Hookuaaina Rebuilding Lives From The Ground Up

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Hoʻokuaʻāina Blog

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Hoʻokuaʻāina Blog

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Hoʻokuaʻāina Blog

On The Farm Q2 2019

Things tend to grow faster in the summer sun and here at Kapalai that fact holds true. We are only halfway through the year and we have already harvested 11,408 pounds of kalo. Spring and early summer are always busy times for us with everybody trying to get poi, kalo, and luau leaf for their graduation parties. The vast majority of our kalo goes to individual community members and families. We take pleasure in knowing that more and more people are craving kalo and want to include this nutritious staple in their everyday diet.

Our lo’i space itself is growing as well; we have begun to clear out our newest patch which will put us at a total of 22 patches in kalo production. This new lo’i is being built out largely by the boys in our mentoring program and will be named Ke Kama Pono in their honor. Ke Kama Pono is a residential program run by Partners in Development that has been participating in our Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program for three years now. An average of 14 boys per quarter visits weekly to learn and practice Hawaiian values through the growing of kalo. It is always a joy to watch these boys as they learn and grow themselves throughout their time here. I’ve seen boys who enter the program not wanting to do any work at all and as they begin to feel accepted and let their guard down, they become proactive in looking for work and asking how they can help. Some even challenge themselves to go beyond the norm and strive to do quality work. Each of them is valued and considered an important part of our ʻohana here at Hoʻokuaʻāina. They contribute much to the overall health of the loʻi. It is only fitting that they have a patch named after them.

Even our staff has grown as we have added 9 summer interns to our crew to bring our total number of interns to 15. Coming from all over the island and even from the mainland United States and attending university at various schools, these passionate individuals are all here for the same reason: to connect to ‘āina, be a part of a community, and learn about growing kalo. They are all proving to be good workers and bring great energy to the team. We love having new faces, new ideas, and fresh hands to help us with all our work and are looking forward to a great summer with them!

Zack Pilien, Farm Manager

Written By Zack Pilien,
Farm Manager

Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program

This quarter we said goodbye to a handful of participants as they completed their time in our weekly mentoring program and have now returned home to their families. It is always sad to see them go but the ultimate goal is for them to transition out of the program, reintegrate with their families, and practice living life equipped with some of the skills they have gained over the course of their time with us. Our next wave of participants was welcomed early this summer and is transitioning into the program nicely. With the shifting of the tide, we returned to our grounding lesson, Nani Ke Kalo (Beautiful the Taro). Rooted in the overall value of respect, the theme of Nani Ke Kalo is used as a guiding principle of all interactions done in and around the lo’i. Respect starts from within. Loving and caring for oneself is needed in order to be able to care for anything else. It’s always nice to regroup and remind ourselves how we should carry ourselves not only around kalo, but in our everyday interactions. Uncle Dean’s favorite analogy is, “You know when you’re driving down the road and someone cuts you off. You get mad and want to throw them the extra special shaka sign (insert fun Uncle Dean facial expression). Instead just think to yourself, “Nani Ke Kalo” and take a breath.”

When asked, “How do you practice Nani Ke Kalo towards yourself”, we heard answers such as, “I take a shower every day” or “I brush my teeth.” As time goes on, awareness and respect towards themselves, peers, mentors, and the places they encounter increases. The answers change to reflect having more respect for the land and striving to be the best they can be. These are the milestones we look for and celebrate.

At the end of last quarter, as a celebration of their hard work, they had the opportunity to ku’i kalo. For many of them, this was their first experience pounding poi and for some even their first time tasting paʻi ʻai. One of the boys shared, “I never knew I liked poi until I came here.” – another landmark and cause to celebrate for us to watch the kids develop a taste for traditional and nutritious staple foods that they grew themselves.

We ended the quarter clearing the last of the hau in the very back of the property to build out our second to the last patch. The main project the new participants will be working on this next quarter is building out this new patch that will be named in their honor upon completion. We want all participants to know that they are forever connected to this place and have great value in our ʻohana.

Internship Program

We kicked off our 10-Week Summer Internship program in June with 6 awesome young adults who all share a desire to learn more about the Hawaiian culture, the production of kalo, gain job skills they can take into future careers, and connect to the land and community. We also welcomed the first 4 participants of the new Hoʻokuaʻāina Apprenticeship, a collaboration with Windward Community College to offer a unique hands-on leadership training program for students interested in ʻāina based work. They will work with us weekly for the next two years as they pursue a specialized certificate in Ahupuaʻa Sustainability and a 2-year degree of their choice. In just the last few weeks, they’ve interacted with our community groups, participated in various farm activities ranging from harvesting, to weeding, and the production of poi. It’s safe to say our summer has been productive and fun. It is always hard for us as we near the completion of the summer session. Deep relationships have grown and it will be hard for us to say goodbye to the 6 finishing the program. But they all know they always have a place to return and to call home at Kapalai.

Kupuohi Education Program

Aloha kākou! The new school year is just around the corner and before it begins we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the exciting year we had in our Kupuohi Education Program. This past school year we had the privilege of hosting amazing kumu (teachers) and haumāna (students) from a variety of educational institutions reflecting Hawaiʻi’s diverse public, private, and charter schools.

As we reflect on the year, it is clear that we are rich in relationship and that we as a program and an organization value deep connection. The shifts we have made to truly prioritize multiple visits and the inclusion of ʻohana days provide opportunities for students to connect not only with one another and their kumu, but with their families, with ʻāina, and with us. The way students are incorporating lessons from Hoʻokuaʻāina in their end-of-year presentations and school events speaks both to the depth of their learning as well as the depth of their connection with our organization and with Kapalai itself. We look forward to continuing these partnerships next year and to the new opportunities that lie ahead.

Here are some highlights of the year:

Over the course of the year many of our participating schools visited the loʻi four times with various lessons leading up to our final lesson, ‘Āina Momona which focuses on the link between the health of ʻāina and the health of kānaka (people) through traditional food preparations. After spending the previous three quarters learning how to work and care for the ʻāina, students in the program learned about traditional and contemporary ways of preparing kalo to be eaten and were able to enjoy the kalo they have been caring for all year. As part of the final culminating lesson, we held several kuʻi demonstrations with students from various participating schools including Mālama Honua Public Charter School, Hālau Kū Māna, and Blanche Pope Elementary School.

As we rounded out the school year, we saw an increase in the number of invitations our education team received to attend off-site school visits and events. Many of our students have been showcasing their learning both on campus as well as in other venues. At their school’s third trimester hōʻike, Mālama Honua’s 1st and 2nd-grade students shared their Hoʻokuaʻāina-inspired book and film, “The Wonderful Kalo,” an adaptation of Shel Silverstein’s, “The Giving Tree.” While planning this final project, the students were adamant about coming to Kapalai to do the filming, and, according to Kumu Piiohia, were upset that she had suggested they film at a location that may have been a bit more convenient. In late May, we connected with students, kumu, and ʻohana in preparation for Blanche Pope Elementary’s 6th grade Holomua (graduation) ceremony, at which Dani, our education director, was asked to be the keynote speaker. What an honor it was to share with families about the tremendous year of learning we have had with their kids. Earlier in the spring, we went to support the same 6th graders from Blanche Pope Elementary at the CAS (Complex Area Superintendent) and Principal Hōʻike. These students shared about their experience with Hawaiian culture, ʻāina, and place-based learning, and spoke about the need for these opportunities in our schools, highlighting Hoʻokuaʻāina as one of their kumu and community partners.

Overall, we are encouraged by the shift we see in our Windward Complex Areas schools and the great interest they are showing in wanting to participate in ʻāina and culture-based programming. It seems from administration down to the classroom there is an increased desire on the part of the schools to get their students outdoors and exposed to the many excellent programs being offered at various aloha ʻāina community partner sites. After the school year finished, nearly 50 CAS, principals, administrators, and counselors from the Kailua-Kalāheo Complex Area visited our space to learn about our programming. There were many important connections made and it was clear that the intention of the school leaders is to seek out more opportunities to get their students into these spaces more frequently. Many of them expressed thanks for being a part of such a special day. We were encouraged by their enthusiasm and look forward to new connections in the following school year.

Results from our end of year survey:

Dani Espiritu, Education Specialist

Written By Dani,
Education Specialist

Reflections from an Intern

Our internship program has become a vital part of our organization. 10-15 interns spend 10 weeks with us over the course of the year, some stay for the entire year. The hardest part for us is building close relationships with these young passionate individuals and then having to say goodbye when it is time for them to move on with their life endeavors. Amaris spent 2 sessions with us and was a regular volunteer for several years prior. This spring she was accepted to nursing school in New Mexico. We miss her dearly but are so happy for the opportunities that lie ahead. She shares a bit about her experience with us in the following reflection.

