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Hana Farms: Regenerative MicroEnterprise (and a Lesson from Crustaceans)

Hana Farms, Hawaii, 2007

  • 1 roadside stand in a Costco tent (above)

Rebekah (Ucellini) Kuby, Permaculture Designer and Community Activist, remembers when this community enterprise began:

It was during the recession of 2007-8, which hit Hana town hard. After about the 18th person called me asking if I could help them find work, I knew something had to be done.

We held a community gathering in Hana (It wasn’t Hana Farms at the time — we got the name once the collective was formed — at the time the land was called Hana Paradise Banana Bread) and asked: Rather than just focusing on what we don’t have (jobs, enough money, affordable housing etc…) what do we have???

One uncle yelled out "abundant rain", another person yelled out "Ulu (breadfruit)", the next person yelled out "I got choke (plenty) Mango"… and soon the list began. Soon the list of "abundance" was two pages long. But what was happening with all of this abundance? Much of it was just going to waste because the community hadn’t seen an example of any sort of viable income that could be generated off of fruit. "It was too time consuming", "The road-side stands only brought in a few dollars a day", "People would steal the fruit or it would rot or get eaten by mongoose if it wasn’t monitored" etc. And "if everyone had their own road side stand, they would be competing against each other".

It was then that I remembered the story about crabs that an Aunty had told me. Story goes: "There was an old fisherman who went ‘crabbing’ and had a whole bucket full of crabs. He set the bucket down and went on with his day. Some of the crabs then began to crawl their way out of the bucket… but just as they almost made their way out, another crab would crawl on top of it and pull it back down. Each time, over and over again a crab would almost make its way out, only to get pulled down by another crab trying to get out. But, it turns out that if the crabs just realized that they all wanted the same goal of freedom, and they instead worked together to line up and boost each other out of the bucket, and at the end pull the last of the crabs out, they would all be free."

This story had come flashing back in my mind during this conversation… and helped me to understand just how much more effective we could be if we worked together as a collective instead of on our own individual strength. I needed Paul Taylor and Marty Vasey (who had the land), and they needed me as they needed a vision and a garden, and the community needed an outlet that would benefit the whole community instead of just a singular individual.

I called in a few of my chef friends through the Voluntourism network, to create ways we could turn the surplus food which was just rotting away into value-added products, which could be sold at the farm stand to generate income for local families and the farm. I began an internship at the farm where culinary students and young college students interested in community and sustainable living would come out and learn about how to make a viable income from surplus. They were offered free permaculture classes, housing, food and a fun ‘Farmily’ to live with while they worked towards creating products that benefited an entire community. And so… Hana Farms was born.

Hana Farms, 2011

  • 34 local families positively impacted (suppliers/producers able to generate additional income from surplus home garden production).
  • 24 raised garden beds over 4 acres
  • 8 locations throughout Maui offering Hana Farm’s value-added products (banana bread, honey, hot sauce, jams, coconut bread, etc, etc)
  • at least 6 micro enterprises spawned (Aunty Jane’s Lilikoi Jam, Hana Hotties, Trianna’s Flower Bouquets, Fawns baskets, The Pizza Oven, Coconut Glen’s Island Remedies, to name a few)
  • 1 online store operational.
  • over 100 fruit trees planted
  • over 50 students trained in permaculture practices and agricultural entrepreneurship
  • and hundreds of life-long friendships made (Rebekah: honestly, this is the most successful part of it all for me — that no matter how it changes, community was formed where there wasn’t community before. On Friday and Saturday nights there is somewhere to go in Hana to eat organic woodfire Pizza at night… there is somewhere to play music and drink coffee, somewhere to tell stories around a campfire, and this is what truly has made it successful for me).


  1. This project is located in Hana, Maui (Hawaiian Islands). Hana is located on the South side of the island, at the base of the massive Haleakala volcano.

    For more information on how to connect with this project, and other awesome projects like it, visit:

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