Homesteading is overwhelming, and all the more so if you have high ideals about living lightly and are trying to do things in new ways. Let's see, since coming to Hawai'i we have studied up on and/or are trying to: make fish fertilizer and vermicompost, raise soldier fly larvae, make biochar and Natural Farming amendments, start up aquaponics for fish and greens, install solar and hydropower, create forest gardens and permaculture, grow chicken forage, raise rabbits without purchased feed, and raise as much of our own fruits and vegetables as possible. Maybe we are doing too much at once? Two lessons I have recently learned from other small farmers have reinforced the importance of taking small steps.
Honopua Farm was started as a commercial flower farm more than 30 years ago by Bill and Marie McDonald. Marie, who has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institution as a living treasure, is an outstanding authority on Hawaiian flowers and lei making and has authored several books on the subject. The name of the farm, Honopua, means "a gathering of flowers."
Hubbell's Hog Heaven & Liz's Happy Hens: A Farm Tour by Elizabeth Cannon, self-published in July of this year, is a book about an innovative one-and-a-half acre Natural Farming project near Pāhoa, Puna on Hawai'i Island. Liz and her husband Mike Hubbell had farmed organically on the mainland for over 30 years. But when they retired to Puna six years ago they decided to farm their mostly lava-covered land using Dr. Cho's Korean Natural Farming Method. They attended several Natural Farming presentations and even took a trip to Korea to experience well-established Natural Farming methods first-hand. This gives an idea of how serious they have been about their project.
In addition, Liz and Mike were assisted and encouraged by UH CTAHR Hilo Ag Extension Agent and Hawai'i piggery expert, Mike Dupont. Mike wrote a grant for Liz and Mike's initial piggery and has been instrumental in promoting their pig and chicken projects.
Brynn Foster started her personal voyage to develop healthy food products from indigenous Hawaiian crops in 2005. As a young mother, she was dedicated to finding healthy foods for her children. Motivated by a lack of commercially available teething biscuits free from refined sugar, diary, and gluten, Foster’s first product was a taro-based teething biscuit.
I moved to Hawai'i Island close to three years ago, straight from a desk job in a small city in the northwest U.S., to my lifetime dream of learning to live off the land. My kids were mostly grown, and I was disillusioned with the effectiveness of my job as an environmental health educator. I had a new partner who shared my desire to go "back to the garden." But unlike me, Dan had planned ahead and owned 20 acres off-grid along the Hamakua coast of the Big Island.