What is the name of your Farm, Ranch, or Homestead?
The name of our farm is Hua Moa Farms. Hua Moa is the name of a popular Polynesian cooking banana. It also means “chicken egg” in Hawaiian. We grow several varieties of both cooking and eating bananas and we also raise chickens, hence the inspiration for our name.
Where are you located?
We are located on the Big Island of Hawaii in the Puna District. The rainy side of the island, located on lava flows between 1000 and 3000 years old. We are surrounded by native rain forest.
How and/or when did life as farmers begin for you?
Peter’s interest in farming began at 14 years of age, when he realized plants can be medicine as well as food. Over the next few years he built many gardens and worked for growers that provide food boxes to their communities through a program known as community supported agriculture or CSA for short. Jen’s interest began when she met Peter on Hawaii Island in 2010 and started helping develop the farm.
What do you grow and raise?
We grow over 200 varieties of plants, herbs, vegetables, ornamentals, exotic fruit and nut trees. Much of what we grow is for our personal consumption or pleasure (we are plant collectors). Our main “cash” crops which we are still developing, include Hawaiian Chili Peppers, Bananas, Cacao, Green Tea, Mamaki (a native Hawaiian medicinal plant), Patchouli and other herbs. We also raise honeybees and are working to expand our hive operations.
What traditional methods do you use on your farm to grow your crops and/or raise your animals?
We are a non-traditional farm. Peter grew up in Portland, Oregon where he learned about biodynamic, organic, and permaculture farming. We do not have any “mono-crop” plantings or row planting in the traditional way. Everything is interplanted with other species. We are also non-traditional in that the land we are on was created by Kilauea Volcano approximately 1,000 years ago. Because of this we do not have very much soil and we spend a lot of energy into soil creation and amendments. This includes creating biochar, mulch, and vermicompost to apply to our plantings. We also import soil from other parts of the island and add our amendments to that soil. An important part of our farm is our Kona Nightingale rescue donkeys. They help mow the grass and provide an onsite source of fertilizer.
What is one of your favorite farm-infused recipes you wish to share?
One of our favorite recipes for cooling off after working the farm in the hot Hawaiian sun is a tropical Limeade. It is made by blending several fruits (about 1 cup) known as Lulo, with the juice of a couple fresh limes (about 3/4 cup) in a blender on medium-low setting so as not to produce too many bubbles. Add 6 cups water and 3/4 cup Honey blend for about 30 seconds more then pour through a mesh strainer and serve with ice. Makes about 1/2 gal. Very refreshing!
What is at least one farm tradition your family upholds?
As we stated earlier we are not very traditional in our farming methods but we do have a tradition of making compost. On a daily basis we add our food scraps and excess garden trimmings to our worm bins where the worms are going about their daily lives and creating some of the richest compost available for us to use on our plants. Also know as Worm Castings.
What inspires you to continue a farm lifestyle?
What inspires us to keep farming is the health-inducing lifestyle where hard work, good food and fresh air combine with the joy of working with nature to produce a healthy existence.
What words of inspiration or uplifting wisdom do you hope to impart on our future generations of farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, and homesteaders?
If the future farmers commit to farming responsibly one can see how it is possible for each and every person to be part of a healthy happy exchange of energy bringing people together and making the world a better place. As we know “you reap what you sow”.
Hawaiian Holiday Gifts – Shop Hua Moa Farms
Jen and Peter’s assorted array of from-the-farm products can be purchased via the Hua Moa Farms Etsy Shop or a few are available via eBay. You can also follow Jen and Peter’s farm lifestyle on Instagram @huamoafarms.
Let us know what you thought of this blog post in the comments below. Happy Holidays!