April 17th, 2019

Hoʻokuaʻāina may be the best work environment I will ever experience. The voices of my co-worker’s rhyming cultivation with fertilization became as familiar as the feeling of lepo between my toes. The warmth of the Wilhelm ʻohana manifested itself in generosity. Wherever they go it’s a paʻina. From the excitement of community day to rubbish bins of weeds, I loved it all.

In my opinion, one of the most special things about this lo’i is that each person learns they are sacred and that work is good. Sacred because you feel close to your Creator and the people with whom you work make you feel special. Work becomes a privilege, not only because you are under the beautiful shadow of Olomana, but the work performed is a blessing to other people. As embodied beings, working in the dirt and being challenged physically is very satisfying because it affirms a facet of our humanity. Work may not always be fun but the social environment at Hoʻokuaʻāina is one of spurring each other on to become better learners.

I felt honored to work in the loʻi. Being haole I am keenly aware of moments where I am able to listen to, learn from, or participate in Hawaiian culture. Sometimes my co-workers would speak with one another in ʻolelo Hawai’i and for those few minutes it felt like the weight of Hawaiʻi’s painful history with western arrogance was lifted. The loʻi at Kapalai is reordering and restoring ʻāina and kamaʻāina.

As I write, my hard-won calluses on my hands are peeling away due to lack of shoveling. What I have learned in the past six months is that: 1) the art of mahiʻaiʻana (cultivation) is something I can do wherever I go, 2) the vices you allow to grow in your life may steal life away like the weeds steal from the kalo, 3) the triangular relationship between Akua, kanaka, and ʻāina will always be relevant, 4) my story matters, so I will carry myself with dignity, and 5) a legitimate measuring order is “one shovel plus one and a half shakas.”

Amaris Capen Intern 2018-2019

Written By Amaris Capen
Intern 2018-2019

Hele On To Kauaʻi

Hookuaaina Interns on Kauai in Kalo Field for Cultural Exchange

Huakaʻi – Staff visit to Kauaʻi

An important aspect of our internship program is professional development. Throughout the year we provide workshops on various subjects such as financial literacy, grant writing, nonprofit organizational development, and food safety. Once or twice a year we offer opportunities for our entire staff to visit neighbor islands and learn from peer organizations. Our spring trip was to Kauaʻi where we had the amazing opportunity to visit several loʻi kalo, connect with the farmers and community in that area, and learn about their different methods of farming and production. Our time was rich and full of meaningful connections. Here is one reflection from our intern Kealohi to give you an idea of the impact the experience had on our staff.

A Reflection from Kealohi

Our trip to Kauaʻi was a huge blessing that I am so grateful to have been a part of. Working at Hoʻokuaʻāina has definitely opened my eyes to the value of community, sense of place and being future-focused. With this basically being my first trip to the Garden Isle, it was nice to see her through a mahiʻai perspective. I think it allowed me to appreciate it in a different way than I would have, had I visited with family and stayed at one of the hotels.

Visiting mahiʻai on Kauaʻi exposed me to more ways of mahiʻai. Coming from farmwork at Hoʻokuaʻāina–shovel, machete, chainsaw, handtool–I had a shift in perspective on what farming can be like depending on your ʻāīna. In Waimea, ʻOlokele, and Hanalei, there were all types of machines and trucks that could be driven around to get the tasks done. I’m not even familiar with the names, but now I understand how such large ‘āina can be worked with maybe just two people.

Upon reflecting with Zack while weeding Kawaʻa patch yesterday, he shared how this trip reconfirmed how we are in the people business. And as I write this, it makes me reflect on how we do things at Hoʻokuaʻāina.

Initially, after seeing all the machinery and driveable loʻi and kuaauna, a great focus for a commercial based farm, like any farm, is efficiency. I think of how easy it would be if we could drive a golf cart with the hundreds of pounds of raw kalo orders, instead of hauling it in 30-pound buckets. Or even having excavators to clear new patches and not planting puʻepuʻe style (mounded) to have fewer weeds. But if we didn’t have all these tasks, we wouldn’t be able to create a space for the community to grow the people, in the way we do. We would just be growing kalo. We rely on groups and extra hands to help us out in huge tasks like weeding a patch, cleaning kalo, and clearing ‘āina. Now I see why the ʻāina is the way it is for us; the ʻāina knows we need the weeds and hau bush because the ʻāina suits what we strive to do as an organization…With mahiʻai kuleana in these moments of lima hana, we are truly able to “rebuild lives from the ground up.”

Another favorite memory of mine was the waʻa blessing for the Kilohana Canoe Club. When we talk about a sense of place and community, it was humbling to see how a blessing of a canoe brought the families of that ʻāina to Lucy Wright Park in Waimea. It was more than just a new canoe…it allowed for fellowship, ‘oli, pule, testimony, and aloha. I’m quite an emotional person, so I wasn’t surprised when I teared up frequently in seeing how these keiki held themselves, grounded and proud of their culture through their chants, posture, and respect for the blessing.

My takeaway from this blessing was a commitment from everyone in attendance, to be focused on the keiki and their futures. Reflecting back on my time playing volleyball, I felt like I foresaw how impactful the journey of being a paddler would be for these keiki, as being a volleyball player was for me. After playing for almost half of my life, that sport allowed for so many relationships and life lessons to be developed and learned. Seeing this waʻa blessing and me being there side by side with the kamaʻāina of Waimea and Kilohana Canoe, I felt yet another source of commitment to holding myself to being future-focused for these very keiki and other keiki in Hawaiʻi.

When I had the chance, I asked every kalo farmer I met, “so, do you eat kalo a lot?” Majority of them answered no. At first, I was like, what?!? But then I compared it to when I was the sausage fryer for my aunty’s catering business, and yeah, after doing that position every Saturday for about a year, that sausage isn’t my first choice either…except some of these farmers been doing it for almost their whole life! Nuts. Maybe I didn’t really need to ask them that question.

But on a serious note, returning to Oʻahu allowed me to share every nook and cranny of the trip with my family. A conversation I have been pushing with my ʻohana, is how can we incorporate more ʻāina foods into our diet. Our family eats healthy, we don’t farm kalo where we live, but now, let’s make kalo or poi, a dish we see on the table maybe twice a week, instead of twice a month. For one of our breakfasts, Uncle Dean made us a simple stir fry with pork, kalo, and palula (leaf of sweet potato), and gosh that was so good! Even Aunty Chris prepared a small kalo dish with coconut oil, diced up kalo, garlic and onions–hooo it was ʻono! It’s little things like that I know we can do in my house, to incorporate ‘āina foods regularly, or replace maybe spinach or a potato, with the foods our ancestors ate. It’s about normalizing.

This trip made me grateful. I came home with a new appreciation for those kalo farmers who make it possible to have a love for poi as I do, and probably as many do. It may not be their first choice to eat, but they farm it because they have to. I’m grateful for all coaches, organizations, supporters out there like Kilohana Canoe Club, who create opportunities for our keiki to develop, grow, learn so they are equipped when it’s time to pass the torch. I’ll even mahalo the weeds at our loʻi from now on, for providing us with “taropy” and to be in the people business. Here’s to continuing to do the work we do, and to welcoming all the aloha that comes with it.

Written By Kealohi, Year-Round Intern

On The Farm Q1 2019

Duck Eggs On The Farm

There is an old Chinese proverb that Uncle Dean shared with us that goes something like this, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.” Not only as mahiʻai (farmers) but as kānaka (people) we need to always be thinking ahead. We’ve grown comfortable with being able to run to the store at any time of day knowing that the shelves are always stocked full. With this disconnect from the ʻāina, we have forgotten that ʻaʻohe hua o ka maiʻa i ka lā hoʻokahi, bananas do not fruit in a single day. The same goes for lettuce, tomatoes, ʻulu, and even kalo for that matter. Being that kalo takes about a year to grow, if we want kalo today, we should have been thinking about that last year. But if we plant today, we are ensuring that we will have kalo for the future.

