Written By Kealohi Wong, farm co-manager
Itʻs been an interesting past couple of months witnessing the growth and transformation of Kapalai. We have a new cohort of ASA interns who have become a part of our big Hoʻokuaʻāina family. With the mundane work of loʻi, itʻs so refreshing to have a new bunch of faces and conversations to engage in. They each bring their own unique flavor, and I have loved getting to know each and every one of them. Already in their first 10 week session this past summer, so much growth has occurred and itʻs humbling to be able to see it first hand.
Watching our second year ASA interns step into positions of leadership, and modeling for them is amazing. We can spread out across the different patches and tackle different tasks all in a day, and having them lead out helps to take the load off us farm managers. Thereʻs been a couple of memorable days I’ve had with our crew. One day, with about 8 of us, we harvested and cleared out all of the remaining 350# of kalo from Rachel patch (our second biggest patch at Kapalai), and ripped out all the weeds. We were cranking and moving–it felt great to look back and makaluhi (reflect with satisfaction) at our hard work.
With the building of the Hale, a good chunk of resources, hands and time was directed to that project–but it didn’t stop the weeds from growing! As we get back into the groove of loʻi kalo duties and stewarding land, it’s a breathtaking sight to look up at the Hale standing right in the piko of Kapalai. Sometimes I cannot believe there’s a Hale there. I remember when I first started in 2018, it was all just black plastic and there was talk of us putting a hale here and what not. Uncle Dean would share about the African Tulip trees that were removed, and all the clearing it took to get the area opened up. I remember probably 500 wheelbarrow loads each weighing at least 200 lbs of mud being dumped and leveled. We built a Hawaiian Crane which lifted the 800 lb posts and then Covid started, and they sat there….for about a year. I remember the logs being harvested from Kapaa Quarry, Paepae and Puʻuloa, loads and loads of it. I remember the grass being planted, and the debarking of logs, sanding, grinding, lifting, bending, tying and re-tying. The stress of whether or not weʻd have enough loulu to thatch with, and the loads that came in days before our end goal date. I remember the many hands who helped, and the new friendships and connections formed from working alongside each other towards the same goal. I could go on and on!! Long story short: building a hale ain’t easy!
I write this because if you’ve ever come to the loʻi, then you can probably attest to the welcoming and healing, the ‘aloha’, this place exudes. When you drive along the gravel road and look out, for a slight moment, the stresses of life go still and you sort of forget it all. At least for me, I am in awe–oh! and then I see all the weeds we gotta pull! But in all seriousness, the loʻi is a place where I continue to heal, strengthen and grow. I know it also serves as similar purposes for many others. Yet now, in 2021 and for many more to come, we have a physical representation of all the goodness, and homey-ness Kapalai provides, and it is what you see when you look at the Hale. I am so grateful to have been a part of this season at Hoʻokuaʻāina, to see the complete transformation and growth of Kapalai. It also marks a season for myself, of growth and renewal, and I find tremendous power in myself knowing that I contributed to a momentous chapter and project. The next one is unwritten in our eyes, but I cannot wait to see what’s in store here at Kapalai.