Grow Your Lunch and the Ali’i Kula Lavender(AKL) farm joined forces in January 2012 when Grow Your Lunch founder, Ben Eichorn, visited long-time friend and Whitman College classmate, Koa Chang, in Kula, Maui, HI. Koa manages the Ali’i Kula Lavender farm, which founded by his father, Ali’i Chang in the late 1980’s. Click here to read about Koa’s father’s legacy and the founding of the farm.
Kula has a very unique climate. It is located at about 4,000 ft elevation on the slopes of the (currently dormant!) Haleakala volcano. The climate is very similar to coastal California, and it never freezes. The climate is perfect for Mediterranean herbs, Protea (a native flower of arid S. Africa), deciduous fruit trees, citrus, and vegetables common in coastal California gardens (such as lettuces, leafy greens, root vegetables, etc.).
Ben visited the lavender farm in 2008 and received a tour from Ali’i and Koa with his parents and little sister. Janie, Ben’s mom, has been hooked on the Ali’i Lavender Gourment Seasoning and Lavender Herb Tea ever since! All of their products are fantastic and can be purchased in person on the farm in Kula or online.
After a few years in Thailand doing professional Thai kick boxing, Koa is now back on the farm, taking over where Ali’i left off (tragically, he passed abruptly in the Spring of 2011). As part of AKL’s vision of Sustainable Aloha and healthy Hawaiian ecological and human communities, Koa and Ben began the groundwork for an edible garden. AKL is opening a cafe at the farm this year and produce from the garden (most likely herbs and salad ingredients) will be used in the meals served there.
One might ask how Grow Your Lunch can offer meaningful services to a client like AKL. The fact is that, like the folks at AKL, most of Grow Your Lunch’s clients are very self-guided and independent. Even from thousands of miles away, we can provide consultation at every step of the garden’s development. These days, with the convenience of our technology, a client like Koa can send us a photo of something he is working on and get a quick and detailed reply within a short period of time.
When building a garden, we always prioritize keeping organic matter in the soil. In this photo, woody lavender mulch and grass clippings are being used to mulch the paths and garden beds, respectively. The cover crop (a mix of barley, fava beans, peas, buckwheat and flax – purchased at the local health food store), was sown immediately after the construction of the beds. The intention with the cover crop and generous mulching is to build fertility, prevent erosion, and maximize moisture retention. The permaculture enthusiasts call this “stacking functions.” For more info see here.