Chapter Notes: Commonly referred to as the “West Maui Mountains,” Mauna Kahalawai is in fact a single mountain that spans across Maui’s north, central, and west side communities. Our chapter serves farmers and community members within this district, which also includes the sacred Nā Wai ʻEha (“The Four Waters) that flow on the windward side of Mauna Kahalawai.
Despite a mild climate and year-round growing season, Hawai‘i currently imports an estimated 90 percent of its food. We believe that a multitude of diversified farms that implement regenerative food production techniques will create a resilient, vital, and productive agricultural system to better feed Hawaiʻi’s people.
We are proud to support HFUU initiatives including the Farm Apprentice Mentoring (FAM) program, Regenerative Business Development classes, and volunteer work days on local farms.
In addition, we host monthly locavore potlucks that include chef presentations, educational speakers, and networking opportunities.
You donʻt have to be a farmer to join us! Backyard gardeners, curious community members, and anyone who is concerned about where our food comes from are welcome.
Director, Bobby Pahia is the farm manager at Hoaloha Farms. The farm supplies its parent restaurant company Na Hoaloha Ekolu (Star Noodle, Old Lahaina Lūʻau and Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina, as well as Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop in Olowalu, with several varieties of kalo and other crops. Raised in rural O‘ahu, the green-thumbed Hawaiian moved to Maui in the 1980s to work for the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Today Bobby grows two-dozen heirloom kalo varieties on his Waikapū farm, including mana ‘ulu, the popular Maui lehua, and the rare ele‘ele naioea.
Vice President/Treasurer, Irene Plunkett-Mina has owned and operated Kahanu ʻĀina Greens, LLC with her husband Vincent since 1994. This small urban family farm produces about 500 pounds of greens on 2,000 square-feet in Wailuku. She and Vincent started the first chapter of Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United in Hawaiʻi. Irene is eco-logical farmer who works to increase soil health in Hawaiʻi through education, outreach programs, seminars and conferences. She is cofounder of Maui Aloha ʻĀina Association and a board member from 2001 to 2013, and is a graduate of the Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaiʻi.
Secretary, Thomas Allen “Toma” Craig is an engineer/consultant trained in environmental health, permaculture, organic-farm standards, hydrology and efficiency audits for energy-water-farm resource management. He previously supervised the operation of the three Upcountry water treatment systems and continues to advocate for sustainable management of island energy-water-farm (food, fiber, fuel, forest, fauna, fishery and reef) systems modeled on the many-century-long success of the ahupua'a land and water resource management, and on core values so elegantly demonstrated by the islands' indigenous Kanaka Maoli culture. He joined the Mauna Kahalawai board to support efforts to find suitable land for small diversified and regenerative farms with long-term affordable leases.
Communications/Media Chair, Lehia Apana is a budding farmer and an award-winning editor, journalist, and travel-book author who has worked across a variety of media platforms. Born and raised on Maui, she has been writing about her home for more than a decade, beginning as a reporter, then Special Sections Editor at The Maui News. She is currently the Managing Editor at Maui Nō Ka ʻOi and Kāʻanapali magazines. She and her husband are currently working to revive their three-acre Waiehu property, which was formerly in kalo production, into a thriving edible landscape. As HFUU Mauna Kahalawai secretary, Lehia combines her communication experience and passion for local agriculture to promote food security in Hawaiʻi.
Director, Valerie Lasciak, was born in Brooklyn, NY, but spent most of her adult life in Northern California. She moved to Maui in 2014, volunteers at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center and works for the DOE as a Substitute Teacher. Valerie is a member of the Sierra Club, Maui Live Poetry Society, is a back up singer at Haiku open mic, Shaka Movement activist and Grandma to three beautiful Grand-kids in Hana.