Ever dreamed of starting a farm in a place like Hawaii? Squash and Awe is an ever changing plot of heirloom squash proudly growing under the Hawaiian sun. Dozens of varieties have been tried since the no-till beds were built and planted on April 1, May 15, June 1, August 1, and Sept 1, 2013… It just keeps going, and growing forward. Several tons of squash were produced on a 1/4 acre plot in the first 6 months of the farm, all while building soil.
I began this study of squash after I learned that Hawaii had a statewide crop failure in 2007. I was determined to go through history for a solution, and I refused to give up until I found one. That should come as no surprise , as I am the last in a long line of Wisconsin farmers (generation 6.) My ancestors found plenty of solutions in their time. I believed that we have just gotten away from the “farmer as problem solver” and shifted our thinking to scientist as problem solver. I wanted to see what could one woman do for Hawaii’s food system. Could a rookie find workable solutions, and redevelop lost commercial markets in a state that imports 97% of it’s squash, and 90% of all other food.
I decided to grow culinary heirloom squash that originated in many different countries around the world. I have worked hard to educate, market, and distributed to the elite chefs of Hawaii island, markets, farm stands, and to the loyal “squashinistas.”
Here is the tiny but mighty Squash and Awe mobile delivering hundreds of pounds of product to one of our fine Hawaii resorts. Since Winter squash needs no refrigeration…who says you need a refrigerated truck. A 79 MG Midget cruises the coast with up to 300 lbs of squash tucked stylishly inside. Not to mention, even at Hawaii’s inflated gas prices, $20 fills her for the week. Try that with a truck.
My heirloom (non hybrid and non-gmo) seed stock is primarily purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and from the Seed Savers Exchange. I also buy some other heirloom seeds from several other seed companies including Native Seeds, Botanical Interests, and Trade Winds Fruit. A couple years ago, I had a lovely surprise, the Gettle’s of Baker Creek visiting the farm. Soon after, they asked me to tell the story of my farming at the National Heirloom Expo, and then again at their Spring Planting Festivals.
In December 2013 I became a “Heirloom Seed Farmer” of some of the rarest squash in the world. Squash from Uganda, Armenia, Panama, Madagascar, India, Republic of Georgia, and more are grown for seed purity as an effort to keep endangered food crops alive, and lead us to a sustainable future with seed diversity. Below are three rare squash that were grown for seed in 2014.
Hawaii’s seasons are more discrete than those in other climates, so I may be planting and harvesting on the same day. Don’t let that confuse you. Although some things are specific to Hawaii, a 2600ft elevation isn’t the same as growing at tropical sea level. This past Winter night time field temperature registered 46 degrees F, which slows down everything! For those of you who are cleaning your tools and putting them away for the season, don’t despair. Growing in Hawaii includes every pest and disease imaginable, and often present in all four seasons. Squash and Awe never, ever sprays, and all organic methods are used.
I am happy to report that it is a zero-waste farm, the first of it’s kind here in Hawaii. From the ground up Squash and Awe continues to reclaim 95% of the materials used on the farm. That also includes the repair of both delivery cars that were at risk of being scrapped. I have learned to compost, build soil, raise worms, fix cars, make fish emulsion, and even battle some of the world’s most destructive tropical agriculture pests, all while using sustainable methods. Using the local library, a few purchased books, and some internet research, along with simply working hard, I was able to learn these things. So if you feel like farming is beyond you, think again. We can do whatever we set out to. The important thing is to try out your dreams.
Looking out for our neighbor farms and consumers is the top concern. That is one great way to define Aloha by being an excellent neighbor. You may see me giving talks, cooking classes, and even doing school visits in my posts, that is all part of a days work for me. So with that, please enjoy as the site grows along with the farm. I am so happy that you looked into what I am doing. May you be inspired!