Rachel planting with Pope Elementary

As much as we try to, we can’t really anticipate how each year will be in terms of supply and demand of kalo. Sometimes the kalo grows good, sometimes it doesn’t. But in regards to demand, we can analyze the previous year to predict the upcoming one. In 2018 the demand for kalo had accelerated to more than we could have possibly imagined. Just the year before we had received very few orders and found ourselves encouraging as many people to buy kalo as we could. In 2018 we saw a huge transition as we actually had to start turning people down because of too many orders. We were pulling kalo almost every single day and moving thousands of pounds every month. We were providing the community with a large quantity of kalo but this still was not enough to keep up with the demand. In 2017 we had not anticipated this sudden spike and so we had not planted enough kalo for 2018. This year we’ve been preparing ourselves for a continual increase in demand and have made it our goal to plant two patches every month in hopes to supply you all with kalo year round. So far this year we have already produced 2,869 pounds of kalo combined through raw kalo sales and poi production days. Unfortunately high demand and lowered yields have led us to cease poi production for the time being. When exactly we will be able to resume poi days has yet to be determined, but we will be sure to inform our faithful community.

There is only so much kalo we as Hoʻokuaʻāina can produce. But we can teach others how empowering it is to grow your own food and we can encourage them to do the same. It is never too late to start. Even if you won’t reap the immediate benefits, you will be planting seeds for your children and their children. Remember, the best time to plant has already passed, but the next best time is NOW!

Kukuluhou Boys Clearing Their Patch

Cutting back on poi production and overall kalo harvests has afforded us the time and resources to focus on other essential farm tasks instead. Our loʻi are overall well maintained, weeded out, and up-to-date on fertilizing. Even more exciting is the new bathroom facility we have been building on the property. Here at Hoʻokuaʻāina we strictly utilize composting toilet systems which reduce water consumption and wastewater impact on the ocean. While the standard flushing toilet system is clean and convenient, we often overlook how much fresh, drinkable water it uses and then simply dumps into the ocean. It may sound a bit unsanitary, however the composting toilet system we use at the farm is actually very clean and simple to manage, and our toilets barely smell. Aloha ʻāina is a mindset that affects all aspects of life, including how we use the bathroom. We believe that a truly healthy food system encompasses every stage of food production, from how food is grown to where it goes after it has nourished our bodies.

Education Program Q1 2019

Kids cleaning the patch

Aloha mai nō kākou. As we see a change in season and the lengthening of days following the spring equinox, it is an exciting time at Kapalai!

Today, many students in Hawaiʻi from kindergarten through college will be returning to the classroom to round out the final stretch of their semester. We are still in the malama (month) of Nana, which, akin to the word pūnana, or nest, is a time to welcome new life and growth. According to Handy, Handy, and Pukui (1991):

Zack working with the kids

“[Nana] means ʻanimation.’ Life in plants shows vigor, young mother birds are brooding (kinana), and fledglings (punua) have feathered and are trying to get out of nests. It is altogether a time when nature is full of animation” (p. 31).

One hopes this is met with renewed vigor by those of us, myself included, coming off of a much deserved time to hoʻomaha, to rest. This happens in tandem with the closing of Makahiki, so we say, ʻEleu! E hoʻomau kākou!

I maikaʻi ke kalo i ka ʻohā.* #1232
The goodness of the taro is judged by the young plant it produces.
Parents are often judged by the behavior of their children

Much has happened since our December update. We have been privileged to host some phenomenal kumu (teachers) and haumāna (students) from a variety of schools, including: Keolu Elementary School, Le Jardin Academy, Mālama Honua Public Charter School, Enchanted Lakes Elementary School, and Blanche Pope Elementary.

Pulling Weeds

We are blessed that each of these groups have come to visit previously and that their return has allowed us to deepen our personal connections with one another as well as with ʻāina and with Ke Akua. Each interaction is an opportunity to hoʻokamaʻāina, to become familiar and acquainted with this place, and, on a deeper level, is a step in the journey of understanding and becoming kama, children, of ʻāina, that which feeds and nourishes us. The hope is that by creating a space at Kapalai to go deeper, we will be inspired to mālama this connection with our own wahi (place) as we return home.

O ka makua ke koʻo o ka hale e paʻa ai.* #2424
The parent is the support that holds the household together.

As I think back to the start of this year, I must say that one of the most exciting things for us has been the opportunity to host the families of students we have come to know and to love through Kupuohi, our multi-visit education program. A few of the kumu involved in Kupuohi have asked us to host ‘ohana work days where parents, grandparents, siblings, aunties, uncles, and cousins could come to Kapalai to connect, to work, to eat, and to be fed, in all senses of the word. It’s an opportunity for each ‘ohana to support their child, and for the haumāna to share and to share in the learning with their families. This is an honor we don’t take lightly, and our hope is that through the strengthening of our students, their mākua (parents and those of their parents generation who hānai, feed and raise, them), and the entire ʻohana, we lay and strengthen the foundations necessary to maintain thriving hale and kaiāulu (communities). E ola!

Ke aloha nui kākou. As we each continue to mālama the people and places that feed and nourish us, mahalo for the work you are doing. E hoʻomau kākou. Ke aloha ʻāina.

Handy, E. S. C., Handy, E. G, and M. K. Pukui. (1991). Native Planters in Old Hawaii: Their Life, Lore, and Environment (Revised Edition). Honolulu, Hawaii: Bishop Museum Press.

*Pukui, M. K. (1983). ‘Ōlelo No‘eau Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu, Hawaii: Bishop Museum Press.

Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program Q1 2019

Kukuluhou Boys clearing a patch

What’s the difference between a DREAM and a GOAL? “A GOAL is a DREAM with an action plan.” We should always dream and we should dream big, but in order to make a dream come to life, we must look at all the little steps it’s going to take to get there, make a plan of attack, and then ʻonipaʻa or be steadfast to the course of action.

Ku'i at the capitol

This quarter our kūkuluhou boys are focusing on the theme of ʻonipaʻa or to be steadfast. We began the year by asking the boys to look back at 2018; what did they accomplish, and where did they fall short. In order to learn lessons and move forward, one must look at how he/she arrived at this place in time, re-evaluate choices, and then make a plan to move forward toward new goals.

ʻOnipaʻa was a fitting theme for the start of the new year and with so many new participants in the program, it was a great way to set the tone for not only the year but also the vibe amongst the boys. In circle time we started the year by having the boys share about 2018. It was a powerful bonding exercise for each person to have a chance to let their voice be heard. As we began to focus on individual goals, they were able to see how someone else goals and the steps they needed to take might also be relevant to their own lives.

We continued our conversation looking into the future, allowing them to hone in on some short term goals plus action points to help to achieve them. We challenged them to use those achievements as stepping stones to reach their bigger long term goals. Through journaling exercises, they have been breaking apart each of their short term goals into little “manageable” steps and then coming up with a coping mechanism and ways to overcome the obstacles that will stand in their way.

Some of the boys want to become electricians, mechanics, and carpenters. They named “finishing school” and “getting a job in the field” as steps to achieve their big goal. Throughout the quarter we have been working on steps for them to take. Like “finishing school” for example. The reason they were going to school was that they didn’t get up on time. As we stepped back, it was staying up late the night before and partying that made it hard to get up. So in order to get up and go to school on time, they needed to work on their nightly routine.

Looking at past behavior, gaining insight, reflecting on habits, and then coming up with an action plan is where our focus will continue to be. We want to instill in the youth that if they want to achieve something they have to be willing to bring it to life and do what it takes to get there. For us, building these skills is one of the steps towards helping our Kukuluhou participant realize that their lives have meaning and purpose.

A Message From Our Executive Director

Community DayCommunity DayAloha mai kākou,

A few days after Thanksgiving, I sat overlooking the loʻi reflecting on all the things I am thankful for. My marriage to Michele, our four children, and our collective health and well being jumped out first. Included with this is the life we live, the work we do with Hoʻokuaʻāina, and the many people who have come alongside and journeyed with us these last eleven years. To me, there is little separation between the life I live and the work I do. I am truly so blessed and thankful.

2018 has been quite a year for Hoʻokuaʻāina! We were able to work with close to 4,000 people from all walks of life, facilitating an experience that we believe goes much deeper than the mud we work in. Whether hosting schools, community organizations, disadvantaged youth, businesses, exchange visitors from all around the world, or neighbors in the community, Hoʻokuaʻāina at Kapalai has indeed become the gathering place we’ve long envisioned.

