Under clear blue skies, Team Kōkua, Hawaiian’s employee volunteer group, joined Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Foodland Hawaii for their annual Give Day at West O‘ahu’s MA‘O Organic Farms. MA‘O, which is nestled in Wai‘anae’s Lualualei Valley, oversees 23 acres of productive farmland that has served as an agricultural staple in West O‘ahu for centuries.
Ten Hawaiian employees and several other volunteers donated their Saturday morning to assist MA‘O’s crew, who has been battling a temporary staffing shortage as they await the start of their annual apprenticeship programs. Alongside Farm Manager Kukui Maunakea-Forth, the group split into workgroups and began restoring the lands heavily impacted by Hawai‘i’s recent rainy season.
“Some of us spent the hour weeding, while others cleared rocks,” shared Justin White, specialist of Maintenance Employee Communication at Hawaiian.
“Although what we did may not sound like a very large task, the area we covered was large and is normally maintained by one to two workers at a time,” shared Brighson Tolentino, marketing coordinator of Loyalty and Travel products at Hawaiian, who pulled weeds from the farm’s kale and cilantro plots. “What we weeded out in under an hour and a half saved more than five hours of work for the staff.”
Since 2012, Hawaiian Airlines has supported MA‘O Farms to help fulfill its mission of stewarding local minds and improving access to sustainable, organic foods.
The farm is deeply rooted in improving the social and environmental well-being of the Waianae coast – one of the most food-insecure regions in the state – and has doubled as a community resource. While the farm’s focus is primarily on youth leadership, programs are available to all members of the family – from keiki (children) to kupuna (elders) – and include edupreneurial opportunities, economic development, and culture-based education.
“MA’O Organic Farms is an invaluable resource to the Wai‘anae coast, and has done a fantastic job at improving local food production and the well-being of the surrounding communities,” shared Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, director of community relations at Hawaiian. “We’re always excited to kōkua alongside the Foodland ‘ohana in support of their Give Day, and are proud to continue supporting the good work of MA’O.”
To learn how you can support MA‘O Farms, visit www.maoorganicfarms.org.