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Rooted in their de­sire to grow or­ganic food lo­cally and sup­port Hawai‘i’s youth, Gary Mau­nakea-Forth and his wife, Kukui, started MA‘O Or­ganic Farms in 2001 (MA‘O is an acro­nym for Mala Ai ‘Opio, which trans­lates to “youth gar­den”) as a way to reach out to at-risk youth in Wai‘anae. Since then, their youth lead­er­ship train­ing pro­gram has helped hun­dreds of stu­dents ob­tain col­lege ed­u­ca­tions, as well as in­spired many to be­come farm­ers. Along with build­ing and rais­ing a com­mu­nity through agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­ity, they’ve also raised aware­ness of the cur­rent in­sta­bil­ity of Hawai‘i’s food and eco­nomic se­cu­rity through an au­then­tic farm-to-ta­ble ex­pe­ri­ence.

Vol­un­teer Tip: G.I.V.E. (Get In­volved and Vol­un­teer En­vi­ron­men­tally) back with MA‘O’s com­mu­nity work days ev­ery last Satur­day of the month. Plant, weed, har­vest, and talk story with lo­cal res­i­dents while learn­ing about the deep con­nec­tion be­tween the land, the food, and the peo­ple of Hawai‘i. maoor­gan­ic­farms.org


Imag­ine 99 acres of beau­ti­ful, lush for­est and agri­cul­tural ter­races in a moun­tain val­ley. Then imag­ine a small com­mu­nity com­ing to­gether to re­store life to the area, plant­ing ba­nana trees, har­vest­ing kalo (taro), weed­ing, and learn­ing about the ahupua‘a (tra­di­tional wa­ter­shed sys­tem) of the area. It’s an in­spir­ing thought.

Vol­un­teer Tip: Com­mu­nity work days take place ev­ery Wed­nes­day and third Satur­day of the month. Look for­ward to ben­e­fit­ting from the knowl­edge of Pa­cific Is­land tra­di­tions in agro­forestry. hoolu­aina.com

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