I Left My Stomach At O’o Farm #seemaui.
Story by Randy Kalp. Photos by Bethany Salvon.
On the way to O’o Farm we were treated to sugar cane fields and fantastic views:
Standing on the steps of an upcountry hippie shack at O’o Farm, as our guide, Farm Manager Richard Clark, explained the intricacies of compost tea, I peered into the wooden building, a place no bigger than some suburban sheds.
Set 3,500 feet up on the slopes of Haleakala, the one-room shack, now used as an office for the farm, contained only the necessities—a wood burning stove, a desk and chair with a desktop computer and a smattering of other things needed for the farm. I imagined laying out my sleeping bag every night on the worn wood floor, knowing that come morning the weathered windows would reveal Maui’s true soul.
“This would be my metaphorical fire tower— like Desolation Peak where Jack Kerouac spent the summer of ’56.,” I thought to myself. Within in just a few minutes, I had it all planned out. My days would consist of yoga and tending the garden. At night, I’d stoke the flames in the black iron stove and write haiku’s about nature, Beth and our irresistible mutt, Chachy.
By now Richard had moved onto the side of the shack and was explaining vermiculture and how the farm uses “black gold,” aka worm castings (poop), as a nutrient-rich plant food. At this point, we had only been in Maui for about 17 hours, so touring the farm with Richard, who took us on an educational and sampling journey, was an excellent introduction to the values and culture that permeate Maui and are showcased in the island’s fabulous food scene and sustainability movement.
Just then, the dinner bell rang and we made our way up for the second part of the tour: lunch prepared by the farm’s chef, J.J. Johnson. We had met J.J. earlier in the tour as he was prepping the lunch, at which point he stoked our palettes with a snack of delicious white pineapple. I couldn’t wait to taste what he created for lunch, especially after seeing firsthand the eclectic nature of the bio-dynamic farm, which supplies several of Maui’s finest eateries, including Pacific’O and I’O. In addition to rows of garden vegetables and lettuce, the 12-year-old farm also features Hawaiian coffee trees, a fruit tree orchid and green houses with tomatoes, herbs and flowers.
“The kind of stuff they produce here is all really boutique and awesome for chefs,” J.J. explained.
For our lunch, he prepared a meal that reaffirmed what I’ve known for a long time: I need a personal chef (eight acres in Kula, Maui, wouldn’t hurt either). Some of the highlights from the afternoon were the Monchong (that’s saying a lot because I’m not a huge fan of fish) with lemon grass infused oil and stir fried vegetables and purple shiso as well as the chicken-fried tofu seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, and dried herbs and spices—like basil, thyme, sage, coriander—and Hawaiian salt. However, the biggest delight came in the form of J.J.’s dark homemade chocolate truffles with agave nectar as well as the fresh Hawaiian mangoes–a rarity on the mainland–that were served for dessert.
Our visit to O’o Farm really set a great tone for our time in Maui, in part because it enabled us to gain a better understanding of the harmonious nature of upcountry farming, and the joys of a true farm to table experience, brought to life through the talents of Richard, J.J. and the rest of the O’o Farm staff.
If you want to take your own farm to table tour be sure to check out the O’o Farm website.
Farm Manager Richard Clark & Chef J.J. Johnson:
Randy samples the farm pineapple:
Fresh Maui coffee and fresh veggies from the garden that were used in our meals:
Coffee plants, garlic flower & fresh lettuce from the farm:
During the farm tour, we were able to sample all the fresh veggies. Here Matt Long of Landlopers samples one of the several types of lettuce on the farm:
Coffee, onions and million dollar views:
Richard teaching us about “Black Gold” and what remains of a crop of harvested lettuce:
A happy little rooster and Richard showing us how they make compost tea. Yep, they make tea out of the compost but don’t worry they only feed it to the plants!
Coffee comes to life on the farm:
A simple and beautiful table setting with fabulous island views:
Eating an out-of-this-world lunch with Alison Brick & Matt Long:
Lunch was unbelievably good. Everything was so fresh and full of flavor. Honestly, this was the best tofu dish I have ever tasted, and I got a couple purple garlic flowers on my plate too!
Randy in a state of awe after sampling some of J.J’s homemade chocolate truffles:
Look who decided to join us for dinner–a happy little chameleon:
He’s a thirsty little guy!
What’s your favorite place to take a food tour?
*While we were hosted by the Maui Tourism Board, our thoughts, opinions and desires are entirely our own.
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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first. Thanks!