OLANA ORGANIC FARM
Helping People Experience the Source & Beauty of Food & Wellness
What does a typical day of work entail?
One of the best parts of each day is waking up and seeing the ocean and hearing the wide variety of birds in the morning. Most of us prefer to work early in the day or later in the afternoon to avoid the heat of the day. We prepare for and attend two weekly farmers markets so some of the weekly schedule is based on these market and harvest times. Harvests are done as a group as are some other projects. Otherwise we are usually flexible in setting you up with some tasks, teaching you the basics and letting you do the work when you prefer. That way you can find time to explore the island, work when it is cooler, etc. Weekly we meet as a group to talk about or learn about issues and topics relevant to the farm often followed by a group potluck dinner.
What special projects might be happening during my stay? There are projects going all the time. This coming season we expect that we will be working on expanding our medicinal herb garden, developing a humanure system, expanding our chicken area and more.
How well established is the farm?
We started Olana Farm in early 2001. Initially we planted many of the orchard trees which are now bearing heavily. We have been growing pineapples and ginger for the local market for the past 8+ years. We also grow and extensive array of herb and vegetable crops along with tropical landscape plants including natives and flowers.
What are your energy sources?
We use a solar system to heat our water; we aspire to add photovoltaic and/or wind power in the future. Currently we are on the grid for power and have propane for cooking and back-up water heating. The best cell phone coverage at our place and through most of Kaua'i is either Verizon or AT&T, others are less reliable.
What will the weather be like during the time I am there?
Spring / Summer Volunteers: April to September is a wonderful time on Kauai. It is a busy time for farming with many of our main crops being harvested and marketed including pineapples, papaya, onions and other tree and veggie crops. As the summer comes on we tend to cut back on some gardening. Tender items don’t do as well in the heat of the summer. It is usually a dryer time of the year so when needed we irrigate using drip and other systems. Summer is best for snorkeling, swimming and sea kayaking, although kayaking on the rivers and streams is good year-round.
Fall / Winter Volunteers: October to March is our favorite time on Kauai. It can be a relatively rainy time, although two of the last three years were fairly dry. Being in coastal Hawaii the temperature rarely drops below 60 degrees…and even when there is rain we usually get plenty of warm sun. The winter is the best time for surfing, body boarding, and other wave-play on the north shore closest to the farm. It is a busy time for gardening with the days cooler than in the heat of summer. So we usually crank up the garden in the early fall. Later in the fall and into early winter we are busy planting and harvesting many of our main vegetable crops – onions, carrots, beets, etc.
Do you offer extra work for pay?
Occasionally, we have additional paid work at our place or on other properties that we help maintain. We also connect folks interning with us to our neighbors who regularly have ample work -- garden, landscape, light construction, etc.
What are the transportation options on Kauai?
There are various options for getting around the island. There is a bus system that is getting better all the time. We have a couple “farm bikes” to use. Some folks choose to ship their bikes here. If you are staying long enough you may consider getting an “island car.” Otherwise those of us here who have cars often share rides into town or elsewhere for those in need. And Kauai is an easy place to hitchhike, if you are so inclined.
What should I bring?
For working on the farm, it’s good to have clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Our red soil and banana harvesting are notorious for staining. At least one pair of sturdy shoes, old tennis shoes or similar, is good, although you can work in sandals or Crocs much of the time. Bring plenty of shorts, t-shirts and tank tops, although a set of long pants and long sleeves is good as well, especially to keep the sun off you, a wide brimmed hat, towel, swimming gear, etc. We have bedding and pillows, but bring your own if you prefer. If you would like to web surf, bring a laptop. Camping gear is useful if you want to explore the island. A flashlight or headlamp is essential.
“I’m so appreciative of my experience at Olana. I arrived wanting to heal from a difficult year and immerse myself in the elements – water, earth, sun, fresh air, etc. I connected to the red Kauai soil immediately and enjoyed being in it barefoot as I worked. The ocean everyday was divine and the farm to table eating nourished me deliciously.”
~Leah, July 2013