Breaking Ground

It has certainly been a busy couple years, since moving from Oregon. In about 18 months, we sold our home, moved 1000 miles away to San Diego (two different rentals) and then moved 2600 miles away to the most isolated island chain on the planet. About 3 months ago we closed escrow on our new home, on the island of Maui, Hawaii. I won’t go into all the details as to why we uprooted our 4 children to go on this crazy adventure – but the sum of it is family, health, and sustainability. Maui with it’s abundance of natural resources, both in the sea (kai) and land (aina) alike, along with it’s 12 month growing season made the perfect backdrop for our new family project.

The goal of this Blog is to document our transition from what I would classify as a typical, middle-class, American family who quite frankly got very comfortable in their western, store- bought lifestyle.  Our desire was to flip that on it’s head and learn, with our children, what it takes to be self-sufficient. How do we experience the fruit of our labor directly vs indirectly (though the mighty dollar) and how do we experience true health, starting with what we put in our mouth. After-all… we are not just what we eat, BUT also what we eat, eats.  Our first step in our long journey was getting to Maui and getting settled in our new home. Our second step is to start building. Do we start working on the inside, the outside – where to begin?! The obvious choice became food. We want to start right by giving our food the best possible environment to thrive (Maui being a pretty great place for that) which leads to:

Day 1 – December 3, 2017:Today (after a trip to the home improvement store) we “broke ground” (kinda fun to say).. we busted out the pick ax, shovels, rakes, leather gloves, wheel barrel, organic compost, and got to work. All the boys got some sweat on their brow (Gabriel – 15, Caleb – 12, Isaac – 9) as well as Aunty Cynthia!  While Beth and Ellie (4) labored with love all day in the kitchen making sure the crew stayed hydrated and fed with delectable goodies like Chicken, Fig, & Chèvre Salad, fresh brewed green tea with lemon and honey, Italian wedding soup (Auntie made the meatballs) and even a lemon meringue pie! We actually ripped most of the grass up the evening before, so today we spent DIGGING. After a day of digging an “L shaped” 2-ft deep trench on a brisk, almost winter day in Maui (I quickly started fantasizing about back-hoes and other machinery that could make this process much easier).  HOWEVER – our goal is to learn to do it the “hard-way” on a smaller plot of land, our Kihei “Urban Farm”, so when the opportunity presents itself to go big-time we’ll know exactly what we need.

The design for this first planter box, is to dig 2 ft deep, put a 2 inch layer of rock/gravel, a 6 inch layer of amended soil, a slow-drip watering hose (for deep-root watering), then continue re-filling with amended soil until ground level. Then we’ll use 2×6 redwood heartwood (two of them stacked on their 6”side) to create the outer wall of the beds. We’re using the concrete slab which serves as the foundation of our covered lanai for the inner wall (we left about a 6” clearance from the concrete foundation to where we dug the 2ft trench). The redwood will be held in place by 2ft rebar on the outside and the soil on the inside. We’ll of course post pictures of the progress.  Our drive is simple – time together as a family, learning how to be self-sufficient. Along the way we’ll learn some biology, geometry, physics, chemistry, history, math, foreign languages, art, global cuisine and cultures, psychology, and a healthy dose of faith and patience (I for one need to work on that!).  We hope to share a bit of what we learn with others, including food prepared with organic fruit, vegetables, herbs, a lot of love and all served at the perfect moment so as to re-learn what that food was actually meant to taste like.