Going Back to Our Roots at Ka‘ala Farm
Ka‘ala Farm offers a serene and safe place for many of the community members to visit and reconnect with the ancestors of Wai‘anae. Reaching back to the early 1970’s, a group of youths stumbled upon rock terraces and discovered that it had been an old lo‘i kalo (taro patch). Throwing themselves into its restoration, they hoped for a new lifestyle based on traditional values of hard work, cooperation, and respect. For the past 40+ years, Ka‘ala Farm has provided the community with a cultural learning center, and acted as an anchor for ancestral land management systems.
Uncle Butch DeTroy who has been working with Ka‘ala for many years believes it’s vital for the younger generations to connect with the ‘āina. “When a fourth-grader steps in the mud, he or she is stepping in the footprints of their ancestors, who sustain life inside him or her for generations.”
Waiʻanae High School students in the Hawaiian Studies Program work with the Kaʻala Farm’s staff and volunteers to map pre-contact archeological sites. They also revegetate coastal and valley areas with native Hawaiian plants. Reaching out to the adult community, Kaʻala Farm offers work therapy at the Learning Center for substance abuse.
Unfortunately due to the pandemic, Ka‘ala Farm has not been able to work with their usual student tours and local visitors. “We used to have 50 to 60 school kids three times a week come on a school bus. “They couldn’t do that anymore, so we had to cut groups down in smaller sizes,” DeTroy explains. “However, with the reopening of businesses and gradual lifting of restrictions, groups have started to trickle back to the Farm.”
The farmstead welcomes people from all over the islands to visit and participate in immersing activities. Ka‘ala Farm hopes for more people to come to the loʻi to find a connection within themselves and the ‘āina.
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