Bobby Pahia and his diverse network of farmers and farm supporters are working to solve a profound problem: How can Native Hawaiians and kama’aina on Maui and across these islands once again have poi, ulu and other locally grown produce on their tables every night?
They know answering this question will reap benefits in many important ways. Hawai’i Taro Farm and its hui of family farmers aim to create a network of growers and a centrally located hub with processing and food distribution facilities.
We’re all in this together because “We all need to eat.”
- Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) Maui residents say they have had to cut back on food and groceries in the past year because they were short on money. This is one of many reasons why food sovereignty and security for Maui is a high priority.
- A Native Hawaiian, Robert Pahia has a vision to create an abundant, equitable, local food system that fosters the people and the ‘aina. He purposely recruited farmers of all races and backgrounds to help seed the path of justice and equity for those most vulnerable.
- This “farm to front door” effort is part of the larger Waikapu Country Town development, parks, open space, and a elementary school.
- The developer, Mike Atherton of Waiale Partners, is dedicated to creating a 910 acre agricultural preserve, which includes the 310 acres where our ohana of 23 farmers are actively farming. Mike is allowing the farm to tap into water and sewerlines through his development project.
- WCT wil be a “complete community,” encompassing a mixture of rural, single-and multi-family residential units, commercial, and civic uses. In a accordance with the Maui Island Plan (MIP).
- The town will be bound by agricultural lands that will be preserved in perpetuity through a conservation easement. WCT will be built both mauka and makai of Honoapi’ilani Highway. Access to the project will be from Honoapi’ilani Highway and the proposed Wai’ale Bypass Road.
- The Waikapu Country Town projct calls for 1,433 single-family, multi-family, and rural units, as well as 146 ohana units; 200,000 square feet of commercial space; 82 acres of parks and open space; 8 miles of sidewalks, paths, and trails; a 12-acre elementary school, and a 910-acre agricultural preserve.
- The plan is to establish distribution channels across Maui and, eventually, all Hawai’i to create a robust locally grown, Hawaiian-inspired food network that connects people with their culture, improves health and well being, heals the land, and sustains the people.
- We will work hard to ensure that as many neighbors have their hands in the dirt as possible, given the wide range of physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of farming.
“The MANA is in the OHANA” : About Our Farming Community
The power is in the family… farmers!
- Our farmers have a range of backgrounds – Hawaiians, Filipinos, Tongans – all with one goal in mind: to feed their families and their communities.
- The transition from the plantation era to an era of food security across Hawai’i will require the power of small family farmers restoring food security for their immediate family first and then scaling up their operations to ensure a surplus of food reserves that can feed beyond their immediate family and friends.
- By recentering the family farmer as a source of sovereign food security, and creating economies of scale, we can begin to release our dependence on imported foods and improve the health of our residents with fresh, nutritionally sense, and affordable food that was grown by farmers that we know as our neighbors, our friends, our extended family.
- Hawai’i Taro Farm was created by Bobby Pahia and his ohana in 2009, but Uncle Bobby was growing kalo on Maui long before then. Raised in rural O’ahu, the green-thumbed Hawai’i an moved to Maui the 1980’s to work for the University of Hawai’is College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources as an agricultural technician. For years, Pahia worked at the Kula Agricultural Research Center learning and developing best practices for taro production. He has 20 years of farming experience in a variety of crops including taro, vegetables, bananas, sweet potatoes, and melon.
- Hawai’i Taro Farm has harvested over one million pounds of taro, producing 4,000 pounds per harvest. Working with 23 other farmers on 310 acres, Uncle Bobby and his team are using regenerative agricultural methods to repurpose the former plantation lands.
- Each farmstead within the HTF collective of family farms contributes in a unique way, based on the culture they inherited. To cover the range of available resources and strategies for agriculture development in Maui, a new nonprofit organization is being formed to increase the range of educational and other cooperative partnerships available to this effort, and to partner with the County’s new Department of Agriculture.