Farms at the market and in the field

To see the complete project visit @yearofingredients on Instagram.

To stay up to date with my work and events subscribe to the Healthy Locavore Newsletter. 

Pupus With A Purpose Event Series: Food waste and natural farming

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

Purchase Tickets

About the event:

Talk story and Q&A presented by Jessica Rohr (Forage Hawaii) & Special Guest. Pupus provided by The Healthy Locavore

Our Mission is to educate consumers about sustainable Hawaiian agriculture and create conscious change in our local food system.

In this installment of Pupus With A Purpose we will be learning about the Korean Natural Farming method and tackling the topic of food waste with David Wong of Mountain View Farm.

Appetizers and beverages will be provided.

About the presenters:

Jessica Rohr, founder of Forage Hawaii distributes high quality meats from local Hawaiian farms strait to the consumer through farmer’s markets and direct ordering. She partners with farms that use sustainable, humane and natural farming practices. Her mission is to spread awareness about local farms, the nutritional benefits of natural farming and to make local meats more accessible to Hawaii residents.

David Wong of Mountain View Farm  is responsible for raising the pigs used for the Pono Pork brand (Founded by Bob McGee). He is an expert in Korean Natural Farming, and in addition to raising pigs, grows moringa for medicinal use on his 20 acre farm in Waianae. His farming techniques not only create zero waste, they also utilize waste generated from food businesses around the island.

The Healthy Locavore is a food and lifestyle blog and brand created by Sarah Burchard. Sarah is a natural foods chef, small business marketer, event planner and freelance writer based in Honolulu. She is fiercely dedicated to supporting her community, and sources locally grown and produced ingredients for all of her nutritious and culturally inspired dishes. In addition to hosting farm-to-table events she also leads tours at the Kakaako Farmers Market.

About the venue:

Impact Hub is a co-working, event, office, and community space in Honolulu designed to facilitate sustainable impact in Hawaii and abroad through collaboration and empowering communities.

They are located at:

1050 Queen St. #100 in Kaka’ako

Parking garage + limited street parking are available.

Tickets are $39/person and can be purchased here.

Thai Green Papaya Salad

thai green papaya salad

thai green papaya salad

In Thailand, where the flavors of spicy, sour, sweet and salty come together in pure harmony––attaining good balance is the goal. Thai green papaya salad exemplifies this balance.

In order to balance these nuances in a dish, you must be familiar with your ingredients. You want to create a blend of textures, aromas, flavors and temperatures that make each ingredient shine.

Here you have crunchy green papaya, soft fragrant herbs, spicy chiles, salty fish sauce, sour lime and a dash of sugar for sweetness.

thai green papaya salad

Thai food is vibrant, light, nutritious and delicious. And that is exactly how I would describe Thai green papaya salad.

It is customary, when preparing this dish, to pound the ingredients together using a mortar and pestle. If you do not have one, you can make the dressing in a food processor and pour it over the papaya, or chop the ingredients with a knife and mix them together in a bowl.

thai green papaya salad

Thai Green Papaya Salad

Since I have a shellfish allergy I do not make this salad with dried shrimp. If you want yours to be more authentic, add a pinch of dried shrimp to pound up with the other ingredients for the dressing. You can also use palm sugar instead of monk fruit sweetener here for authenticity. Monk fruit sweetener is lower glycemic and is touted as a "healthier" sugar.

Course Salad
Cuisine Thai
Keyword Thai green papaya salad
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 each Green Papaya approx. 1 1/2 lbs
  • 4 each Scallions sliced thin
  • 1/2 bunch Cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 bunch Mint leaves
  • 1/2 bunch Basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup Roasted & salted peanuts coarsely ground
  • 1 each Shallot sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic smashed
  • 1 each Chinese Long Bean (or 2 green beans) chopped
  • 1 each Red chili sliced
  • 1 pinch Sea Salt
  • 1 pinch Monk fruit sweetener
  • 1 each Lime juiced
  • 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce

Instructions

  1. Peel the papaya and cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Either grate the papaya using a box grater or julienne it with a mandoline.

    thai green papaya salad
  2. In a large bowl toss together the shredded papaya, scallion, herbs and peanuts. 

  3. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the shallot, garlic, long bean, chili, salt and sugar into a paste. Stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. 

    thai green papaya salad
  4. Pour the dressing over the papaya salad, toss to combine and serve immediately. 

  5. This salad can be held in the refrigerator and eaten later, but the papaya will start to soften and lose its crunch. 

Recipe Notes

For fish sauce I recommend Red Boat

Need a mandoline? Here's what I use. 

Want to try out Monk Fruit Sweetener? Try this.

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Elevated Polynesian Food: Poisson Cru

polynesian food poisson cru recipe

polynesian food poisson cru recipe

Some of the dishes prepared in Hawaii today are adapted from Polynesian food favorites. A perfect example of this is Poisson Cru, also called ‘Ota “ika, which originated from Tahiti.

