My hands are bathed in scents of lemon verbena, my arms covered in the frothy spittle of rosemary, and I am pulling colorful carrots from the soil like sweet offerings. It is harvest day at O’o Farm, a moment of magic on the slopes of Haleakalā, where mists are woven with the essence of Waipoli and the anticipation of eager harvesting hands busy about.
“It all comes down to this moment”, farm staff member Chris Cole says. The moment is but a blip in time, but has infinite repercussions. It is the culmination of a farming cycle, when fruits of labor and love are reaped before new seeds are sown.
This wholesome bounty of locally and organically grown crops pulled up from the Earth represent nutritious and delicious culinary specialties for Pacific’O restaurant in Lahaina. They are also the ingredients of farm fresh meals for our guests to enjoy in a rustic, charming atmosphere. Like a scene out of Provence in France, wooden tables of striking grain await beneath a canopy of grape vines overlooking the vast expanse of land and sea below. There is something distinctly special about Oʻo Farm crops. Embedded within each carrot, watermelon radish, leaf of fresh lettuce, or sprig of rosemary is a distinct sense of place. The flavors of these foods are woven with the unique climatic and ecological qualities of the slopes of Haleakalā.
Imagine you can taste the mist and volcanic rock in each vegetable, each herb, for “a food culture is not something that gets sold [in advertisements] to people. It arises out of a place, a soil, a climate, a history, a temperament, a collective sense of belonging” – Barbara Kingslover
Our society is accustomed to imported foods, available anytime from all over the Earth. Something wonderful happens when we eat locally and in season. We nurture nutrition and the natural rhythm of Earth’s journey around the sun, aligning with a harmony that creates a mirrored harmony in the body.
Farm manager Richard Clark calls our way of life at Oʻo Farm “living in the season, in and for the day’s treasures”.
There are certainly treasures to be found. On this day our senses are filled, with moist earth on our fingers, a colorful bounty of food before our eyes, whiffs of aromatic smoke in our noses as the wood burning pizza oven warms, and delicious odors waft through the air of today’s gourmet lunch is heavenly orchestrated for our farm tour guests.
As a culinary farm, O’o farm has a rich variety of uniquely flavored and visually delightful products. Not only are we harvesting traditional food crops but also, beautiful and edible flowers!
Each crop is carefully weighed, bagged, and blessed in its journey onward!
I glance at the stack of boxes filled with endless effort and image where it’s all destined… to PacificʻO restaurant in Lahaina, to nourish people directly from farm to fork. Eating locally and seasonally benefits both our personal and planetary health. Not only do we decrease food miles and significantly decrease fossil fuel use, but laden in this local food is happiness and reverence, which translates to health and wellbeing in our bodies!
By Karen Holman