Malama Honua PCS

Our goal is to make deep connections with each individual we meet, not to produce numbers; however, some 2018 numbers give us a sense of how we’re doing:

  • Our Kūkuluhou mentoring program for youth ages 12-18 had 35 weekly participants who learned valuable life skills through Hawaiian values-based coaching and hands-on ʻāina based learning.
  • We provided 11 paid intern positions and 7 of those individuals have continued as a valued part of our team.
  • Student groups from kindergarten through college visited the loʻi 45 times.
  • We hosted 87 community events where individuals and organizations experienced the lo‘i and strengthened their connection with the ‘āina.
  • We are on track to harvest 30,000 pounds of kalo this year, something we have worked hard to accomplish. And while we remind others that we are first and foremost in the people business, we are now a go-to resource for those wanting kalo (which significantly contributes to sustaining Hoʻokuaʻāina.

One of the highlights for the year was our team trip to Rurutu. To experience a place that in many ways is a living actualization of the values that we at Hoʻokuaʻāina seek to live and promote—such as culture, language, food security, sustainability, and community health—was inspiring for all of us who went. The hoʻike fundraiser following the trip gave us the opportunity to share the stories and food of Rurutu and to express the many takeaways of our experience. We trust that all who came and supported our expedition felt the impact the trip had on all of us and how it has enhanced our organization and the larger aloha ʻāina movement here in Hawaii moving forward.

Community Day

Looking to next year, there are many exciting opportunities on the horizon. We are currently pioneering with Windward Community College to create a pathway to post high school education, where students can earn an associate’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture while interning at Hoʻokuaʻāina. We will be recruiting first-generation college students from Windward O‘ahu high schools as well as those who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to attend college. Students who qualify will receive free tuition and a stipend for living expenses. The goal is to pilot the program at Hoʻokuaʻāina during Summer 2019 and eventually build the program with other ‘āina-based organizations in Ko’olaupoko to provide students a wide range of hands-on experiences to complement course requirements in all subject areas within the ahupua’a such as lo’i, fishponds, streams, forestry, and coral reefs.

We continue to improve our infrastructure at Hoʻokuaʻāina to better meet the needs of our many guests. Plans are underway for a new bathroom facility, showering stations, and an office so that Michele can move out of our living room! In addition, we are working on plans to build a traditional hālau in the loʻi as a place to foster greater learning.

Although taking on these plans in addition to the work we are already doing is daunting, we believe these are opportunities that we must pursue. Your continued kōkua and support are of great value to us. As we move into the new year, we pledge to continue to improve the lives of individuals as well as our community at large. Mahalo nui for valuing the work we do and believing in us. We hope you have also had an abundant year. May 2019 be filled with many blessings.

Me ke aloha nui,
Dean Wilhelm

Education Program 2018

Malama Honua PCS Grades 1 & 2

Malama Honua PCS Grades 1 & 2

ʻAʻohe pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokahi.* #203
All knowledge is not learned in one school.
[One can learn from many sources.]

Welina me ke aloha kākou. In this makahiki season, it is only fitting that we take time to look back and reflect on where we have been over this past year. It’s hard to believe that we are rounding out our second full calendar year as an education program, and in many ways, we are only beginning to scratch the surface.

Pope Elementary Grade 4

Pope Elementary Grade 4

Our education program was birthed out of a desire to be a resource to educators and students who value ʻāina and Hawaiian culture-based education and are interested in bringing their learning outside of the classroom. When students, teachers, and families arrive, they can expect to hear a bit about Kapalai and Kailua as well as the moʻolelo and ʻōlelo noʻeau that ground us culturally as an organization. Groups also participate in protocol where we spend time centering ourselves spiritually and introducing ourselves to the ʻāina and one another before jumping into the hana for the day, which will vary from weeding to fertilizing to pulling and cleaning kalo, depending on what is needed. Everything we do with our students goes to maintaining the lo‘i. As Uncle Dean often says, “we don’t give busy work.”

As former DOE teachers, Dean and I both know the importance of providing opportunities for our students to cultivate healthy relationships with one another, with ʻāina, with culture and even with themselves. In a world of standards, testing, and scripted curricula, our hope has been to be a support to teachers who believe in the value of these educational experiences and see long-term community partnership as a way to provide them for their students.

At the start of 2018, we were finalizing our core lessons and resources, while also supporting teachers and students coming to Kapalai for site visits. Hoʻokuaʻāina was also a site for the 2018 Nā Hopena Aʻo (HĀ) Summit in March, where students and educators from a number of schools and organizations in the Windward District and across the pae ʻāina came to experience what we do at Kapalai. All in all, we had terrific year hosting 45 school visits with students from kindergarten through 12th grade and up into college level.

Kupuohi (Multi-Visit Education Program)

'Aikahi Elementary Grade 4

‘Aikahi Elementary Grade 4

Kupuohi, our multi-visit education program, has continued in full force in the 2018-2019 school year with Blanche Pope Elementary School and Mālama Honua Public Charter School continuing to come several times throughout the school year. We are also excited to welcome the kula haʻahaʻa (4th, 5th and 6th graders) from Hālau Kū Māna as well as Keolu Elementary School’s student council, both of whom will be visiting multiple times this school year.

In addition, both our Blanche Pope and Mālama Honua ʻohana have begun hosting ʻohana work days on select weekends throughout the year. While this is a new development, it has been amazing to see students and their families laughing and working together. For us, this is what it’s all about and we’re grateful to be a part.

Blanche Pope Elementary (spotlight)

Pope Elementry ʻāina momona day.

Pope Elementry ʻāina momona day.

During the 2017-2018 school year, Kumu Lily Utaʻi from Blanche Pope Elementary School brought her 4th-grade class to Kapalai once during each of the first three quarters. By their last visit, they had become so maʻa that they were helping the staff to clean around 900 pounds of kalo for our upcoming poi day! In May, our education team participated in their ʻāina momona day where we hosted a ku‘i station for these same 4th-grade students, allowing them to see, experience, and taste the full process of kalo cultivation and preparation. This school year, we began with a classroom visit just before Kumu Lily’s new 6th-grade class, Nā Pōhaku, came out to Kapalai for their first visit of the year. Sharing the ‘ōlelo noʻeau, “Malia paha he iki ʻunu, paʻa ka pōhaku nui ʻaʻole e kaʻa,” “Nani ke kalo,” and “He waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa,” we have been emphasizing the importance of unity, ‘ohana, and kuleana with them so far this year, and we look forward to what the spring has in store!

Looking back and looking forward

Halau Ku Mana Grades 4-6

Halau Ku Mana Grades 4-6

As we reflect on all that has happened in 2018, we’re incredibly grateful to the kumu, haumāna, and ʻohana who have made the choice to go against the grain and to place value on these experiences. We also need to mahalo the ʻāina, kūpuna, and ke Akua who continue to be kumu to us and without whom none of this would be possible.

As we look toward 2019, we plan to finish this school year strong, complete with visits to Kapalai, ʻohana work days, classroom visits, and school events. In addition, we’re beginning to think and plan through what it might look like to bring some of our kuaʻana (older siblings, older students) out more regularly. Stay tuned…

Mahalo for your continued support! Ke aloha nui.

If you would like to sponsor any of these schools or would like to give to our education program, please contact Michele:

To learn more about HĀ and Nā Hopena Aʻo, please visit their website.

*Source: Pukui, M. K. (1983). ‘Ōlelo No‘eau Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu, Hawaii: Bishop Museum Press.

Written by Dani Espiritu, Education Specialist

Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program 2018

Uncle Dean with one of the boys from our mentoring program.

Uncle Dean with one of the boys from our Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program cleaning kalo.

Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program participant

Itʻs amazing to think that weʻve been working with the boys from Ke Kama Pono, a residential home for challenged boys, for three years now. While time sure flies, attempting to remember all the young men we have built relationships with over that period is challenging. Over 100 boys from Ke Kama Pono have been a part of our Kūkuluhou mentoring program during this time. They have come year round on a weekly basis, some for over a year, and have had the opportunity to take part in the cultivation of kalo as a means to grow and flourish. Working with humans can be a messy business, even more so when working with underprivileged, at-risk youth. But somehow we have found that when you add lots and lots of mud into that already messy equation, a positive transformational sum usually takes place! Such has been the case this past year.

Art therapy with Paint Your Paradise

We always use Hawaiian proverbs (ʻŌlelo Noʻeau) as learning tools and started off 2018 with a video voice project focusing on the proverb Kūlia I Ka Nuʻu (strive for the highest). Through group discussion, journaling exercises, and one on one interviews, the boys were challenged and asked to share how they practice kūlia i ka nu’u in their everyday lives, with the goal of creating a short video. Their videos are raw and real. Through the process of prepping for their final on-camera interview, we got to really focus in on each individual. It was a time of deep one on one quality connection, and the final video products are testaments of the transformations taking part in their lives. Check out these videos on our website. We are sure you will agree.

