A Season of Momona

raw kalo

lots of kalo

I love this time of year. It usually happens around Halloween that we feel a distinct shift in season. The breeze feels different. It’s very ʻoluʻolu or nice on the skin. It cools down a bit and makes you want to pull out your favorite sweatshirt and snuggle up in a cozy blanket. Okay, it’s still 77 degrees but it’s the notion of the shift that brings excitement in the atmosphere. It’s time to make a favorite soup and start preparing for the holidays. My soup pot has been working overtime lately. I love this!

This shift has made me contemplate the change in seasons we are experiencing at Kapalai and as an organization. We’ve gone through many seasons since starting out on this journey 12 years ago to create a community-gathering place and restore a desolate land back to abundance. We had a long desert season as we began the arduous task to clear the land with no resources except the many generous hands that faithfully came to help us muck through the mud. For 3 years after the formation of our 501c3, we pursued foundations for support so that we could start formal programming for youth. Many doors were shut in our face. People thought we were crazy! Many times we found ourselves pondering the fact that we might have made a big mistake. The weeds in the loʻi seemed to grow faster than we could pull them out. Every obstacle that could come our way did. It became humorous and discouraging all at once. But we kept our eyes focused on the big picture and knew that we had been called to do this work for a purpose. If God called us to take on this task, then he would provide. We believed this wholeheartedly and saw little hōʻailona (signs) along the way to help encourage us to keep on the right path.

Recently we have felt the shift. We are officially in a new season – a season of momona.

Momona – Fat, fertile, rich, abundant, sweet.

field of kalo

At Kapalai – We planted our first kalo 8 years ago with only one patch cleared. We tried 15 different varieties, different planting styles, and various organic soil preparations. The hardest part was waiting 12 months to see if your guess worked. The corms we were harvesting were tiny, barely the size of a fist. They were loli, full of pocket rot, not worthy to share with others. Our soil was clearly unhealthy after 80 years of being dormant and overgrown with weeds. It’s taken many years, many trials and lots of perseverance but today we are harvesting the most beautiful Moi Kea kalo at the moment. The corms are enormous and sweet, yielding almost 5 pounds each. We projected a yield of 1500 pounds in a 2000 square foot patch. Instead, the harvest will yield over 4000 pounds – Momona!


For Hoʻokuaʻāina – I mentioned the desert season earlier. Things began to change in 2014 when Consuelo Foundation asked us to partner with them. With their support, we were able to build capacity and gain the respect of other foundations who have watched us grow into a healthy, stable organization. We now have the support of Consuelo, Office of Youth Services, Castle Foundation, Hawaii Tourism Authority and an exciting new partnership with Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation. Last week was the kickoff. For the next 5 years, we have the privilege to work with HML and a cohort of 8 other value aligned organizations to collaborate on ways to make more of a collective impact in the lives of youth. Joining us are legends from the first cohort and some of our most treasured heroes. Eric Enos, co-founder of Kaʻala Farm in Waiʻanae, and Gigi Cocquio, founder of Hoa ʻĀina o Mākaha, David Fortes, founder of Kahua Paʻa Mua in Kohala, all pioneers who were thought to be crazy outlaws but persevered and paved the way for us to do the work we are doing today. 30 years ago there were few doing this work. Now the growing movement is gaining momentum and strength. It’s becoming momona. It is a privilege to be invited to sit at the same table with many of our peer organizations as we ride this wave of abundance together.
We know seasons change but while it’s here we are going to enjoy this sweet, fat, fertile, rich one with extreme Thanksgiving! May this season also be momona for you, your ʻohana and all that you do!

Me ka mahalo nui, (with lots of thanks),