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.
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!
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.