Living and working in the Hawaiian Islands as farmers for many decades we are grateful for the nourishing environment that has grown and sustained our business. Each day we witness the fruits of Mother Nature’s labor, while over the years we witness the sometimes gentle and sometimes dramatic evolution of the flowers that we grow.
We are thankful to Mother Nature as she provides the rich soil, the soaking rains and the tropical climate that produces the exotic flowers we grow. Daily we appreciate the stunning natural beauty that surrounds us, while occasionally we are stunned by Mother Nature’s fury. We are flower farmers, to be precise we farm Protea flowers on the slopes of Haleakala. This area is the Kona or southern side of the island of Maui, a beautiful upcountry location we have called home for many years. Farming is how we began our journey of shipping Happiness aka Hawaii flowers to the world for nearly five decades now.
As any farmer will tell you, farming is not easy. Farming takes time, farming is fickle, there are good years and bad years, and of course there is the weather. On Maui, a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific, you might think that “weather” would not be an issue of concern. Think again… Weather ranks high on the list of ongoing issues for Hawaii’s farmer as well as the rest of the world’s farmers.
Late last year we saw the true strength of Mother Nature on Sunday December 5, 2021 as an intense Kona storm hit all of the Hawaiian islands, blizzard conditions were forecast for the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. That’s right a blizzard on the neighboring island of Hawaii did grab our attention here on Maui, but we were not aware of the severity of this storm, no one was.
So the electricity goes out early in the evening, high winds (not forecast) topple upslope trees. The deluge of heavy rain that had been falling for not very long is loud and menacing … and the gulch beside our house and farm begins to fill with water the likes we have NEVER seen before. So we decide it’s time to leave our home, not an easy decision, but hey when you feel like your life is threatened…
By 10pm we attempt to leave the house with what we can carry, to no avail. A wall of water knocked us off our feet as we had just closed the front door. Luckily we were still at the front of the house as it blocked the water from taking us down slope. Everything not anchored down was washed away. No joke… everything from shoes and slippers by the front door to farm equipment … all just vanished. The rushing water took it all into a deep inaccessible overgrown gulch never to be found again. Our protea fields were thrashed, though now with time, over six months later, the plants are regaining their vigor. We were not alone in the damages suffered from this storm. And for weeks after that many of us in Kula had no electricity nor water. It was one of those “100 year storms” where the power of Mother Nature was on display. Many upcountry residents will never forget that storm and we certainly won’t forget the outpouring of help and assistance we received from our neighbors and friends.
After experiencing the ups and downs of farming life over the decades we must admit the last two years have been exponentially more challenging. No need to state the obvious… as farmers across the country encountered not just supply side disruptions, staffing shortages and shipping delays but the often overwhelming anxiety of “ life as we know it” in turmoil on every level.
And yet we remain grateful for our farming life and for Mother Nature in all her glory! We farmers do what we do because we appreciate the land and the crops that emerge from our hard work. But in addition to all that we love the people who take care of the plants, the people who harvest the crops, the people who design the floral displays and the people who enjoy the flowers!
So thanks to all those people and to Mother Nature & Father Time, we couldn’t live without them.