Mention Maui and visions of sandy beaches, surfers, palm trees, and umbrella drinks come to mind. Maui certainly has all those things, but dive past the postcard perfect shoreline, and you’ll find that Maui’s unique microclimates and wealth of fertile volcanic soil also make it prime farming land. Here are three spots to get an authentic taste of homegrown aloha.
Maui Gold Pineapple Farm
It’s almost impossible to think of Hawaii without thinking of pineapples. Tropical, sweet, and juicy, pineapples taste of smiles and sunshine. Go right to the source with Maui Pineapple Tours. If you’ve ever wanted to frolic through golden pineapple fields (not recommended—pineapples are spiky), this is the place to do it since it is the only working pineapple farm in the U.S. you can tour. You’ll visit the Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation, home to the trademark Maui Gold pineapple, a variety prized for its sweet flavor and low acidity. Check out the packing and shipping factory, head out to the farm, and eat as much pineapple as you’d like, straight from the fields.
You will leave with sticky fingers, a Maui Gold for the road, and more knowledge about pineapples than you’ll know what to do with (like how to select a good pineapple at home, the best way to cut and core it, even how to grow your own pineapple plant from the crown of the one you just ate).
BURYING your nose in a bunch of lavender or running your hands along a hedge in full flower is one of life’s pleasures. Whether it’s an old-fashioned rose, a small bunch of freshly picked violets or a pungent herb, the heady smell is a reminder of the joy that nature – and gardening – bring to our lives.
Lilac trees hold a special place in my heart. My mother grew them in Nottingham and she picked the flowers in spring to bring inside so we could enjoy the delicate blooms and revel in their beautiful perfume. Likewise with sweet peas, which she grew in abundance every year.
An Australian friend got quite teary in the 1960s when he came across some gum trees while in the Canary Islands, which shows how evocative a fragrance can be.
No garden is complete without something exuding an aroma, be it a tree, vine, shrub, ground cover or herb – unless, of course, you’re highly allergic. So let’s start from the ground up.
Obvious flowers that have a delicate smell are violets, but they can be a curse when they multiply, unless you go for native violets (Viola hederacea), which aren’t quite so prolific. Dianthus or pinks (smaller relatives of carnations) have a very sweet smell. Lily of the valley has a lovely perfume and flowers on Caulfield Cup Day, but I find them tricky to grow. Then there are the many heavily scented spring-flowering bulbs such as freesias and jonquils.
Throughout September Maui farmers, ranchers, local food producers and friends of agriculture are teaming up to celebrate local food. We do this because we believe that agriculture matters on Maui.
Grown on Maui Chef Demos at Whole Foods Market
Maui every Monday in September, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
September 6 Tylun Pang, The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui
September 12 Garret Fujieda, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
September 19 Caroline Schaub O’o Farm
September 26 Ryan Luckey, Pineapple Grill at Kapalua Resort
Grown on Maui Flower Demos at Whole Foods Market
Maui every Tuesday in September, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
September 6 Sue Cuffe, Hana Fantasy Flowers
September 12 Carver Wilson, Maui Floral
September 19 Dan Judson, Orchids of Olinda
September 26 Maui Flower Growers Association
Wednesdays From 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. the Weed & Pot Club activities at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens will focus on Hawaiian food plant propagation and maintenance.
Monday-Friday Maui Pineapple Tour presents pineapple heritage tours at the newly established Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation.
Tour Da Food: Experience the dishes that characterize Maui cuisine, learn about the traditions and people behind the plates, soak up a sense of place with intimate excursions to Maui’s off-the touristpath culinary treasures and come away with a deeper understanding of Maui’s multicultural community and history.
Every Tuesday – Ali’i Kula Lavender is offering $1 cups of tea and 50% off guided tours.
Eat Local Challenge 2011! – Maui residents and businesses participate in the statewide initiative organized by Kanu Hawai‘i.
We were poking around upcountry Maui and driving its narrow, twisting roads, but by midafternoon we had to turn around. We had an important date at a lower elevation.
Forget meeting friends for mai-tais or heading to Lahaina for the sunset. We were going to herd the animals at Surfing Goat Dairy.
Herding anything may be the last activity one considers for a Maui vacation. But the dairy is one of several island farms that have opened for public tours over the last few years. They offer the chance to explore the island’s back roads, meet the growers and learn something about the exotic fruits, vegetables and cheeses you’ll encounter and enjoy on Maui.
“It’s a growing national trend,” says Maui resident Charlene Kauhane, a board member of the Hawaii Agri-Tourism Association. “Visitors are looking for authentic experiences, for opportunities where they can meet locals and buy local.”
