By Lillian Nahoi, Grade 11, Hakipuʻu Academy
Walking through the loʻi and seeing everything that we have accomplished is what makes all the time pulling weeds in the blazing sun, planting at only new moons during the summer, and spending long days harvesting and processing huli worth it.
I vividly remember having ʻāina days where we didn’t leave the loʻi till the sun went down or stayed overnight to plant.
Growing up with such experiences led me to think it was a task to go to the loʻi. My parents always told us that what we do in the loʻi affects the entire lāhui and I never understood what they meant until last year.
People were panicked and food was a security we no longer had – or so it seemed. As the lines got longer in stores, we spent more time in the loʻi. My father and I sat down and spoke about how all the work we’ve been doing for my entire life was for a reason, and it was to sustain us and our community. We pulled 10,000 huli and gave them away to everyone who wanted huli.
This past year, I recognized that although we were told to be apart because of covid, our lāhui has become more united and stronger. The aloha spirit had become more prominent in each and every ʻohana. It gave me more pride in what I was doing with my ʻohana and made me feel like I was making a change. Because we are active kalo farmers we have the responsibility to help our lāhui become more self-sufficient food-wise. Kalo is our elder brother or kuaʻana, and he serves us if we do the same for him. We must take our blessings as small or big as they are.
We are the most isolated state and if our primary food resources are insufficient, we have the assets to help ourselves and others. Kalo is a starch, and it may not seem glamorous or luxurious but it’s one of our primary sources of starch and a kanaka.
Just as our kūpuna always had an ʻumeke of poi on their dining table, we should all have one. Kalo is our “superfood” and was what our diet was based on and we, as kalo farmers, are trying to revive that. We are giving everyone the opportunity to have a different source of starch with Hui Aloha ʻĀina Momona.