Poisson Cru is similar to ceviche––raw fish marinated with citrus juice. Except, with Poisson Cru, coconut milk is also added to the marinade. Other typical ingredients that are mixed in with the fish are ginger, cucumber, onion and tomato.

In this preparation I use lemon, grapefruit, lemon grass and makrut lime leaves, instead of straight lime juice to create more complexity and brightness. I also use mango ginger instead of common ginger to impart fruitiness rather than spiciness. For spice, I use a few dashes of Sriracha sauce.

For the fish I use Uku, also known as Grey Snapper. You can find Uku locally caught in Hawaii. It is a mild, flaky white fish. I salt the fish before marinating it, which helps tenderize it.

This recipe makes three appetizer size portions. Or, as we call them in Hawaii, pupus.

Poisson Cru

This dish can be made using any type of fish, so use whatever is fresh and local. The mango ginger can be omitted if you cannot find it. You can also substitute a squeeze of lime juice for the market lime leaves if necessary. *Use local and/or organic ingredients whenever available. 

Cuisine Hawaiian, Polynesian food
Keyword Polynesian food
Servings 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Coconut milk unsweetened
  • 1 ea Makrut lime leaf fresh
  • 1 inch Lemongrass pounded
  • 1 tsp Mango ginger peeled and smashed
  • 10 oz Uku (Grey Snapper) large dice
  • 2 tsp Sea salt course
  • 1/2 cup Sweet onion sliced thin
  • 1 ea Lemon
  • 6 sprigs Cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1 sprig Basil stem removed, sliced
  • 1 ea Green onion sliced thin
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 ea Grapefruit segmented

Instructions

  1. In a small pot, over medium-low heat, warm the coconut milk, makrut lime leaf, lemongrass and mango ginger until it is hot, making sure not to bring to a boil. Set aside to cool completely.

  2. Toss the diced fish with the sea salt and let sit in the refrigerator for 15 min. 

  3. Rinse the fish well, removing all salt. Remove excess water. 

  4. Toss the fish with the sweet onion and juice from a half of lemon. 

  5. Strain the steeped and cooled coconut milk over the fish. Discard the makrut lime leaf, lemongrass and ginger. 

  6. Give the fish a stir in the marinade, and let it sit refrigerated for 1-2 hours. 

  7. Fold the cilantro, basil, green onion, Sriracha and grapefruit segments into the fish mixture. Give it a taste. It made need another pinch of salt and/or another squeeze of lemon. 

  8. Served immediately, nice and cold. 

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Saying Goodbye To My Culinary Hero: Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain

“I wanted to write in Kitchenese, the secret language of cooks, instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever dunked french fries for a summer job or suffered under the despotic rule of a tyrannical chef or boobish owner.”
― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

The world lost an amazing man today.

When I was 19, in culinary school and started working in restaurants, Kitchen Confidential came out and changed my life.

Cooking in kitchens became something to be proud of. Not because everyone started idolizing chefs and started paying more attention to them (which they did), but because it became so much easier to no longer give a shit about what others thought. Why you stopped hanging out on the weekends with your friends, why you started missing every family holiday, why you had burns all over your arms and didn’t care, why you decided against college and a “normal” life to work long hours, get dirty every night and destroy your body instead.

Kitchen confidential made me proud and excited to be entering into the restaurant industry. It made me understand it more clearly. The chapters, “Who cooks?” and “So you want to be a chef” had me smiling and nodding my head the entire time. This guy was speaking our language. A language that most people didn’t understand. I gave the book to my Mom to read when I first got into the restaurant industry, so she could understand. And she did. It probably saved us a lot of hard talks, and saved her a lot of hurt feelings and confusion.

“Line cooks are the heroes,” Anthony said. This statement made us feel like all the 15 hour days working for 12 bucks and hour was worth it. For practically all of us who were (or still are) cooks and chefs, it made us feel respected as professionals and not just the misfits that couldn’t (and didn’t want to) hack it in “normal” jobs or society in general.

He didn’t glamorize the disfunctionality of the restaurant business, he just called it like it was.

Anthony (or Tony as most chefs called him) not only inspired me to be a chef, but a writer too. He is a true master of words. He gave people like me, who had no formal education in writing and a colorful vocabulary, “permission” to write and throw and F-bomb out there, and not care what anyone else thought about it.

He is the reason chef memoirs are so popular and relevant today.

He is the reason we have travel food shows.

His respect for people’s cultures and food preparations taught America to start thinking outside the box, get off our soapboxes, shut our mouths and start learning from people from other countries. Because that’s how you become a better chef and a better person.

Even though I didn’t know Anthony, he was a mentor to me. He was a huge influence in my career, even still to this day, after leaving the industry. I feel like I lost a close friend. I definitely lost my culinary hero.

Rest in peace chef. You have left an eternal legacy that no-one will ever be able to replicate.

