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Building Soil and Community Through Small Scale Farms

Last Friday the DA BOX team made a trip up the Hamakua Coast to visit with Noelie Rodriguez at the Family Farm. Noelie is an artist, activist and a recently retired sociology professor. She has been living with her husband, Chris Yuen, on their land in Ninole for the past 40 years. Family Farm was one of the first certified organic farms on the island and has been selling bananas to Island Naturals since 1993, Noelie recently expanded into market gardening and has been selling purslane, chayote and moringa in small batches to include in our CSA program.

Noelie grew up in New York City and started looking for opportunities to get involved in agriculture from the time she was 23 years old. For Noelie, growing food is a lifestyle and an extension of her role as an educator and a community activist. She likes to do work that keeps her close to the earth and allows her to connect with her neighbors and friends by sharing food. She sees the role of the small-scale farmer as being integral to building sustainable, resilient communities. Family Farm uses sustainable practices like composting, intercropping and OMRI certified inputs.

Noelie and Chris are also helping to encourage the next generation of farmers by building partnerships with friends and sharing their land and equipment. Stephen Filipiak has gradually been able to take over the bulk of their banana business while living on their land in Ninole. The couple is currently considering inviting another friend to rejuvenate a portion of their land that is lying fallow by growing crops for the market. As farmers age across the state and country, partnerships like this can help new farmers get a leg up while helping established farmers steward their land and continue to produce food.

We had a great time on our visit and look forward to more delicious veggies from the Family Farm!

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