By Dagny Brand
Kahumana Organic Farms is not only a sustainable and diverse farm, but it is a larger nonprofit organization working to better the Hawaiian community in many different ways. Kahumana Food Hub, which grew quickly in response to the pandemic, works to promote local agriculture and support backyard farmers, contributing greatly to Hawaii’s food resiliency. “Diversity breeds resiliency, whether it’s in the economy, in nature, or in farming,” said Christian Zuckerman, Farm Manager and Director of Social Ventures at Kahumana Organic Farms, as he explained the importance of gathering food from many small farmers in the community and supporting local in this way. In addition to running the food hub and growing their own diverse selection of crops, Kahumana Organic Farms has many social programs and ventures to support different groups in the community.
The Kahumana Food Hub was launched in 2017 and grew immensely during COVID-19, supporting more farmers and consumers through their relationships with food. Kahumana Organic Farms works with over 100 growers, including backyard, Kupuna, and other small farmers. They aggregate from farms all over Oahu and across the other Hawaiian islands. “We come in and provide a space for growers with a desire and drive to farm but who don’t want to deal with distribution or packaging,” Zuckerman explained. Kahumana Organic Farms buys from these growers, giving them an economic stimulus, and using the produce to diversify the offerings in their CSA and markets. “We are supporting our food system by putting food that would usually go to waste into the food system.” The farm also buys B grade products and fruit from their food hub growers and uses this produce to create value added products from food that would otherwise go to waste. These products include fruit roll-ups, trail mix, many fruit purées, and other minimally processed foods. Zuckerman added that Kahumana Food Hub is always looking to partner with more farmers and welcomes others to reach out anytime to join the hub.
Kahumana Organic Farms is a Certified Organic farm that uses regenerative farming to contribute to Hawaii’s self-sustainability. Located in Waianae, the farm recently broke land on a new production farm just two miles away from the main location, giving them a total of 32 acres of farmland. The farm grows a diverse array of crops including salad greens, organic keiki greens, leafy greens, Asian greens, orange and purple carrots, herbs, and many other vegetables that are too numerous to list. Kahumana Organic Farms also has 400 fruit trees including citrus, ulu, and avocado, some of which are beginning their first blooming seasons. “Everything has a sustainability lens,” said Zuckerman, proud of the farm’s use of permaculture, cover cropping, and composting to maintain the soil and improve the land for the next generation.
As part of their mission to “create a healthy, inclusive, and productive farm-based community,” Kahumana Organic Farms has a housing program for the homeless, a Learning Center for those with developmental disabilities, and many other social programs and ventures. “Every dollar that goes to the farm goes to a much greater cause,” Zuckerman emphasized. The housing program provides temporary housing for homeless with a goal that “when they exit, they have permanent work and housing.” Kahumana Organic Farms achieves this goal by pairing each family with a case manager to help them with personal finance, child day care, benefit programs, and other needs before, after, and during the process and by working with the state to get these families vouchers for permanent low income housing. The farm also has a youth housing program on the North Shore which partners with Rise, Inc. and focuses on homeless youth ranging in age 18-24. The Learning Center at Kahumana Organic Farms offers two programs for people with developmental disabilities, one in Waianae and one in Kailua that partners with the Hawaii Autism Foundation. “The whole program is designed around getting away from more traditional models of care and looking at a more holistic and inclusive approach, which goes back to our core values as a nonprofit,” Zuckerman explained. The program participants take part in every day business on the farm. In addition, the Learning Center has a one on one buddy system after program hours where participants are paired with a support worker and can do everything from laundry to going to the beach together. Along with these programs, Kahumana Organic Farms has social ventures including workforce development opportunities, hands-on activities, a retreat center, a farm to table cafe, and a commercial kitchen which provides school meals sourced 25-50% locally.
Kahumana Organic Farms is proud to be focusing more on providing directly to the community and supporting the local agriculture scene after their COVID-19 pivot. Kahumana Organic Farms offers access to 200-300 different products, including offerings from Kahumana Food Hub and 20-30 other local businesses. The best way to get these products is through their website, as well as their CSA and other CSAs. The farm offers home delivery or pick up at 9 or 10 different locations, meaning products from Kahumana Organic Farms are better tasting, higher quality, and more convenient. The farm is also at the Kaka’ako Farmers’ Market and holds their own farmers’ market on Tuesdays from 12-2:30pm and Saturdays from 9am-12pm. For more information about Kahumana Organic Farms, click here and to explore their many different products, click here.