May 5th, 2021

Meet Mahi Pono: Diversifying Agriculture and Supporting Community

Mahi Pono is Pomona Farming’s joint venture that encapsulates all of our farming and ranching operations on the lush island of Maui. But the daily practices of Mahi Pono are doing so much more than just producing clean produce and improving food security. We are transforming 41,000 acres of Maui’s vacant former sugarcane land into a thriving center of sustainable and diversified agriculture. 

In 2018, Mahi Pono acquired the vacant lands while also hiring many of those who were formerly sugarcane company employees. Then Mahi Pono had conversations with farmers, restaurants, chefs and community members to understand what crops people needed and which were in highest demand. Then working with University of Hawaii’s ag-extension office, we identified which of these crops were not only best suited for the land but also most likely to improve soil health.

You Say Potato, We Say Lots of Potatoes

At Mahi Pono, it’s important to us that we do this right. This means investing in collaboration and outreach to ensure that every decision we make is data-driven and backed up. Through our initial research, we recognized that there was a huge need for locally harvested potatoes. At that time, Hawaii imported the vast majority of this nourishing food, yet it was clear that Maui’s climate and soil were ideal for growing them.

With the goal of providing a steady, four-season supply of potatoes to Hawai’ians, we currently have 100 acres dedicated to red, white and gold potatoes producing approximately 50,000 pounds each week.

Giving Back and Doing MORE

Potatoes are not only good for the land and local economy but also go a long way in supporting food security. We regularly donate to food banks across the state, support the local Farm-to-School lunch program and just this past October, we hosted our first annual Fall Harvest (featuring drive-thru trick or treating, potatoes pumpkins and more) with all proceeds benefitting Imua Family Services.

Going Beyond the Potato

Our potatoes have been a great first step in meeting a need and supporting our communities, but we have a bigger goal: agricultural diversification. Since our first potato harvest, we continue to expand. Mahi Pono now has acreage dedicated to onions, citrus trees, papaya, nuts, teas, coffee and even grass-fed cattle-operations.

Why Diversify?

It’s all about Mālama (responsible stewardship of Maui’s natural resources) and Hānai (nourishing and sustaining Hawaiʻi ʻOhana with healthy produce). Traditionally, farming meant having a variety of grazing animals, pastures and crops. But as farmers began to specialize and look for efficiencies, many mechanized and commercialized operations didn’t recognize what they were losing.

At Mahi Pono, we know there’s a better way. We look for synergies between our livestock and our crops to naturally fertilize while also producing clean, hormone-free beef products. Additionally, by focusing on agricultural diversification, we see daily successes in improving food security and nutrition in Hawai’i while supporting local employment.

Mahi Article

Check out Hawai’i Farm & Food’s recent article about how our operations and commitment to diversifying agriculture on Maui are positively impacting the people of Hawai’i.