Our exchange with Ma’o Organic Farms

On a day in and day out basis, we continued to work the ʻāina this year marveling at how it is so faithful to grow us. The tasks of cultivating kalo is much like the “wax on, wax off” model, used by Pat Morita in the movie Karate Kid, to grow character, work ethic, and life skills in so many ways. A boy named Sean, who on his first day with us probably worked harder than he ever did in his entire life clearing the roots and logs of a brand new kalo patch, is now markedly different. From a “shell-shocked” timid kid on that first day four months ago, he now refers back to that experience with new incoming boys as if he is an ʻāina hardened kalo farmer of 30 years! While still quiet, Sean models the hard work and effort needed in the loʻi that will give him the perseverance and ethic needed to be successful in whatever he chooses to do in his life. He had never prepared and eaten poi or laulau until coming here and is now one of our most eager participants. He and others like him inspire us to continue the work we do here.

Preparing traditional Hawaiian food

In 2018 we really focused on our evaluation design and process. While the process is always evolving, this year with the help of our gracious partners, we have built, tested, revised, and are currently retesting our entire evaluation system. Not going to lie and say it was easy. Tears may have been shed. However, the lessons we learned through the process were invaluable. Ho’omau (perseverance) was another theme we touched on this year with our Kūkuluhou participants and it was the underlying theme of our evaluation growth as well. Not having the answers to tough questions and having to work and rework through the process makes success so much more gratifying. We learned to enjoy each moment of success because it doesn’t last forever. Like the lessons we teach our Kekamapono boys, we are committed to continually growing, learning, changing and evolving, always striving to be our best.

Co-written by Dean Wilhelm and Cassie Nichols

On the Farm

Paepae Patch

Paepae ‘O He’eia and KUPU helped us open up patch #20 in one day.

One of our biggest kalo so far, over 7lbs.

2018 has been our highest yielding year since we began planting in 2008. Closing out the year, we have harvested nearly 30,000 pounds of kalo. 17,000 pounds went out to families, restaurants, and suppliers in the form of raw kalo. The remainder was sold as poi or kalo paʻa. Due to large harvests early on in the year, (4,000 pounds of kalo harvested in the month of May alone) we had to cease poi production during the summertime. It was a nice break from pulling kalo. Sometimes we would spend most of the week just harvesting kalo, doing nothing but pulling and cleaning kalo for several days in a row. Plus, this break allowed our crew more time to work on the many other necessary tasks at the lo`i and take two weeks off to go on a life-changing expedition with the whole crew to the island of Rurutu in the Australs. (If you havenʻt had a chance, make sure to watch the video of our experience.)

With the help of our great summer intern crew we were able to clear, prepare, and plant patch number 21: Zack Patch (chee!). This was the second lo`i we built out this year, after Paepae patch which was cleared in a single workday with the Paepae crew earlier this spring (all of our patches are named after crews or individuals who have spent significant time helping to build out a particular patch). Next, to Paepae patch we have also prepared an area for our future hale, where we will hold lessons and host community groups. Construction and thatch work on the hale are set to begin early in 2019.

The cycle begins again, planting huli.

And of course, we dedicated much of our time to usual farm work, making sure we caught up on planting and fertilizing cycles and knocking down the jungle of weeds that always show up when we aren’t looking. Unfortunately, with all the wet weather we had this year and the increased flooding which resulted from it, we experienced some crop losses, especially in those patches planted in the beginning of this year. It’s a bit of a bummer when we spend time preparing and planting a patch only to have all the huli die after spending an entire weekend completely under water. That is simply the nature of farming. Our labor certainly helps the kalo to grow but ultimately so much is decided by the `āina and is completely outside of our control. Times like those are a reminder to keep humble in light of our record kalo production and sales.

Written by Zack Pilien Lead Co-Farm Manager

Meet Zack

My name is Zachary Pilien, home is Kāne’ohe, and I am a Kalo farmer.

My story with Ho’okua’āina begins shortly after I finished my studies at UH Mānoa in the spring of 2016. I had chosen Plant and Environment Protection Sciences as my major field of study, with intentions of doing forestry and conservation work in the mountains. I spent the summer submitting applications for jobs in these fields but was never accepted for any of them. Eventually, I gave up, stopped looking for jobs, and spent my time having fun, making anykine, and most importantly volunteering. A friend of mine who was familiar with Ho’okua’āina brought me down to work with the crew for a day, introducing me to Uncle Dean. A couple of weeks later I found myself again at the lo’i, throwing sticks for five hours straight as the newest member of Ho’okua’āina’s internship program.

Some time has passed and so much has happened since that day; it’s crazy looking back and reflecting on it all. At first, I viewed my internship as just a job, a really cool job, but every now and then I would see a position open up somewhere else and send an application. In the back of my mind, I still wanted to be in the mountains or at least get in working with the State. Gradually I became more and more comfortable with the rest of the work crew, opening up to them and really enjoying their company. Before long we were singing together, having laughs together, and even consulting each other on the deeper more personal aspects of life – all while working hard and getting things done at the lo’i.

The building of this relationship really culminated when we all went to Maui together. For four days we slept in the same house together, ate together, worked together, explored together – everything we did, we did together. We all realized that we were no longer just a work crew, we had become a family.

The lo’i has become my home. There is no place I would rather be, and now I would never consider leaving for another job. This is the best job I will ever have and I know for certain that someday I will look back on this time as the “good old days”. I wanted to work in the mountains because there was a time when hiking and being in the mountains was my escape from the dissatisfaction and frustration of my former life. Instead, fate brought me to Ho’okua’āina where I have found an even greater sanctuary, a sanctuary where I can truly be myself, where I am surrounded by some of my closest friends and our mentor Uncle Dean, where I am pushed to grow and better myself, and where I can share all of this with the many people who come to work with us weekly.

I don’t know where life will bring me next or when that may be. But I do know that I will forever carry the memories, experiences, and memories that this place and this family have continued to bless me with. I truly feel like I am a part of this place. Wherever I go I will carry Ho’okua’āina with me and maybe I can touch peoples’ lives in the same way that Ho’okua’āina has touched mine.

My name is Zachary Pilien, home is Kāne’ohe, and I am a Kalo farmer.

Meet Ethan

Meet Ethan

My name is Ethan McArdle and I am from Moku o Keawe (Big Island). I grew up in Paʻauilo running barefoot in the mountains, and getting my feet dirty with my 10 other brothers and sisters. We spent most of our days down at the beach in Waipio, swimming in the ocean, playing in the rivers, and hiking through the valleys that were filled with ancient Loʻi Kalo. I had a deep connection to my ʻāina, my family, my community of people, and my connection to Ke Akua. When I moved to Oʻahu to go to school at Windward Community College, I felt disconnected to these core parts of my identity. I had no money, no car, no friends, and no sense of direction for my life. I was experiencing homesickness and culture shock on a daily basis. The hustle and bustle of Oʻahu were completely foreign to a little country boy.

Ethan Weeding

After a year of living on Oʻahu, I got offered a summer internship at Hoʻokuaʻāina. I had never actually stepped foot in a Loʻi before, so working in one was a totally new experience for me. My first day, we were pulling kalo, and I remember uncle Dean telling me to go through and find “golf ball-sized” kalo. When I first dipped my feet into the mud, I felt it squish between my toes, and engulf my legs. I was really nervous because it felt so different to me. Soon enough the Loʻi became the only thing that didn’t feel foreign to me. That squishy feeling between my toes brought back memories of running up mauka barefoot with my brothers. I found myself looking forward to going to work and getting muddy. I was happy here on O’ahu for the first time since I had moved here. I found a place that was bigger than myself, a place that really meant something to me. From then on out I felt like I was on a ride. It seemed that I was constantly growing and changing. Now Hoʻokuaʻāina is where I am grounded.

Being a farmer comes with many challenges such as dealing with flooding, getting itchy when you harvest (I struggle a lot with this), and endless amounts of weeds. The cultivation of kalo is not the only thing we are challenged with; we are also challenged with the cultivation of character. Uncle Dean and Aunty Michele have both become mentors to me. I have found that my relationship with the ʻāina, my family, and my community as well as my relationship with Ke Akua, have aligned to form a Lokahi triangle, which is something Uncle Dean and Aunty Michele are always encouraging us to cultivate. It is what pushes me to strive and be my best self.

