A small eco-farm is working toward tackling some of Hawaii’s biggest problems.
An abandoned, dilapidated farm on the northeast coast of Oahu has been restored to become Waimanalo Agroforestry Natural Farm. Its original lush soil, resuscitated under the loving care of its founders and volunteers, now gives rise to an abundance of organic and nutrient-rich native produce. The farm is a pathway for healing — for both the land and the local community — with its vibrant, interconnected and sustainable ecosystem.
Waimanalo Agroforestry Natural Farm was born out of a wish to solve Hawaii’s growing challenges:
- Negative impact of climate change on their environment.
- Local and organic produce on the island threatened with the use of pesticides, GMO and artificial preservatives.
- Food shortages in the island communities, exacerbated by viruses and other disasters, and an over- reliance on imported foods.
- A growing population that is increasingly busy and stressed
- Considerable shortage of nursing care homes for Hawaii’s aging community.
The farm’s founders, Gary E. Johnson and Takae Okuma‐Johnson, have decades of experience in agroforestry. Mitra Path met with them on their previous farm, where their wildly popular organic chicken eggs were consistently sold out, and listened to this married couple’s dream of restoring this new farm to solve Hawaii’s pressing issues. They came up with different business models and decided on an organic agroforestry farm that combined environment, community and wellness. They would draw on Gary’s agroforestry expertise and Takae’s skills as a yoga teacher, and on both of their passions for social entrepreneurship.
Gary and Takae’s dream to address Hawaii’s challenges was aligned with their state government. About 85-90% of Hawaii’s food is imported, making the state vulnerable to natural disasters and global events that could disrupt supply chains. With like-minded hope for a self-sufficient future, the State of Hawaii leased the land to the founders in support of their mission.
About the Farm
Waimanalo Agroforestry Natural Farm’s goal is help people lead healthy lives in harmony with nature. They strive to provide opportunities for material and spiritual fulfillment of their employees, while contributing to the betterment of society and humankind.
The farm operate by the 3Ps: Produce healthy food, protect the environment, and purify the body, mind and spirit through Nature.
- Lease the land
- Clear out the debris, restore and cultivate the land, bringing back its organic and healthy soil.
- Plant native tropical fruits and vegetables applying all-natural agroforestry principles.
- Direct sale of crops through an on-site store selling farm products, local farmer markets, and “Farm to Table” restaurants.
- Construct a building for yoga and meditation for community members of all ages.
The farm has since transformed the land with a lively community of volunteers. They cleared the land and found a water source, laying down piping for irrigation that brought their taro fields to life. They began selling crops and built a community house, a greenhouse and a yoga pavilion for gathering and harvesting. Through organic farming methods and Japanese agroforestry design, the farm has since produced a variety of garden vegetables (kale, bok‐choy, mizuna, chives, malabar spinach, beets, turmeric, ginger roots, and herbs) and fruit (banana, avocado, taro and breadfruit).
Yoga lessons have started on the property to restore the mental and physical wellbeing of community members. The lessons are attended by people both on-site and remotely.
Mitra Path grants were used to support Waimanalo Agroforestry Farm in these activities.
In the next phases, Waimanalo farm will create and sell value-added products to customers, in addition to further cultivation of the land and expanding their produce sales. Over the next year they plan to 1) establish a Yoga & Meditation program, and 2) make spaces for active seniors and children to plant and harvest together.