Where I've Been, Where I Am, Where I'm Going...

As I approach my farmiversary, I like to take a moment to reflect on where I've been, where I am and where I think I am going.

Where I've been these past 12 months has been exhausting, thrilling, challenging and at times, depressing but we always find a way to bring ourselves back to center to face the next challenge. Last November we were just getting our prepared food business stabilized from our August launch. Sales were good, reviews were better and we were getting ready to take it to the next level. We put in our application to serve food at a second market and in February we got the approval to start. We were crushing it right out of the gate. I was finally able to say, I'm in the black. I made all my big capital investments in equipment leading up to that point and now we only had to tweak the details to fine tune our operation. I felt like I had turned a corner and with the business finally showing an actual profit I was ready to hire employees instead of relying solely on interns. March was my best month ever in business for myself, that's including my real estate business. But March we started to see the tail spin the rest of the world was in. Fear and uncertainty was a dark cloud over the otherwise rosy reality. Then, April's lockdown happened. The markets closed and I was left with no income at all. We quickly pivoted to a take out and delivery operation from the farm, serving our community our prepared food. It was clunky and challenging to try to actually cook food in our commercial kitchen that was designed to be a manufacturing and prep facility. But we did it and did it rather well. We sustained and built a nice following in our town for 3 months. We were treading water but we were hitting physical constraints to achieve more volume without a major remodel of our kitchen and we just didn't have the funds for that. Then we saw a big decrease in sales as people started to go back to work. Again, we were faced with reimagining our business to fit the times we were in. We found a market to serve food at, where sales have been slow but steady. We joined the Friday night food truck event which has found us a whole new audience and we're growing every week. Esther got me a catering gig on Monday's which has been a whole new learning curve. Never before have I had to prepare food for 26 people. Not only that but it's an hour drive to the site, so we have to prepare food that will still be hot and delicious after being in our catering boxes for all that time. We just finished our first month and we were contracted for 2 more months. So, I guess we're doing all right.

I spent a lot of time these past few months studying about farming, learning about farming styles and how to make my farm better. I have been working on making the farm more biodiverse, adding additional cash crops where we have than just dragon fruit. Pineapples have been doing great and I plan to keep adding more. I have about 200 plants now and I will just keep adding more and more. I found out corn doesn't grow at our elevation, or at least the corn I chose doesn't grow here. Beans do grow well, though. I am developing an actual farming style and my vision for the farm is coming together. Now, if I can just find the right people to help me move the farm towards that vision. All our resources are going into the food business, as that's generating the income to keep us afloat. The farm is taking a bit of a back seat as we again pivot to meet our new reality.

We have high hopes for the farm stand. We think this will help us consolidate our market days which will lead to me being able to spend more days on the farm developing its future. I have been networking with farmers all over the island to bring their produce to my town and now we're hoping that our goods will get a new audience through their distribution channels as we develop reciprocal relationships. I'm dedicated to helping create food security not only for Hawaii island but the entire state. Together Esther and I are excited to share our enthusiasm with anyone that will listen about our nutrition mission.

One of the messages from Mark Manson's book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" is when faced with adversity ask yourself "what if this is a gift?" I know, it's tough to find the gift when we are faced with death, destruction and completely new reality but I think in order to not slide into the pit of despair we have to find even the most tiny nugget of positivity to just keep going. The gifts of this past year have been me knowing we are agile enough to change course and find new revenue streams. I have become more passionate about food, not only cooking it but sourcing it locally and growing it for myself. I am committed to building community right here, where I live. Feeding my neighbors, getting to know them and figuring out how to bring them together in a positive way.

It took me 5 years to really master my real estate business. As I enter my 5th year here I feel all the pieces coming together. I know we'll face more challenges in the coming weeks, months and year. I am so fortunate to have Esther's love and support. I feel gratitude for still being in business in spite of all the obstacles and challenges. Mahalo for reading, may you have an amazing day.

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