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.