By Chandler Goule, NFU vice president of government relations
When Bill Greenleaf met me at the airport we both said hello and immediately we were both on the phone with income calls. As we proceeded away from the airport to the beautiful mountains, Bill explained to mehis past life as a PGA golf pro. I hoped I didn’t insult him by saying I could throw a golf ball farther than hitting one.
Bill said I was the type of person he liked to talk to and he launched into his analogy of how hitting a golf ball was a metaphor for life. I wasn’t sure where this conversation was going but has he explained his holistic approach to golf I could see the link to hitting a golf ball. There was enough in that conversation for an entirely separate blog post.
Bill took the same holistic approach to farming and family. Before I knew it we pulled into Greenleaf farms. Now I have been on hundreds of farms. This was by far the smallest place I had ever heard called a farm.
I was led on a firsthand tour across the two acres and was amazed at all the different production systems that I saw. Everything served multiple purposes, had a specific place, and was laid out in a maze. I quickly realized I needed a larger vocabulary to remember all of the fruits and vegetables that I saw. More than 300 species of flora, fauna and livestock lived on this two-acre farm.
The care and dedication given to each plant, raised bed, and aquaculture base was obvious. Bill’s approach to life spilled into his farming and family. I was standing in the family’s kitchen and it was hard to tell where the house began and the farm ended. The island was overrun with fruit and vegetables, all produced on that two-acre farm. It was hard to decide what to eat first.
Bill and his family were unique, but not really. As his family and I made our way down the road we met Janet Simpson, who had 4.5 acres and grew 70-80 things. She was recently crowned “Best Cup in Maui” for her coffee and was second state-wide, beating out the famous Kona coffee in several places.
Janet shared the passion, hard work, and lifestyle I had seen at the Greenleaf farm. I learned about coffee, dragon fruit and irrigation techniques.
Our final destination was to the medicine wheel. This unique combination of herbal healing, spiritual value and food production were all captured on Christina’s farm.
She had taken the ancient belief about the healing power of a circle and created a medicinal wheel in the earth for people to learn from each other. She ginned her own wild Hawaiian cotton and actively grew fish in aquaponic ponds as did Bill.
The warm and caring nature of each family and person I met was very evident in the organic life I saw growing meticulously placed in an exact spot for light, proximity to the compost or for the view. All in all I learned more about myself and greatly appreciated our Hawaii Farmers Union for sharing a piece of their light with me.