This past weekend, 40 of us from Foodland had the privilege of working at Ma‘o Farms  in Wai‘anae. I say “privilege” because it truly was an honor to learn more about the organization and see and hear first all they are doing for the betterment of our community. Led by executive director Kukui Maunakea-Forth and managing director Gary Maunakea-Forth, the student staff and interns shared their experiences and showed us what had been accomplished there to date. And it was clear very quickly that Ma‘o Farms is not simply growing organic produce, they are developing young leaders who are committed to the sustainability of our community. We were all very impressed by their knowledge, their passion, and their commitment to balancing long hours on the farm with furthering their education in the classroom.
After an oli to honor the land, we spent the morning weeding the fields, planting banana trees, and harvesting produce. And boy, was it hard work! For those of us who work in an office – and even those who work in our stores – this was a different kind of exercise. We got muddy and dirty, some got blisters, others got sunburned, but all enjoyed the camaraderie of working outside together on a beautiful day. We were rewarded with lunch from the farm’s wood burning pizza oven, but the best treat of all was taking home some of the fresh produce from the fields.
I combined my Ma‘o lettuce with arugula and thinly sliced radishes and turnips for a great salad that night. Then I chopped the turnip tops and sautéed them in olive oil with pine nuts, garlic, and bit sized pieces of Boar’s Head dry salami and tossed the mixture with buccatini for a great pasta dish. Everything tasted so fresh and it was especially great knowing that the products came fresh from the farm in Wai‘anae.
If you haven’t heard of Ma‘o Farms, you might want to check out their website at maoorganicfarms.org . Or better yet, come and try their great products at Foodland Farms Aina Haina  or Sack N Save Nanakuli  starting later this week!