Mahalo Monday: Ka'ala Farm
Tucked away down a dirt road in the Wai'anae Valley is a true hidden gem.
WAIANAE, Hawaii - Tucked away down a dirt road in the Wai'anae Valley is a true hidden gem.
Eric Enos is the executive director of the cultural learning center at Ka'ala Farm.
"Our mission is to bring back the community and bring back families to abundance," Enos said.
"This ancient land, he says, was once "the poi bowl" or "food basket" of the Wai'anae coast," Enos said.
When the water was diverted for sugar cane fields, Hawaiian families were uprooted and their traditions and connection to the land, he says, were almost lost.
Now, the water flows again, as does all that comes with it.
"We brought back a healthy forest with native plants and then with native people and with native food. We're making the connection to people to their Aina, to their watershed, to their food and to their culture," Enos said.
It starts with visits to schools in Wai'anae and Nanakuli.
From there, Ka'ala becomes a classroom where people reconnect to their culture.
It was life-changing for Clinton Kala-Mahiai, who now volunteers and tends to the lo'i patches.
"Malama Aina, that's what made me come back here. After seeing all the hard work that we put into it and how our hard work looks at the end, there's no better fulfillment than that," Kala-Mahiai said.
The cultural center is open to all, regardless of their ancestry.
The center holds community and o'hana days each month, staying true to its mission of connecting people back to the Aina.
Guiding them along the way, is Ka'eha Lenchanko, a loyal volunteer who says it's his kuleana to teach the next generation.
He started this seed bank of native plants like taro and breadfruit.
His hope is to see the land flourish like it once did.
"If we come together, work together, get the land flourishing again, we can become that sustainable community again. We won't have to rely on outside resources; we'll have everything we need in our back yard, right in our community," Lenchanko said.
"This type of lifestyle can live on, and it should live on forever," Kala-Mahiai said.
As our way of saying mahalo for all of the hard work the team of volunteers at Ka'ala puts in, Island News teamed up with Jack in the Box and the Bite Squad to deliver them lunch.