MA`O Organic Farms expands with help from Central pacific Bank and Kamehameha Schools

MA'O to acquire 236 acres of land in Waianae

Sponsored by Central Pacific Bank

MA`O Organic Farms has been serving the youth of Waianae, Oʻahu, since 2001, through a series of educational programs, including an on-farm to college two-year internship that provides a stipend and full tuition support for students. Through a new partnership with Central Pacific Bank (CPB) and Kamehameha Schools, MA`O will be able to expand its social enterprise program and farm operation.

MA`O’s approach to food production is grounded in the empowerment of local youth, as new leadership is imperative to the future of both the sustainable food movement and the broader community. The collaboration is a strategic approach to improve Hawaii’s educational ecosystem by looking at innovative ways to empower community champions who are doing game changing work in local communities.

This partnership will allow MA’O to acquire 236 acres of land through a guaranteed loan agreement with CPB, expanding the farm’s current 45-acre operation to 281 acres. This will make MA’O the eighth largest landowner and the fourth largest private landowner in Waianae. MA’O’s ten year plan includes four times more youth supported (from 120 to 500 every year), 10 times more food grown (from 80 to 1,400 tons every year), 75 new jobs created and organizational sustainability (30 to 90% self-sufficiency) through earned revenue.

MA’O is the acronym for, “mala ‘ai ‘opio,” which translates to, “the youth food garden.” MAʻO connects two precious assets: the ʻāina, that which feeds, and the ʻopio, or youth, to create a movement that will build a comprehensive and living local food system. Its goal is to educate and empower youth, fight hunger and injustice, improve health and nutrition, and grow a local, organic and fair agriculture industry.

The farm has graduated over 100 interns with Associate of Arts degrees and 25 with their Bachelor of Arts degrees. A number of graduates of the program currently support in the management of the 45-acre organic farm and youth training program, which supplies over two tons of fresh organic produce a week to farmers markets, grocery and natural foods stores and some restaurants on Oahu.

With this partnership, CPB believes MA’O will become the community steward of this important agriculture resource, which will be the first since the 1980s. Alongside Kamehameha Schools, CPB feels a responsibility to stand with community partners like MA’O who work to strengthen their own communities and ultimately the entire lāhui.

Similar to CPB’s legacy of its grassroots founding 65 years ago by WWII veterans to provide equitable help and hope for all of Hawaii’s people, the bank was inspired to not just be part of this collaboration, but be fully committed to how greatly this will help the community.

For more information: maoorganicfarms.org, facebook.com/maoorganicfarms, Twitter: @maoorganicfarms