We believe that natural and fresh food is fundamental to a healthy lifestyle. Our mission is to grow quality produce while engaging with the community of Honolulu by providing a roadside veggie stand, selling directly at Farmlovers Farmers Markets, and offering family-friendly farm activities and events. – ‘MA Farm website
‘MA Farm began in 2019, when Bruce Campbell became inspired to help his friend who faced homelessness, struggling to find work. Realizing that his friend would benefit from a space to use his talents, Bruce contacted Manai’a Cassava Plantation, a farm in Hawaii Kai that he had previously helped with a grant application. They pointed Bruce to a small, abandoned cucumber farm, an acre and a half lot, totally engulfed in weeds. Bruce saw an opportunity to both revive the cucumbers, help his friend, and create a positive impact through restoring and diversifying this little farm.
Calling on the help of hired farm hands, volunteers, and community, Bruce and his wife Hatsumi worked with a team to bring the nine remaining greenhouses back to life. These structures, covered with a white mesh, serve as protection for the plants against bugs and other animals, allowing the plants to grow pest-free, without the use of pesticides. Many helping hands assisted to resurrect plant beds, pull up weeds, and restore and rebuild the soil. Within the first year, ‘MA farms was in action, organically growing food for the people of O’ahu. And they make use of some great old organic farming techniques, such as diluted dish soap baths for their Hawaiian Rainbow lettuce mix!
An essential element of bringing something into being is naming it. “MA was originally Makana ‘Aina, meaning ‘gift of the living earth’,” Bruce tells us. “Some workers had problems pronouncing the name, so we shortened it to ‘MA, honoring Mother Earth as well as my own mother who was a lifelong gardener and daily maker of salads for our family.”
Always drawn to farming, Bruce had developed his skills years ago in the eco-minded community of Auroville, India, while living in an agriculture community, and then further honed his abilities at the University of Hawaii’s School of Tropical Agriculture. In both locations, he worked closely with the land and developed a fascination for farming food. After graduating from University of Hawaii, Bruce went on to work in technology, from which he now pulls to advance ‘MA’s farming systems to automate the irrigation and to track their planting and harvesting times.
Bruce understands the need for the younger generation to get involved in agriculture, given the number of older folks retiring from their farms. He gratefully witnesses a growing enthusiasm amongst the youth. Four of his farmhands come from the nearby Kaiser High School and assist with many of the farm’s operations. Moving forward, Bruce envisions the Kamilonui Valley farming community uniting even more, perpetuating the agricultural history of this Hawaii Kai valley, and sharing the fresh produce with the community, inspiring the following generations of farmers.
Tucked into the back of Kamilonui Valley, this “micro farm”, as Bruce fondly calls it, is currently serving the people of O’ahu with fresh, organic, salad fixings. They have also started valuable partnerships with other local entrepreneurs such as Oahu Organics, an all local, all organic skin care line (which you may have read about in our January 2021 article!) You can find ‘MA’s produce at the Farm Lover’s Saturday and Sunday Farmers markets, Tuesdays at the Kaiser High School Farmers market, and daily the stand in front of ‘Ma Farms at Kamilonui Place in Hawaii Kai. Keep on the lookout for ‘MA’s organic salad-variety CSA box, coming soon!
“In a way I’ve come back to the ‘aina,” says Bruce, “It’s very healing to work with the plants. When you’re out in the land you forget about the commotion of society.” ‘MA Farm embodies Bruce’s vision for a community more closely connected to its land.
For more information about ‘MA Farm go to: http://mafarm.org/
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