Tag Archives: Lani Weigert

TedxMaui January 13, 2013

It’s time for TedxMaui 2013. When I first heard of Tedxtalks I hadn’t a clue. I’d heard they were going on all over the United States and the world. People were giving the twenty minute talk of their life about technology, education and design. They were meant to inspire, enlighten and make this world a better place. I watched a few talks, one about vulnerability, how it was okay to be vulnerable human beings, others by inventors and designers of amazing sculptures that intrigue and shock one to move and rescue as it appears to fall and then rights itself. A twelve year old talked of sustainability and neighborhood gardens in New York City. Award winning journalist Amy Cortese spoke about Locavesting and how a community could be transformed by investing in the local businesses within a fifty mile radius. All this inspired me to support and  bring attention to local farmers on Maui and to dream of ways to grow food on our island by representing Ag Tourism and sharing Maui’s Agricultural Beauty. Dr. Arthur Medeiros taught us about Auwahi: Hope on a Hawaiian Volcano.  Together with Ulupalakua Ranch owner Pardee Erdman, he is doing a restoration project of our native Hawaiian plants. We can do our part to continue the restoration project. It’s a ten year old forest that is truly inspiring and hopeful.
The opening act TedxMaui2012  TAIKO DRUMMERS took the stage.
I was blown away. It was exciting and beautiful. We took our seats in the lovely Castle Theater at the Maui Arts and Culture Center with all our friends from Social media. The word had spread through Twitter and Facebook.

The very first speaker Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey was captivating and beautiful. Her talk “Ancient Wisdom For A Modern World” made us realize that in our busy, rushing about world we miss so much. It is important to slow down and feel and just be.

When I arrived at Tedxmaui2012 it was with eager anticipation to hear two of my favorite ladies, Lani and Pomai Weigert, speak. Lani is Co-Founder of the Ali`i Kula Lavender Farm and Pomai is her daughter who practically grew up on the farm. She had turned in her glamorous life of travel and tourism for the country chic life of the Lavender Farm. Together they coined the phrase “Sustainable Aloha” and with Ali`i Chang, who passed away in 2011, they created the renowned farm in Up-Country Maui. Nothing like it had ever been done. By partnering with local product makers of jellys, jams, gelato, scones, chocolates, coffees, teas, they enhanced our community and with Lani’s marketing genius they put Ali`i Kula Lavender on the map all over the world. Ag-Tourism has become a new phenomenon and they became my inspiration to become a part of the farm to table movement on Maui.

These are the three talks that stand out in my mind. The amazing Paula Fuga, singer, songwriter and once the face of homelessness told her story of being a young girl living with her parents on the beach at Sand Island in Honolulu with nothing…nothing but a tarp to cover themselves with when it rained. I was moved to tears. She was asked once “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and she saw herself on a stage performing for a crowd with a blue light shining on her as she sang, but she replied “A teacher.” She kept her dream to herself so no one would try to destroy it. She knew the importance of keeping negativity out of her life. Even though it appeared to be a hopeless situation she knew somewhere deep inside herself there was hope and she must believe that she was here for a much bigger purpose. There was a dream and to achieve that dream one must have a plan, and pursue it with all their heart.  Then she sang and played ukulele for us and again at the after party for TedxMaui 2012. I downloaded her CD “Lilikoi” and fell in love with her music. She is such a talented writer with soul and feeling. Her voice is deep and moody and jazzy with a melancholy that can’t be denied but still so beautiful.   The mood was hopeful, exciting and happy for Katie Mac and Sara Tekula the producers of TedxMaui 2012. The after party which was included in the ticket was fantastic. Catering was by Dana Pastula of Cafe o’ Lei. The music, dancing and mingling in the afterglow of all the inspiration is difficult to describe. I can only say I was changed and I know everyone was.


Google TedxMaui to see all the amazing speakers and get your tickets for January 13, 2013


Added-Value Workshop for Farmers

Beautiful Ali`i Kula Lavender

 The event was called “Adding Value and Profit to your Farm Operation”. Reggie Knox and Eric Winder were able to create this workshop because of a grant they received at California FarmLink from the Education Division of the Risk Management agency of the USDA. Reggie had owned an 11 acre organic farm for four years. He is passionate about helping farmers. They are knowledgable of succession planting, leases and purchases and creative financing for farmers.

There were about thirty guests that carpooled from Market Fresh Bistro. Many prominent farm owners were there, as well as those interested in learning more about the value-added products and how to obtain grants.

On arrival we were met by Pomai Weigert and Harrison. We split into two groups for the walking tour.

Harrison, Pomai and Reggie

This time I was in the group led by Harrison who did a wonderful presentation of the Lavender Farm.



                                    Eric Winder

Lani Weigert gave a wonderful presentation about how they grew the business and how they received a Value-added Grant.


We all proceed to Naalae Road for the Watanabe Vegetable Processing tour.

 Heidi told the story of their farm where they provide fresh cut fruits and vegetables for local hotels schools and other markets. They grow lettuces, leeks, cabbage and more for over 28 years on this land in Kula.

Reggie Knox

After the tours, everyone headed back to meet  Market Fresh Bistro owners Chef Justin Pardo, his sister Olivia Coletti and David Magenheim. Excellent local food was being prepared while we listened to presentations by Ken Love of Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers about jams, jellies, sauces, the basics of navigating start-up and regulations, packaging ideas, product ideas and more.  Vincent Mina showed us the story of his green sprouts operations from conception to the present. Susan Wyche, University of Hawaii spoke of the millions of dollars she was able to obtain for Maui Community College through her Grant writing in the last 8 months and offered to assist others in the process. Lynn Alborino Food and Drug Inspector; Layne Belen Sanitation Inspector Hawaii Dept. of  Health gave helpful information on Food Safety.


Eric wrapped it up with a slide show about creative financing strategies and Grants. We had some questions and then it was time for Justin to present the food. I was starving… At 5:30 PM Justin gave a short but passionate talk about why he insists on using local ingredients and supporting the farmers on our island. He told the story of how he got started in New York City and did all the shopping at farmer’s markets. He was so appreciative of the farmers that drove two hours from the country to deliver their beautiful food to the city for sale to chefs and the public. At Market Fresh Bistro they are nearly 85-95% local. That is terriffic!


Sorry I didn’t get pictures of the lovely Olivia, David and Justin…

We had a wonderful dinner of local greens, tomatoes, sprouts, broccolini, quinoa and delicious meatballs (Maui Cattle Company) in an amazing sauce with fresh homemade focaccia to dip in the juice. Rich chocolate brownies were served too. During the talks I smelled so many spices and fresh ingredients like ginger, garlic, currie and the meatballs cooking.
Thank you Justin, Olivia and David for sponsoring this event.
 Reggie and Eric you were terriffic. I learned so much and was privileged to sit next to Lani Weigert who inspires so many of us. Ken Love was amazing with his knowledge, enthusiasm and humor. Vince was energetic, informative, creative and funny too. All the presenters were fabulous. I was very glad to meet Jeff Ferguson Maui Grown Coffee and Steve Rose of Lipoa Farmer’s Market too. Loved having dinner with Chef Susan Teton.
Next time you’re on Maui call me to book a tour with Maui Country Farm Tours. 808 283-9131