Ethan Digging In The Mud

Sometimes I ask myself, why do I choose to come back? It’s not an easy job and you can’t be in it for the money. I think that the answer is that the people of Hoʻokuaʻāina have become my family just like the place has become my home. Nowhere else have I found a more inspirational and passionate group of individuals. The power that Hoʻokuaʻāina has to connect people, to bring them together and to build community, has brought me closer to people who have come to change my life and become my brothers and sisters. I have also witnessed the power of my work to make a difference in this world. The power to make a change when a change is needed. I feel that power to make a difference within me, and it has become my passion. I have always felt the desire to leave a positive impact on this world and to do something that will help people to thrive in a world where so many suffer. Now more than ever, I feel equipped to do this. I don’t know if my path is to continue to be a Mahi ʻai Kalo, but I know I’ll always need to plant myself in the ʻāina so that I may continue to grow and cultivate the land and my relationships with those around me.

I am now a farm manager at Hoʻokuaʻāina. I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon but if that time comes I know I’ll be proud of the impact I have made. I have gone from searching for golf ball-sized kalo to pulling seven-pound makua in patches named after the people who choose to plant their roots in the same soil as me. I started as a kid struggling in every aspect of my life and became a young man who is driven to pursuing my passions. I hope to become a leader, to feed people, and to inspire people to pursue a life of meaning and impact, just as Hoʻokuaʻāina has done for me.

Written By: Ethan McArdle, Projects Farm Manager

Rurutu Cultural Exchange


An exciting opportunity has found it’s way to us at Ho‘okua‘āina! Some of you are aware that in our loʻi at Kapalai we use the mounded or puʻe puʻe style of growing kalo. The authors of the book Native Planters, considered the authority of traditional Hawaiian food crop cultivation, argue that the first settlers to Hawai‘i cultivated kalo in this style—as opposed to the predominant way that it is grown today, submerged in water. Our mentor, Uncle Earl Kawaʻa, who grew up farming kalo, acknowledges that we have been relearning this ancient method of growing through trial and error. From day one at Ho‘okua‘āina, we have been on a mission to gain back ancient knowledge that had been lost.

This past winter we were fascinated by an article in Hana Hou magazine about Rurutu, a tiny and remote island in French Polynesia where kalo is grown in the same mounded manner like we do. In addition, the people there pound kalo into poi exactly like Hawaiians, using the same implements, and they call it popoi! As far as we knew, Hawaii was unique in this regard. Coincidentally, months later, a young man named Tamatea whose family lives on Rurutu came to visit our lo‘i. Tamatea explained Rurutu’s thriving kalo culture and manner of eating it with every meal. After this intriguing conversation, we reached out to his uncle, Viriamu (the kalo farmer featured in the Hana Hou article), and began planning an expedition in search of lost ancient knowledge and important cultural connections vital to us as we search the past to find answers for our future.

For over 10 years we have been seeking knowledge of the ancient style of puʻe puʻe kalo cultivation, feeling almost like pioneers, and always wondering if what we are doing is correct. Going to Rurutu will enlighten and educate us on a tradition that has continued uninterrupted for 2,000 years, and affirm the path we are already on. Going there will allow us the opportunity to step back in time and experience a place where kalo is still the staple, and where the practice of pounding kalo into poi may have first begun. In short, this is an opportunity to reconnect to and build a relationship with others of a shared ancient heritage and bring that ʻike or knowledge back to share in Hawaii.


Purchase a table at our exclusive Hoʻike Rurutu Celebration Dinner

Come and join us for an intimate evening at Kapalai and experience traditional South Pacific cuisine as we share our cultural expedition and adventures.

Date: Sept. 8, 2018 | 5 to 9 pm

Where: Kapalai | 916E Auloa Road | Kailua, HI 96724


  • $2500 for a table of 10 | Limited to 10 tables
  • $125 Individual Seat | Limited availability

Meet Akamu

Akamu-Farm Manager

“Ka manu ahai, kanu awa ē”
The bird that clips the twig and plants it elsewhere.

Akamu Working In The Lo'iI don’t know how long the creator has it for me to be at Ho‘okua‘āina, but I know that after my time there, I will take all that I have learned and use it most effectively. Like the manu, I also was “flighty” in action. I was following the flock. Thinking the western way of living was the only way to be successful. Now I have my own flock, my family, and it is my desire to be a better father, kāne, provider, and to raise our keiki in our culture. Like the kalo I cultivate, I plant aloha in my soil, water with intention and harvest with gratitude. This way I learn for the betterment of us…for the betterment of Hawai‘i.

Before taking on the kuleana as an intern (now co-manager) I was working at Down To Earth where I gained an understanding of healthy eating but also saw how disenfranchised the world of “health” is and how it didn’t seem accessible to everyone. Also at this time, I was also a student at UH Manoa and had found my calling in our native language. Soon I found that my “job” didn’t satisfy my spirit, moreover, the more I was learning about the realities of the world-history, injustices, discriminations and the like, both overseas and right here in Hawai’i. The more I desired to be the change (and work to change) these happenings of marginalization. How was I going to make it pono? I understood, alone I couldn’t solve all the problems, but I could do my part. Then, I realized what I was doing didn’t align with my values, so I searched for a new hana.

Alamu working with the mentoring groupThat search lead me to the lo‘i and to my second family at Ho‘okua‘āina where I have been cultivating kalo for almost two years. In addition, I am finishing up my degree in ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. It has been a learning curve for me for sure. For me, there are huge and small lessons that I have learned there. An example of something that I activate constantly and is something innate to Hawai’i is aloha! Every week, we have people visiting to either volunteer or work. And the growing food in and of itself is hard work! So, in order to maintain a mind of receiving ‘ike and to keep the lo‘i a place of learning I must remind myself to aloha. This is the work of our kupuna, and to perpetuate ‘ai pono, is to ensure our own people become healthy. On poi days, I am practicing food safety, time management, and constantly learning how to manage the hana that goes into large-scale food production. And of course, aloha is crucial in poi making. -it goes inside the poi, you know!

After I graduate, I want to continue to mahi‘ai and mālama ‘āina; to continue the work of my ancestors. Because of working here, I see the importance of making something of myself. Working to make our people healthy. Being a leader. Being compassionate….as a father, a kāne, and as a provider. Cultivating kalo for the next seven generations also guarantees my children’s children will have kalo, and with that, aloha ‘āina. Working at Ho’okua’aina is for the betterment of us…for the betterment of Hawai‘i.

Written By: Adam (Akamu) Po’oloa, Maintenance Farm Manager

Hawaiian Moon Phases


Children who do not know the moon phases: Muku is here, Muku is the month, Hilo comes next, then Hoaka.

Said of one who does not know the answer to a question or is ignorant. He is compared to a small child who has not yet learned the moon phases.

Ever notice the different phases of the moon and how the ʻāina, kai, and us as kānaka respond in relation to it? We can see the ebb of the tides due to the gravitational pull of the moon. Our kūpuna were such astute observers, that they recognized the different cycles and patterns each night. The helu pō (moon phases), affected how they lived out all aspects of life, including fishing, farming, building, duties, and celebrations.

“Kamaliʻi ʻike ʻole i ka helu pō.”

Children who do not know the moon phases. 

When one didn’t know the answer to a question, this remark was often made in response; they were compared to kamaliʻi (children) who didn’t know the moon phases. To Hawaiians, understanding the moon phases was used in optimizing the farming, fishing, building, and various tasks they relied on, that not knowing would be considered almost ignorant.

At Hoʻokuaʻāina, we use the moon when it comes to planting; it acts as our calendar. To keep up with the demand for kalo (which we are immensely grateful for), we have been planting two patches each month. One patch we plant around the full moon and the other patch will fall somewhere in between. The planting of this second patch is determined by when we’re able to prep it and gather enough huli. The reality is that life will not wait for us. The weeds will keep growing and the nights will continue to pass us by. But the beauty of this is that it gives us an opportunity to kilo (make observations). We can compare how the kalo grows when it is planted on the full moon versus when it is not. 

The Hawaiian malama (month) is broken into three anahulu (period of 10 days). The first anahulu is named hoʻonui, this is the time when the moon is increasing in size or waxing. The second anahulu is named poepoe, this is when the moon is rounding and becomes full. The third anahulu is named hoʻēmi, this is when the moon is decreasing or waning.

Generally speaking, ʻole moons aren’t good for planting or fishing. If you look at the word itself, ʻole means without or lacking, not what you would want your kalo to be. These are great days for us to clear hau and pull weeds.

The moons we do like to plant on are anything from Hua to Māhealani. During our exchange trip to Rurutu in 2018, Uncle Viriamu also shared with us a similar practice of planting just before the full moon. Kū moons can be good for planting too. One meaning of the word kū is to stand, so it would only make sense to plant things that you want to grow tall and sit upright. Lāʻau is a general name for trees or plants, so any lāʻau moons are great for planting too.

