By Kathy Isobe
Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs
Building relationships withthe community recently presented an opportunity for the Navy to help support the local farmers. Through Navy Encroachment Partnering and the Department of Defense's Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program, the Navy contributed $1.1M towards the $3.2M acquisition price of a 236-acre Palikea parcel in Lualualei with MA’O Organic Farms.
Through this partnership, MA'O was able to secure ownership of the property, and in return, the Navy secured a vetted neighbor and gained a Restrictive Use Easement on MAO’s property, which regulates the land use, activities, height restrictions, setbacks, use of drones, and use of the Navy road in perpetuity.
MA'O is a federally recognized nonprofit organization with a mission to address the challenges of the local youth and community through the tool of sustainable agriculture. MA’O is an acronym for Mala’Ai ‘Opio, which translates to “youth food garden.”
According to their website, “It is an affirmation of our belief that when we restore the relationship between youth and the ‘aina (land), we restore our ancestral connection to the land and foster an interdependence that returns abundance and prosperity to the community.” (see www.maoorganicfarms.org)
The farm began with an initial five-acre plot leased in 2001. Over the years they acquired over 280 acres, including the 236-acre Navy partnership parcel, and grow over 80 tons of produce in 40 different varieties of fruits and vegetables.
Recently Capt Erik Spitzer, commander, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, visited the farmlands and met with key MA’O Organic personnel.
“This is a great opportunity to start building our community relationship with our new neighbor and local farming organization,” said Spitzer.
“We look forward to other activities and potential projects with MA'O Farms and establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with them,” he said.