The Zenuru Ho‘olako farm ranch story starts like this.
Two guys meet on the homestead mountain, they talk story and laugh. One is a retired disc jockey and the other a farmer phenom. About a year passes and they reunite. The location, one of Hawai‘i’s most remote Hawaiian Homesteads with wild cattle, axis deer and mountain boars amongst a mixture of other game bird life. It is literately the wild wild west as Maui knows it.
The history of the land is intense. Where there was once over 30,000 aboriginal farmers, there are less than 30 families living full time in the Kahikinui Maui region. The reason, no water.
Off-the-grid living has forced Kahikinui homesteaders to learn how to live-green before most. And it isn’t easy. The roads once promised by neighboring business, Auwahi Wind Farm, failed to finish the road construction stating that the costs were higher than first expected. This relayed the responsibility back on to the Department of Hawaiian Homelands. That was in 2011. Nothing has developed since. Well actually, Uncle George planted some palm trees to beautify the drive. But the cows are too destructive when they scratch up against the trees. We will have to think of something stronger to plant.
It is said that perhaps a large water table cracked during an earthquake in the late 1860’s. This must be translated from old Hawaiian newspapers to be certain. No confirmation to date, and it will take several lifetimes for archaeologists to truly examine the richly untouched remnants of kanaka (human) lives in old Kahikinui. There are several publications on Kahikinui, all individual exploration driven, published yes, the whole story, never.
So, if you want to live in Kahikinui you must catch and carry water and because of the unfinished roads this has been close to impossible for new coming homesteaders who want to return to the ‘aina (land).
I’ll skip the years of poaching, illegal hunting, paid hunts, broken trust and commercialization, there is plenty of info on that to find if anyone interested. Today, the trek to bring water to the mountain to raise animals and plant food is time consuming, difficult at times and fuel is expensive.
The Kahikinui watershed is compromised by geographic consequence, poor management and drought. The soil is hydrophobic and is need of conservation before anything else has a chance. Start with the soil and all things will grown from there, even water, you can grow water.
One thing that unbeknownst to most Kahikinui Hawaiian Homesteaders at first is that they are all instant ranchers. Much of the upper forests have been fenced off in efforts to save the native forest, this pushes the animals directly into the homesteads. The wild cattle, axis deer, goats and boars that thirst for water come into the homesteads which demands ranch range preparations.
For many years the Kahikinui Aquifer was left in the hands of watershed partnerships that failed on critical grant deliverables. For the last two years the forest has been managed by homesteaders that border the massive empty river valleys. There has been dated and documented unannounced activity in the upper forests and concerned homesteaders are awaiting answers. One explanation was that the very watershed partnership that failed on its deliverables was trying to quickly finish fencing work that had been budgeted. Many residents question the fencing methodology. Once the fencing rusts, it is left as rubbish in the sacred forests and no one has seem to have a sense of scope to include clean up in the initial grant work.
Introduce the Kahikinui Zenuru Garden Farm the brain child of Emmitt Freitas and Ho‘olako, the ag consulting body of Samuel Hambek. The farming acres being worked by Zenuru Ho‘olako is on the farthest East side. The vast open cattle range is at the doorstep. There is no choice but to become the agroforestry leaders, its what depends on the ability to survive as a homesteader and a watershed. Rotational grazing is key to regenerating the soil and carbon sequestration. The watershed demands malama (care) and by using a diversity of animals, the Kahikinui soil world is starting to turn on its axis correctly.
There’s a couple stories that bring it home to the range. The need for water inevitably will bring young daring bulls to the homestead front if it is not fenced. It was reported that a bull is walking around the mountain with a bucket on its head having found one near a homestead porch in search of water. Another story be told about an Uncle soaking in his mountain-made outside bath tub and a cow just came right up starts drinking out of his bath tub. Apparently this was funny for a moment until the cow snarfled it’s hanna buttahs (snot) all inside the bath, happy feeling gone.
Amazingly, despite the struggles, there are growing reports of one pound tomatoes, tinctures of medicine plants, chili peppers and even kalo. As one braddah prescribes mastered farming techniques, the other braddah makes sure the planting playlist has got a good backbeat. For now the short report is the amazingly productive fusion of Zenuru and Ho‘olako. Zenuru Garden Farm the brain child of Emmitt Freitas and Ho‘olako, the ag consulting body of Samuel Hambek. They want to serve the watershed and it’s people, period. It’s hard work, to farm, to do large-scale animal husbandry, to advocate for watershed health an the farm invites support in the work for all. You won’t find a stronger wind of change then the two braddahs who met on the mountain who are making agriculture music.
Mahalo for your support, we appreciate you!
Please email ZenuruKahikinui@gmail.com to learn the many ways you can help support Zenuru Ho‘olako Farm Ranch. We appreciate your support.
A narrated slide show of this story can be viewed on YouTube at: