Kamuela, Hawai`i Island
Hirabara Farm is one of the most beloved groups of tireless co-producers we are honored to call family. In the quiet country of Kamuela, Hawai`i Island, Uncle Kurt and Auntie Pam Hirabara are at work answering the question: If the ships stop coming, how will we eat? The single most important realization that has arisen for them is this: Everything begins with the soil. The health of the community that cushions our feet determines the health of every single other organism on this island, and our planet. Day in and day out, the Hirabaras work to design better soil — not by dominating it with pesticides, but — by listening to it. Why? When the soil has what it needs — the way an artist is able to create when she has her favorite materials at hand — the food she crafts from seed to fruit is unmatched. We don’t really want to just know how to survive. We long to know how to live.
Photo by Gemini Connect
On the eastern shores of O`ahu, midway up the He`eia ahupua`a, sits 400 acres of land being restored to its ancestral function, one lo`i at a time. To see what Kanekoa Kukea-Shultz and his team of passionate co-owners have accomplished is to fully understand the role that `āina plays in native Hawai`i's identity — and in truth, all of our identities. What the ancestral practice of raising kalo symbolizes goes far beyond food — it really speaks to our fundamental relationship to the land, to the seasons, and to the future present.
Paepae O He`eia
You would think the most extraordinary thing about Paepae O He`eia is that they've spent the better part of a decade restoring an 800-year-old native Hawaiian fishpond to working order. What astounds us even more than this, however, is that it isn't glamorous work — there's no fame — yet their team is meticulous, thorough, deeply passionate and laser-focused on what is one of the most incredible stories in Hawai`i's modern history. With the help of thousands of community members, the site has become a phenomenal testament to the will of a community, and the wisdom of our kupuna.
MA`O Organic Farms
On its face, MA`O Organic Farms appears to be a vibrant farm full of young, tenacious next-generation farmers. Underneath the surface, however, one finds that MA`O is in many ways as much about farming as it is about fostering a powerful, resilient, loving and conscious community of curious youth — but perhaps those two things aren't really different after all. Through their years of dedication to improving Hawai`i's food solvency, they have also created one of the most extraordinary and exuberant communities of self-reliant, responsible and consummately pono individuals.
Ho Farms is a family business par excellence. Every member of their `ohana is intimately invested in one or another aspects of running a thriving business founded on solid principles. Perhaps best known for some of the most consistently delicious cherry tomatoes on island (you can find them in most supermarkets), the Ho Family prides itself on being one of the best local produce companies, period. In 2007, they were awarded the Hawaii Seal of Quality, and are one of the few Food Safety Certified farms in Hawai`i. In pursuit of a cleaner ecological footprint, they have invested heavily in technologies and techniques that allow them to grow consistently large crops of produce without using heavy pesticides.
Photo: O`ahu Fresh
And many more.
Why do we call them co-producers?
Together, we co-author the world in which we want to live, and which we want to give to our grandchildren. In that spirit, all of us — even you, dear reader — are co-producers. How we eat, how we live, how we listen, how we love. Every movement upon the land, every footprint, every crop hoped for and harvested helps to shape our world, indicate our values and tell a story about who we are as a community.
Why do they matter?
We serve the needs of the `āina first and foremost because we recognize that stewardship, not domination, holds the door to our future. Where we listen openly to each other, to the land, to the ocean, to the seasons. Where we learn to dance with the changes, treating obstacles as opportunities to improvise. Where we gather, gather, gather, celebrating in community the beauty we are only capable of creating together.
What makes a co-producer different from a farmer?
Their endless toil, their long hours, and the late nights spent awake, asking the questions too big for the rest of us. As they struggle, in service of their community, we hope to do right by them — to turn the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor into something delicious, so that we might co-produce a better world together.