Leveling the Growing Field

Written by Marta Lane
Photography by E. Hooker

As the sultry sun begins to shine over Kauapea Farm, turtledoves coo and waves boom against nearby cliffs. Inside a cozy yurt, farmer Jillian Seals puts socks on Noble, her 2-year-old son. Sage, aged 14, Faith, 12, and Azure, 8, are already out the door.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 2.18.13 PMOutside, workers harvest from two orchards, a food forest and five 4,000-square-foot plots. Herbs, edible flowers and vegetables spill from gardens that are shaped in concentric circles.A patchwork of red and green lettuce heads brightens one row.

Lychee trees drip with blossoms and a Berkshire breeding pig naps in the shade. Nearby, 25 hens and 40 chicks live in rotating coops nestled in a fallow plot that once grew ginger and turmeric. Jillian is experi- menting with growing spinach, a crop that’s difficult to grow on Kaua‘i.

Growing up on a farm in Litchfield County, Connecticut, Jillian helped her family grow fresh herbs and make value-added products. In 1999, she moved to Kaua‘i and learned about sub-tropical farming, bio-in- tensive techniques, Kaua‘i’s year-round growing seasons and compan- ion-planting tropical crops. In 2006, she established Kauapea Farm and Kaua‘i Farm Connection (KFC) with her husband Gary Seals.

KFC distributes Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, and this week’s boxes contain leeks, bunching onions, lettuce, kale, savoy cabbage, dandelion greens, white mana taro and green beans.

Besides feeding CSA members, Kauapea Farm shares their abundance by trading work hours in the garden for vegetables, helping with school gardens, and accepting food stamps, or what is now called EBT (Elec- tronic Benefits Transfer) under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“Kauai Farm Connection is about connecting people with fresh organic food while giving farmers a distribution outlet,” says Jillian. “I want to level the playing field and grow food that’s accessible to everyone.”

For more information, visit www.KauaiFarmConnection.com.

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