Nalo Farms needs our help.
After two months of heavy rain waterlogged the third-generation family farm, Friday night's torrential downpours brought disaster. By daybreak Saturday, 12 of the farm's 14 acres were under four feet of water, wiping out nearly the entire crop of microgreens, mesclun salad greens and herbs, along with irrigation infrastructure and many of the multitiered beehives that once produced hundreds of gallons of honey.
This was just weeks after Dean J. Okimoto, president and owner of Nalo Farms, had put up for sale 2.5 acres of his family's land and transferred the remaining 14 acres of leased state land to his farm workers in an effort to pay off debt. So Nalo Farms on Saturday set up a Gofundme page to help with the costs to repair and replant the farm.
Okimoto is no stranger to this kind of hardship. On the verge of failure in the mid-1980s when a fungus killed his entire crop of basil, he was introduced to a young chef Roy Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi told him to grow microgreens for his new restaurant in Hawaii Kai. It was the beginning days of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, when chefs were using their haute cuisine training to celebrate local flavors and ingredients. For Okimoto, it was the start of the signature Nalo Greens mixes now found on everything from plate lunches to tasting menus to supermarket shelves.
Okimoto was the first produce farmer in Hawaii to build a food-safe processing plant so he could sell to chains like Safeway, Foodland and Whole Foods. He used Nalo Farms infrastructure to build a distribution system and delivered his and other farmers' produce to restaurants around Honolulu. He took out loans to fund these and dozens of other projects to keep up with regulations and help improve the quality and productivity of farms statewide.
Now it's time for us to help save Nalo Farms. By late Tuesday, the Gofundme page had raised more than $60,000 toward its goal of $100,000 goal. There were dozens of messages from chefs, restaurants and fans of the farm. "Good luck, Dean," read some. "Post if you guys need volunteers to help with the cleanup." "Mahalo for the love your farm has grown."
To help Nalo Farms with a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/save-nalo-farms.