When we first made the conscious effort to plant on the full moon a little over two years ago, what stood out the most, was how much straighter and taller the kalo stood than usual. It was as if someone had reached down and pulled it up to the sky. Perhaps just as the moon’s gravity pulls on the ocean, it also lifts the water up through the kalo plant. You don’t have to take our word for it. Test it out for yourself and make your own observations. See what the same plant looks like when planted on different moons. See which plants grow best on which moons. Let’s all challenge ourselves to learn together.


  • Why was the helu pō (moon calendar) so important to Hawaiians and other indigenous peoples across the world?
  • What is tonight’s moon? Is the moon in the sky right now? If not, when will it rise?
  • If you notice, there are ʻole moons in both the hoʻonui and hoʻēmi anahulu. What is similar about these moons?
  • Compare the Hawaiian moon calendar to the calendar we use today. What are the potential benefits of following the moon?


  • Helu Pō: Moon calendar; to count the nights.
  • Mahina: Moon
  • Malama: Month
  • Anahulu: Period of 10 days
  • Hoʻonui: Enlarging, first anahulu
  • Poepoe: Rounding, second anahulu
  • Hoʻēmi: Diminishing, third anahulu

Hawaiian Moon Phases

View an interactive Hawaiian Moon Calendar Here:


  • Hilo
  • Hoaka
  • Kūkahi
  • Kūlua
  • Kūkolu
  • Kūpau
  • ʻOlekūkahi
  • ʻOlekūlua
  • ʻOlekūkolu
  • ʻOlepau


  • Huna
  • Mōhala
  • Hua
  • Akua
  • Hoku ili – when the moon is still in the sky as the sun rises
  • Hoku palemo – when the moon disappears as the sun rises
  • Māhealani
  • Kulu
  • Lāʻaukūkahi
  • Lāʻaukūlua
  • Lāʻaupau


  • ʻOlekūkahi
  • ʻOlekūlua
  • ʻOlepau
  • Kāloakūkahi
  • Kāloakūlua
  • Kāloapau
  • Kāne
  • Lono
  • Mauli
  • Muku

Possible Extension Activities

Learn the Hawaiian moon phases through this chant and hand game.

Kamali’i ‘ike ‘ole i ka helu pō
Muku nei, Muku ka malama
Hilo nei, kau ka Hoaka
‘Ehā Kū, ‘Ehā ‘Ole
Huna, Mohalu, Hua, Akua
Hoku, Māhealani, Kulu
‘Ekolu Lā’au, ‘Ekolu ‘Ole, ‘Ekolu Kāloa
Kāne, Lono, Mauli Pau

Pick a crop and plant it on different moon phases. Perhaps start with Hilo, the new moon, then an ʻole moon, and then one of the full moons. Keep everything else constant so that that moon is the only varying factor. Take pictures and keep notes so that you can compare how they grow. 

Keep a journal and for 30 consecutive days, kilo something. You can pick a plant in your yard, your favorite beach, or even just reflect on yourself and see how you feel each day. What changes do you notice? Does the tide sit a little higher than the day before? Do you feel extra productive on one day and less motivated on another? Make note of it!

Pukui, Mary Kawena. “ʻŌlelo Noʻeau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings.” Hawaiʻi: Bernice P. Bishop Museum Special Publication No. 71. 1983. Pukui, Mary Kawena lāua ʻo Samuel H. Elbert. “Hawaiian Dictionary.” Hawaiʻi: University of Hawaiʻi Press. 1986.

Andrews, Lorrin lāua ʻo Henry H. Parker. “A Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language.” Hawaiʻi: The Board of Commissioners of Public Archives of the Territory of Hawaii. 1922.

Content on this page was written and compiled by Johanna Kapōmaikaʻi Stone and Rachel Kapule

Meet Rachel

harvesting farm manager rachel images

My journey as a mahiʻai began my sophomore year of high school when I started volunteering at Ka Papa Loʻi ʻo Kānewai after school. At that time, I didn’t know what path ke Akua had planned for me. In school, math was my strongest subject. My teachers and counselors were always pushing me to focus on engineering. I actually believed that this was where I was going in life. Staying home for college was not an option. I was striving to get into schools like UCLA, USC, and other big-name colleges. I was going to Kānewai to learn more about my culture but I had never visualized a future in farming. My teachers and peers had me convinced that success came from attending a good college, getting a high paying job, and making lots of money. For a portion of my life this “success” had been my only goal.

rachel showing a group how to plant kalo

I was finishing up my junior year at Punahou when I decided to look for a job. I wanted a break from my long days in the classroom and knowing I enjoyed the simplistic lifestyle of Kānewai, I knew I wanted to work outdoors. I came across Hoʻokuaʻāina’s website one day and gave Uncle Dean a call. That summer I began working as an intern and haven’t left since.

As I reflect on my time at Hoʻokuaʻāina, I can see just how drastically I’ve grown over the past two years. I’ve worked with the most grounded, steadfast people who have goals of building relationships and living pono. They’ve opened my eyes and helped me to see that success is separate from money. The more days I spent at Hoʻokuaʻāina, the more my love for Hāloa fostered. I looked forward to getting in the mud and found myself always sharing the work I was doing. It was during this time that I was introduced to the ʻohana waʻa. I began spending some of my afternoons down at Mauli Ola taking care of the beautiful double-hulled voyaging canoes.

It was through these experiences that I realized there was no place for me on the mainland. I couldn’t leave the place I had so much kuleana to. My desire to study engineering dissolved and shifted to attending UH Mānoa. Staying home for school meant that I could continue farming, I could continue sailing, I could continue learning ʻōlelo hawaiʻi, and I could continue this journey I was on as a kanaka maoli. I was fortunate to sail on Hikianalia to Kauaʻi where I witnessed the ʻoahi ceremony. The whole community welcomed us and showed how much support for our lāhui exists.

rachel weding with one of our community volunteers

I am currently a freshman at UH Mānoa majoring in both Hawaiian studies and Hawaiian language. I’m connecting with so many like-minded people and together we are building ourselves to become the future of Hawaiʻi. I’m doing what I love every day and I could not be happier. Staying home and attending UH Mānoa has been the best decision of my entire life.

I came to Hoʻokuaʻāina wanting to learn more about my culture and I am here now wanting to be a farmer. After tasting the satisfaction of growing my own food, I know I could never go back. I’ve come to appreciate and value the food I put into my body, just as my ancestors did. Food was sacred to them, it was their religion. In my opinion, so many problems could be solved if we just ate the food of our ʻāina. It is so much healthier for both people and the environment. I’m living to see Hawaiʻi thriving in food production and I will do all I can to make this a reality. I’m not talking about growing pineapples to ship off to foreign countries, I’m talking about restoring our kahawai, our loko iʻa, and creating more loʻi kalo. We need to create more organizations like Hoʻokuaʻāina to inspire and change more lives, just as it has done for me.

Written By: Rachel Kapule, Planting Farm Manager

The Luxury of Boredom

Here we are, already at the end of the first month of what promises to be another fantastic year. 2017 was a booming year for Hoʻokuaʻāina. During Christmas break, as a staff, we took a much-needed rest for 2 weeks from groups, harvest, production, and just all the normal day to day operations of our organization. It was the first time in over a year that we skipped a poi day. Mahalo for understanding! It was so needed and so appreciated! As a family, we spent our time hibernating in Volcano being completely antisocial and it was wonderful. Our days were filled with reading, puzzles, movies, cooking, long walks, bubble baths, and long-overdue conversations. What luxury!! We heard from our kids on several occasions, “Iʻm so bored!” or “You are so boring.” Ha! What a luxury! I canʻt even remember the last time I was bored. I realize it is a new life goal of mine – to be bored, often! We are accustomed to so many things going on at once, we never have time to escape the fast pace of life and frankly, our minds, bodies, and spirits were completely worn out. I think many people who visit our space have the perception that we live in this serene bubble, surrounded by nature, soaking in the sounds of the birds singing in the breeze. Indeed, there are these moments. And believe me, I cherish each one. But they are usually short-lived and fleeting. We realized this past Christmas break that we must commit to a time of seclusion at least once a year for our sanity.