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My Trip To Ma’o Farms

Mao farms

Mao farmsI’ve never felt as warm and fuzzy about a farm, as I do for Ma’o Farms.

After shopping with them regularly, for a year at the farmers market, I finally made it over to Wai’anae for a farm tour.

Mao farms

Ma’o Farms is not your average farm. They are a non-profit with a mission to empower and train underprivileged youth to become entrepreneurs and leaders. They succeed at this while helping to create a healthier, more sustainable food system in Hawaii at the same time. It creates an opportunity for both the land and the community to thrive. I invite you to learn more about their social enterprise here.

Mao farms

We had two tour guides showing us around the 25 acre farm: Hiwa, the daughter of the owners of Ma’o Farms and Josh, who leads a small team of farmers, doing everything from harvesting to processing vegetables.

Ma'o Farms

We started the tour with a debriefing of sorts, similar to the way the farmers and interns start their day every morning. As we stood in a circle (symbolizing the seamless circle of life) we introduced ourselves, and talked about our intentions for coming on the tour and what we were there to learn.

Mao farms
A wall hand-made of rocks and soil lines the perimeter of the morning and evening gathering place.

The first stop was the green house where baby plants get their start. Many of the greens they plant out in the field, and even ulu (breadfruit) trees get their start here, before being transferred into the ground.

Ma'o Farms
Full grown ulu tree, just starting to bear fruit

The green house provides protection from pests and wind when these plants are still in their most vulnerable stages. Hiwa reminded us that Ma’o farms is situated right in the middle of a crater, which can act as a wind tunnel, with winds sometimes getting up to 50 miles per hour. Wind this strong would rip baby plants right out of the ground if planted to soon.

Mao farms

But, being in a crater has its advantages too. The type of soil here (vertisol)  is one of the top three most nutrient dense in the world. Because of its high clay content it gets rock solid and cracks when dry. These cracks allow for more water and nutrients to be absorbed and locked in when wet.

Ma'o Farms
There are 12 types of soil in the world. Ma’o Farms has one of the top 3 most nutrient dense types.

Ma’o has an interesting fertilizing system too. They use bonemeal made from fish bones and a method of burning weeds which puts nutrients back into the soil after harvesting. My imagination raced as Hiwa described a tractor driving through the fields with flames shooting out the back.

When asked if they ever worry about the infamous, rat lungworm disease that tends to affect organic farms in Hawaii, Hiwa said they didn’t seem to have many issues with it. This disease is carried by snails and slugs that like wet conditions, and since it tends to be drier where they are, they don’t often see them around.

Ma'o Farms

When it comes to pests, cabbage moths can be an issue for their kale. They use a natural citrus herbicide very sparingly for this, since it can cause the kale to turn yellow and create holes in the leaves.

Ma'o Farms
Sampling Lacinato kale straight out of the ground

Ma'o Farms
Lacinato kale, also known as dino kale or cavalo nero

When it comes to controlling weeds, Ma’o uses what they call a black weed mat. When the sun hits these mats, they heat up and essentially burn the weeds out.

Ma'o Farms
A black mat is used to control weeds

Ma’o used to be a huge chicken farm back in the day. The two former chicken coops are now processing plants filled with interns washing and packaging vegetables to be delivered.

Ma’o has the ability to track every seed they plant, all the way until they are delivered. It’s a food safety precaution. This way if someone were to get sick they could track back to the field where the plant was grown to find out if it had somehow been contaminated.

Ma'o Farms
The processing shed

Ma'o Farms
Baby red beets

Ma'o Farms
Baby carrots

On the way out we caught a glimpse of what Ma’o calls, “the chef’s garden”. Still in its early phases, this project will soon be available for local chefs to virtually choose what they want Ma’o to grow for their restaurants.

Ma'o Farms
The chef’s garden

Ma’o sells their produce wholesale to restaurants, at farmer’s markets, in local grocery stores and through their CSA program. CSA members often get the prime picks and speciality items that aren’t available to anyone else.

When we completed the tour we came back around to where we originally started––standing in a circle. Hiwa explained that, similar to the start of the day, they finish their day back in the circle to rehash the day’s work and plan for the next.

Ma'o Farms
What Michelle Obama has nicknamed “the Queens road”.

It was a reminder of  how much importance they put on the development of their interns, the thought that goes behind the running of the farm and the spiritual aspect of their organization.

It is truly admirable what Ma’o Farms provides for their people and for the land.

Ma'o Farms
The driveway leading into Ma’o farms is lined with kalo (taro), a sacred crop believed to be the original ancestor of the Hawaiian people.

Ma'o Farms
Ma’o Farms, a place rich in mana and built with love.

Have you visited Ma’o Farms? Tell us all about it in the comments section. And if you liked this article I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more on how to eat local, live well, cook healthier and support each other. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

Ma’o Organic Farms

86-148 Pūhāwai Rd.
Wai‘anae, Hawaiʻi 96792

808-696-5569