Tag Archives: USDA Grants

I Had This Idea For A Farm Tour

I had this idea for a Scenic Farm Tour…

We acquired this beautiful bus from the Old Maui Pineapple company auction. It had been used by Kapalua Hotel as a shuttle.

Maui Country Farm Tours Van  When things began to change on Maui and the economy got crazy, I thought let’s do something we might really enjoy that could also bring attention to the farms on Maui. I was especially concerned when I heard that we could run out of food in a week and a half, if the ships stopped coming to our island. This was shocking to think that in a perfect climate we weren’t growing enough food to sustain the population, when Hawaiians had survived here for over eight hundred years living off the land and the sea.

I knew that the sugar cane was diminishing and Maui has the only working sugar plantation in the state. I envisioned the future of Hawaii as a series of cottage crops all over the island sustaining the people. But how will this get started if young people don’t take interest in farming and agriculture? The average farmer is sixty years old. Kula Country Farms was started by young farmers Chauncey Monden and Teena Monden, growing pumpkins, corn, onions, strawberries, herbs, flowers and whatever is in season. The Lavender Farm, “Ali`i Kula Lavender” is thriving and carrying on the legacy of Ali`i Chang it’s founder and providing scholarships to the youth of Maui who qualify to learn the business of agriculture. Lani and Pomai Weigert have traveled around the US and Canada teaching what they have learned about their successful “Country Chic” Brand.   I recently attended the “Added-Value” Workshop sponsored by Market Fresh Bistro in Makawao where several of Hawaii’s growers shared information on product creativity, product development and their stories of how they put together their businesses. Lani shared how they received their first $100,000.00 USDA added-value grant. Added-Value means products. I learned so much about products created for sale from ingredients Grown On Maui. For more information on Grants go to Grants.gov  We are so inspired by Lani Weigert  of the Lavender Farm and now Pomai  Weigert and Koa Chang who run operations. As they explain, originally they marketed to the seniors and now they are focusing on the youth.

Koa Chang of Ali`i Kula Lavender

I began the process of marketing when I created my books, The Amaryllis of Hawaii series, what a ride. I have been an organic gardener since twenty-five years old, I love to cook, and do every creative thing I can get my hands on. I have a burning desire to share with the world so I offer it daily via Twitter, Facebook, Flicker and You-Tube. Coming soon, much more video teaching of how to cook, how to plant and how to create whatever I’m up to at the time such as card-making, sewing, quilting, painting on tees, plant a tree, planting bulbs, making a pie-crust, lemon-meringue pie, apple pies, pumpkin pies, lilikoi jelly, stuffing a turkey and the whole day. I’m also a registered nurse and really enjoy giving that added attention to my guests.

Amaryllis of Hawaii By Marilyn Jansen

So, I thought why not create a country farm tour. I LOVE country and everything nostalgic about  country living. I live Up-Country on Maui on the slopes of Haleakala. It’s quiet, with chickens and roosters crowing in the distance and peacocks too. There’s a pig farm nearby and on some mornings we hear deer nearby. My husband knows the sound they make. On Sundays there’s no traffic passing by so you really get the feel of what Maui must have been like in the olden days.

Kula Country Farms

Aloha from Kula Country Farms

I wanted to take people back to a simpler place and time. I wanted to go there myself. So we started Maui Country Farm Tours “Sharing Maui’s Agricultural Beauty” and presented at The Maui Ag Festival 2011. People responded with great interest. It seems the Food Movement across the world is taking hold and people do want to know where their food is grown. Locavore is becoming a household word.

So here we go. I thought why not pick up people at Whole Foods (a great starting point and a wonderful supporter of local farmers) then take them on a scenic drive where local people might go on a Sunday drive. We go to Ho`okipa to check out the magnificent surf, then head up to the country.

Since my husband was born and raised in the Pineapple Camp (Hali`i Maile) we journey through pineapple country which is also diminishing since Maui Pineapple was sold in 2010. Now the boutique Pineapple company Hali`i Maile Pineapple sells the Maui Gold Pineapple and grow on approximately 1200 acres. They have pineapple tours, also. We tell the story of my husband’s experiences growing up in the camp then head on over to scenic Ulupalakua. The best part about this is actually slowing down long enough to feel the quiet, to relax under one hundred and fifty year old trees and picnic on the ranch.

Next we stop at Kula Country Farms overlooking all of  West Maui. My goal was to get people excited about the beauty and the products of Maui. Teena and Chauncey have created a charming farm stand on an actual working farm with chickens, goats, and changing colorful crops year round. The hands on strawberry picking, Feb-May and Pumpkin time Sept-Oct makes it a great activity for families on Maui.

We arrive at the Lavender Farm for Tea and scones then take an amazing walking tour and fill our pockets with scented lavender, geraniums and the story of the farm.

I started with the popular farms, but with over eight hundred farms on Maui it is truly my goal to introduce others that qualify for tours. I plan to visit as many as possible and do virtual tours at first to bring attention to their products and hopefully interest more and more people around the world about everything that comes out of our islands.

Of Course we go to Surfing Goat Dairy and we love the pride they have fortheir farm and the cheese making process!

Charlene Kauhane of Kauhane Inc. is responsible for promoting Maui County Farm Bureau and hosted several Grown on Maui events in the month of September. See Maui County Farm Bureau

I’m hoping you will spread the word and everyone who takes our tour writes a review at Tripadvisor.com by typing in Maui Country Farm Tours to find us or clicking on the link above, and then clicking on Write Review.

We’ve got Coffee Tours in the works and the Story of Chocolate by Melanie Boudar, the Sweet Paradise Chocolatier coming soon…

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Promises… promises…

Call me to book a tour at 808 283-9131 and call me with any questions you might have about farms on Maui. If we don’t know we’ll find out for you.

I get a lot of calls about Kula Country Farms. You can check out their page on Facebook.




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