Good thing we did escape because 2018 started with a bang! (No pun intended for the false nuclear bomb alert – that deserves a blog all to itself) Our raw kalo sales are shooting through the roof. We have already pulled over 2000 pounds in less than 3 weeks. In January alone, our staff has already hosted several large groups and started a new mentoring cohort. As reflected in the pictures, January 19th was an amazing day of collaboration. Hiʻilei, from Paepae o Heʻeia, gathered her entire crew plus a handful of volunteers to share a workday with us and help us to achieve a very lofty goal. Dean set the challenge of opening patch #20 in one day (a feat never did before). Usually, it takes 2-4 months to open a new patch that is overgrown with hau. He knew he was shooting for the moon, but this was the right crew to meet the challenge. KUPU also jumped in to lend a hand. With 6 chainsaws blazing and an army of determination, we were able to get it done. In honor of the spirit of collaboration, we named patch #20 Paepae o Heʻeia. We hope it represents the theme of this year, which is to be very intentional about connecting with like-minded organizations to achieve our goals and help one another meet the needs of our community in collective ways. This past week, 22 organizations, schools, and foundations working with Windward communities met for a 2-day conference to brainstorm ways we can achieve this together. The future is so bright for our youth!

A few highlights from this past year:

  • Total visitors 2017: 3677
  • Total community events held: 140
  • Total school events: 48
  • Total number of students: 1505

Over 32 youth participated in our weekly mentoring program. Four of our interns promoted to co-farm management positions and will be working this year on professional development in new areas such as small business enterprise and career-related certifications centered on food production and agriculture. In addition to managing the 20 patches of kalo, they will also help Dean lead the mentoring program, host groups and train interns coming on board this summer. Our Education team continues to reach out and develop new relationships with teachers in the Windward complex offering multi-visit options with prepared lessons that fit in with the standards-based curriculum. As a staff of 9, we have set some lofty goals but are all on board for an exciting ride this year. Mahalo for an amazing year. Whether in the mud, on a poi day, or just through our news, we look forward to connecting with you. May you all have the luxury to experience moments of boredom in this new year.

Ke aloha,

Confessions of a Recovering Fundraiser Coordinator

Hoʻokuaʻāina FundraiserLife “after the fundraiser” fondly became referred to as ATF during the chaos of planning over the last couple months. Our staff could barely see the light at the end of the tunnel as our 10th anniversary first annual fundraiser approached and all of us, although excited, couldn’t wait for the preparations to be over and for our lives to return back to normal. Normal at Hookuaaina is a pace that I used to think of as crazy busy. Next to pulling off a fundraiser, it feels like a piece of cake! Hosting groups 5 days out of the week, managing a farm, producing poi, writing grants, having random people pop in all the time, raising a family, goats, chickens, dogs, cats, no problem! I even heard the words come out of my mouth “I would much rather write 10 grants than coordinate a fundraiser!” Never in a million years did I ever imagine myself saying those words.

Here we are 2 weeks post party and I almost don’t know what to do with myself. Gone are the days of countless texts, emails, decisions and details that whittled my brain down to a scrambled mess. For weeks leading up to the event, I felt like a tiny ball in the pinball machine of life. I have a new found respect for the amazing fundraisers we have attended just imagining what the behind the scenes were like and the army of people it must have taken to pull it off.

Did we pull it off? I think so. And yes, we had an army!

At 4:20pm that evening my family had still not showered. We were running around frantically trying to tie up last minute details. Guests were arriving at 5pm! Thankfully, our amazing staff, board members, and volunteers (75 total) were faithfully there to miraculously put it all together before the first guests arrived at 4:45!

It was a tidal wave of people rolling in after that, 350 total. 100 more than we had planned! It was all a blur as I greeted guests thinking in the back of my mind the many to do’s that I had left hanging. It had to be surrendered. Our guests seemed happy to be at Kapalai and the party had begun! The buzz around the cocktail tables as people began to enjoy the pupus was fun to watch. Beer and conversations were flowing, so much so that it took Kihei, our emcee, several attempts on the mic to get everyone seated.

Hookuaaina Fundraiser 2017After the family oli and opening pule from our beloved Uncle Earl Kawa’a, service began. Our whole intent behind the menu was to take our guests back in time when poi was the center of the meal. Each table had 3 umeke of poi in different stages, one fresh, one day old and one 10 day old. The rest of the food and wine offerings were all meant to accompany the poi. It was up to each guest to adventure with pairing the different flavors. Accompaniments included pork and ulu lau lau, Kole (reef fish), pipi kaula (dried meat), limu (sea weed), ahi poke, dried ahi, raw and dried he’e (octopus) hō’io (fern) salad and paʻakai (salt) gathered from Molokai. For dessert, we created a Kapalai style kulolo with banana freeze, coconut syrup and toasted coconut on top.

The best part about the menu is that everything on the table, with exception to the pork in the lau lau, was raised, caught, gathered, grown and prepared either at Kapalai or by friends. I think the food was extra delicious because of all the love that went into every dish. We have had a flood of comments about how much people loved the food and how it touched their hearts. Many kupuna shared they hadn’t had food like that since they were children. Ahhhh, YES! That is exactly what we were hoping for. All the dropped details just faded away.

During dinner folks mingled through the silent auction and reconnected with friends, the buzz was contagious. I had just sat down to do the same, (I barely got to visit with anyone – my apologies) when the dreaded moment came! Dean came to grab me. It was time for the formal part of the program. The time in which all I was asked to do was to share about our journey for the past 10 years and acknowledge those who had been a crucial part in getting us here to this point at Kapalai. I was secretly hoping that we would scrap this since everyone was anxiously waiting for the musicians to start. No such luck, I followed Dean to the front and what happened after that is a complete blur. The only thing that I heard come out of my mouth was blahblahblahblahblah. To this day, I have no idea what I said but I can assure you it was not what I intended! Complete brain meltdown. I couldn’t find any of my thoughts. My brain just said, “Nope, I’m done. Enough already! You overloaded me and I’m not coming back tonight!” It was an important life lesson for me. Just say no! I have realized my limitations. I cannot be the coordinator and the communicator. Choose one or the other.

Thankfully, I was rescued by Dean who still had a clear mind and a surprise presentation by our kids and the interns. They set the tone to begin what was one of the most memorable evenings of music I have witnessed in a very long time. Kawika Kahiapo, Robi Kahakalau, Moon Kauakahi and Joe Bernobis shared their sweet melodies with us for over 2 hours. I forced myself to sit down and soak it all in. It trickled down into every part of my being to bring restoration to my soul. Looking around at the crowd, I could see that many others were experiencing the same thing.

“So will you do this again next year,” was the question of the evening as guests departed around 10pm. That is like asking a woman who just went through labor if she is ready for another one! Maybe ask us in 6 months after the pain of labor has faded and all that remains are the memories of an enchanting evening spent with friends.

Is it worth it to do it all again? Absolutely! We exceeded our goals and raised enough to fund our intern program for over 6 months. But that was not the only intent behind our efforts to pull off our first ever fundraiser. The real intent behind the whole evening was to celebrate the abundance of Ke Akua and to thank all of those who came alongside us, believed in the crazy vision and jumped in, literally, to help us see it through. These moments in life require taking time out to acknowledge the process, celebrate the success and refresh for what lies ahead. For our new friends who were able to join us, we need your support! It takes a village to build a healthy community. We invite to journey with us.

Whether is every year, every other or in the next 10, we look forward to celebrating with you again! Just give us a few moments to regroup.

He Hālana i Kapalai! What a night to remember!

Hookuaaina Rebuilding Lives From The Ground Up

Hoʻokuaʻāina is located in the ahupuaʻa of Kailua at Kapalai in Maunawili on the island of Oʻahu.

For more information about our programs or how you can get involved please contact us.

visit us

916E Auloa Rd.

Kailua, HI 96734


P.O. Box 342146

Kailua, HI 96734

follow us

Hookuaaina Rebuilding Lives From The Ground Up

Hoʻokuaʻāina is located in the ahupuaʻa of Kailua at Kapalai in Maunawili on the island of Oʻahu.

For more information about our programs or how you can get involved please contact us.

visit us

916E Auloa Rd.

Kailua, HI 96734

mail us

P.O. Box 342146

Kailua, HI 96734

email us

Reach Us At:

follow us

Hoʻokuaʻāina is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization

© Hoʻokuaʻāina 2020 All Rights Reserved | Terms & Conditions | Privacy | Site By Created By Kaui

Hoʻokuaʻāina is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization

© Hoʻokuaʻāina 2020 All Rights Reserved | Terms & Conditions | Privacy | Site By Created By Kaui

Hoʻokuaʻāina is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization

© Hoʻokuaʻāina 2020 All Rights Reserved | Terms & Conditions | Privacy

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