And sometimes, you just want a break from the beach. So let’s go down on the farm on Maui.
Alii Kula Lavender Farm
Even before you arrive, you’ll detect Alii Kula Lavender Farm from the lovely fragrance wafting over Upcountry. It comes from 45 lavender varieties planted over 10 acres in Haleakala’s foothills. You can meander over paths on your own, or join one of the walking tours. You’ll learn about lavender’s culinary uses and healthful benefits, as well as the farm’s dedication to practicing agriculture in a sustainable way.
Alii Lavender also offers workshops in wreath making and container gardens, and other special events.
Ag tourism, marketing leaders are planting, watering seeds of interest with isle students
KAHULUI – At first glance, it’s hard to recognize the plot of land in Kahului filled with weeds, grass and natural debris. On second look, a couple picnic benches come into view and the nearby area, which was once a thriving banana plantation, becomes slightly more discernible.
However – the only thing Pomai and Lani Weigert see at the Maui High School farmland – is potential, acres and acres of it.
The mother-daughter team of ag tourism and marketing leaders are launching a pilot program to revitalize agricultural studies at MHS, Pomai’s alma mater, in hopes of harvesting future farmers and agricultural enthusiasts for Maui County.
As a result of the MHS farm replanting effort that started last month and two days of agriculture field trips, their efforts are already yielding results.
“Ag and food services have never had registration like how they have now,” MHS agriculture teacher Ian Lowland said. “Instantly the word got around: Cool stuff is going on in agriculture. They’ve been an integral part of all of this.”
MHS senior Sarah Bam said she realizes that agricultural skills are important for all people, especially those living in Hawaii: “Everybody should know how to plant and grow their own food.”
“Grown on Maui” Agriculture Tour: Connecting People to Their Food
Guided tour meets at Whole Foods and begins with continental breakfast. First, tour Hali’imaile Pineapple Company, then enjoy a gourmet lunch at O’o Farm, followed by lavender chocolate gelato and a tour of Ali’I Kula Lavender Farm. Returns to Whole Foods at 3:00pm. Developed by Hawaii AgriTourism Association and Akina Aloha Tours. Destinations are subject to change, but will always feature locally-grown produce.
Phone: Akina Aloha Tours 808-879-2828
In northern gardens, poppies are the languid wildlings of summer, the stuff of picnics in the meadow and memorable afternoons. They can be tricked into a great show in the Washington garden, where they explode on the scene in May, linger for two or three weeks collectively and then shrivel in the face of the accumulating heat.
They are part of an enormous late-spring bacchanalia that begins with clematis and peonies and embraces catmint, larkspur and the first of the roses and lavender. Even in this crowd, poppies seem outlanders from the north, and their show is all the more tasty for its sense of migration.
Perennial oriental poppies are outrageous in their size and markings, but if their bloom coincides with a precocious hot spell, as it usually does, the show is over before it begins. Annual poppies flower around the same time, but their smaller size is compensated by lots of buds, successively offered. Even in the heat, they have a tangible season.
Now is the moment to buy poppy seed. Getting it to sprout can be a little hit-or-miss, so poppy maniacs sow seed in November, after the fallen leaves have been cleared or mulched, and again in February. Keep the February seeds safely stored in the refrigerator over the winter and make a note on your iPoppy to sprinkle them around Valentine’s Day.
This tour will start at the University of Hawaii Maui Campus Culinary Academy for a “Behind the Scenes Tour” of the State of the Art facility and continental breakfast of locally sourced products. Once you’ve satisfied your appetite the tour will continue to the Hali’imaile Pineapple Company, where the staff shares a brief history of growing pineapple on Maui and how their farming operations has evolved today. See how pineapple is grown and learn the interesting facts about choosing the sweetest pineapple in the supermarket.
Then it’s off to lunch at the O’o farm, where a plethora of different crops are grown. Providing a unique culinary experience of using the freshest farm ingredients, prepared in creative ways that bring forth all the delicious flavors nature has to offer. After lunch, it’s on to Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, where the tour starts on a sweet note of creamy Lavender Chocolate Gelato. Take the first and only Lavender walking tour and discover the “Language of Flowers”. Buy a Lavender Scone for the road and find out why these scones are so famous!
* Breakfast and Behind the Scenes tour of University of Hawaii Maui campus.
* Pineapple tour and tasting at Hali’imaile Pineapple Tours
* Gourmet Lunch and Tour at O’o Organic Farm
* Ali’I Kula Lavender Walking Tour and Dessert
**Advanced Reservations are required! Call 808-891-4604. Click here for more information.