And so community life begins. I will spend my summer with 45 other apprentices at the UCSC Farm & Garden. We will live, work, and learn together everyday for the next 6 months.
I want to introduce you to the Garden. The history and magic of this place is immense, but I won’t go into all of that right now. I just want to show you what I see. A steep, south facing hillside in the redwoods above Santa Cruz. About 2 1/2 acres covered in a thin 18″ sheath of black gold set down by 40+ years of back breaking work.
The calm and ease with which Milton Agader slowly navigates his silver pick-up through the rows of his 300 acre farm in Waialua attest to a life dedicated to working the ‘aina or the land of Hawaii. In its ten years of existence Twin Bridge Farms has carved itself a healthy niche among the local food producers of Oahu and their popular asparagus can be found at the Whole Foods, Foodland, and other major groceries around the island.
Tucked away and hidden amongst the North Shore’s old pineapple and sugar plantation land is Mohala Farms, a small six acre organic farm sitting at foot of Oahu’s tallest peak, Mt. Ka’ala. The fierce waves that bring both the world’s best surfers and hoards of eager spectators to this small stretch of swell-battered coast every winter look tiny and unmenacing from Mohala’s vantage point atop the beginnings of the Wahiawa plateau in the Kamananui Ahupua’a. The vibrant red soil that makes this area famous has sustained decades of harsh mono-crop agriculture. If you ate a Dole pineapple before the 1970’s there was a good chance it was grown in this nutrient and iron rich old Hawaiian soil and up until 1993 the Dole cannery still operated a short way down the road from Mohala’s current location. It was the end the cannery and of Dole’s major pineapple and sugar plantations in this region that gave birth to Mohala Farms. The practice of industrial agriculture depleted the area of its rich nutrients and the land lay fallow for over a decade covered in six-foot tall Guinea grass until Mark Hamamoto and Kathy Maddux began cutting back the giant weeds and started planting a wide variety of crops six years ago.
Since January I have been working five days a week on a six acre organic farm on Oahu’s North Shore called Mohala Farm and starting this week on my days off I am visiting farms, markets, and restaurants around the island for my new internship as a 2012 Food Warrior for Real Time Farms in Hawaii. The Food Warrior Program is an opportunity for interns to go out and document the food system while helping build the Real Time Farms growing online food guide. So I am now spending seven days a week either working on a farm or visiting a different island farm!
SO EXCITING! I hope you think so, too.