WWOOF Hawaii - Blog from the Big Island

WWOOF Hawaii - Tropical Fruit

Here is the latest post from Sara J, our intrepid WWOOF'er in Hawaii. Enjoy!

    I am now on Big Island and the weather is great! I’m on a small permaculture farm, only about 3 acres. It is a half mile from Kealakekua Bay in south Kona. We are off the grid and the land and animals provide about 90% of the food I eat. I’ve been here a few weeks and am falling in love with the place. Everyday there is beauty and joy in working the land and being with the animals, but there are also challenges and a lot of heavy labor to be done.

    We start our day at about 5:30 AM cutting fresh grass for the goats, watering if it didn’t rain during the night, and weeding. Then it’s time to milk and collect the eggs. There are two mama goats, two babies and Billy. Also there are about 20 chickens, 2 dogs, 1 cat and lots of wonderful, colorful wild birds. All the milk is kept raw and is the best I’ve ever tasted. Every few days cheese and kefir are made. When the milking is done it’s time to go swim before the heat of the day sets in; the dogs come swim out with us too; salt water is natural flea control; most days there are dolphins in the bay. Then we return to work on the gardens and painting the guest cabin and whatever other projects need doing. Usually there are a few hours in the afternoon for siesta and personal activities.

    This farm is lucky compared to most on the island because there is actually some soil to start with. Since Hawaii is the youngest of the chain of islands there is mostly lava rock in a lot of places. We are situated on a hillside close to the ocean, so over time through, erosion processes, a thin layer of top soil has developed. With the assistance of the goats and kitchen compost it is slowly becoming good soil for growing papayas, mangoes, lettuce, basil, cherry tomatoes, sweet potato, bok choy, kale, parsley, tulsi, turmeric, pineapple, beans, arugula, lemongrass and so much more. The variety of plants that can be grown here is amazing and my taste buds love the new tastes and textures. I highly recommend the squash and breadfruit curry with local fresh turmeric and ginger. There are quit a number of people that eat only a raw diet; which is fantastic and easy to do here.

    I am one of five WWOOFers currently on the farm. The other four are a Russian family with a 19 year old boy Sasha and a four year old girl Vassa. Vassa comes to help with the milking and when she isn’t watching and learning she is practicing her chicken noises, and getting good; her English however is pretty slim. Over the last month we have really become like a family. We share our communal outdoor kitchen and other facilities, make meals together and go exploring together on days off. I had a great Russian immersion weekend in the jungles of Puna; never thought I’d be wishing I had paid more attention in Russian class while in Hawaii. There are always people coming and going on a farm like this and it can be hard to leave when the time comes; I’ve already stayed longer than originally planned.

    The way of life here is an interconnected web of relationships between the earth, the animals and the people. But as I learn more of the processes and the realities of living life in this permaculture I realize the hardest part is not ensuring enough to eat, or dealing with a cranky mean Billy goat; the difficulties lie in the human interactions. The small community is loving, open and accepting, but conflict and differing opinions do occur. It is the challenge of those individuals to work through it in a mature and enlightened way. Living close to the land and the people on the farm in a fairly isolated little bubble brings up emotional issues that most people choose not to deal with in their regular lives; here they must be faced; those who can’t or won’t leave. There is a changing aspect to having WWOOFers on a farm; it’s a constant cycle of unknowns and difference in work ethics, aptitudes and abilities. It can almost be not worth it to the owner, but then again the people that com into your life can be some of the most important friendships and experiences of your life.

    Not to make it sound like a perfect paradise there are some drawbacks to the tropics. There are scorpions; poisonous centipedes of all sizes, mosquitoes in swarms, mites, chiggers, any little scratch could turn into staph, and the commonly called slug-rat virus, which is actually a rat lungworm parasite you can get from not washing your produce. The last one is more common on the wet parts of the island, which is why less people tend to live there despite the beauty and abundance. There are some ways to avoid these things, but not fully if one chooses to live and work closely with the earth and not wear harsh chemicals. So it’s a constant thing to prevent, treat and watch for the next thing coming. I’m learning and itching as I go.

    That’s all from big island for now. I’ve a little time left here and then I’m heading to the mainland for some more adventures, but I have a feeling I’ll be back on the islands sooner than I think. Aloha!



WWOOF Hawaii