Māla Kalu‘ulu, a cooperative business located in Ke‘ei, Hawai‘i, and previous Mahi‘ai Match-Up winner that cultivates ‘ulu (breadfruit) and ‘ōlena (turmeric) and farms via principles developed by Hawaiians applied to contemporary agriculture, was awarded the 2017 Mahi‘ai Scale-Up grand prize of $20,000 by Kamehameha Schools and the Pauahi Foundation (PF) at Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival’s “Raw & Wild in the Tank” event at Our Kaka‘ako on Nov. 1.
Kaunāmano Farm, a Hilo-based producer of Berkshire hogs and previous Mahi‘ai Match-Up winner that uses a holistic approach predicated on pasture management and rotational open-air grazing, earned the Mahi‘ai Scale-Up People’s Choice Award of $10,000 via a live vote by event attendees.
With Hawaiian culture as a foundation of KS’ educational mission, Mahi‘ai Scale-Up is just one of the ways that KS strives to responsibly steward approximately 364,000 acres of land on which agriculture plays a significant role.
The Mahi‘ai Scale-Up agricultural business plan contest showcases KS’ agricultural initiatives, including food security and sustainability, and highlights the stellar farmers and entrepreneurs currently utilizing the ‘āina. KS and PF took the successful Mahiʻai Match-Up agricultural business plan contest to the next level via Mahi‘ai Scale-Up in an ongoing effort to support the state’s sustainable agriculture movement, and ongoing education and training for this new generation of farmers. The competition made possible thanks to partner sponsors: ‘Āina Sponsor Cades Schutte LLP; Wai Sponsors Ulupono Initiative, King’s Hawaiian and Carlsmith Ball; and Mahi‘ai Sponsors R.M. Towill Corporation and Alston, Hunt, Floyd & Ing.
“We have our own farm, but also represent 27 additional breadfruit farmers, so it helps build a movement; it’s a collective dream that’s coming true,” said Noa Lincoln, who operates Māla Kalu‘ulu with wife Dana Shapiro. “Kamehameha Schools is a key stakeholder in addressing a lot of the agricultural challenges in the state, and it’s great to see a program like Mahi‘ai Scale-Up because it demonstrates how much good KS can do. People in the state need to step up to increase diversified agriculture production, and for us, KS granting access to land and capital has been instrumental to growing and building our operation.”
Mahi‘ai Scale-Up targets seasoned individuals and entities within the agricultural industry and challenges them to expand their operation by implementing a new program or initiative that enhances the business. The Scale-Up concept builds upon the foundation of Mahi‘ai Match-Up, which over the past several years, has awarded five-year agreements to seven startups that utilize KS lands and seed money to execute the strategies and initiatives presented in their business plans. Through this initiative, KS plays a major role in decreasing Hawai‘i’s dependence on imported food and agriculture products.
“We need to look at sustainability not as a flavor, or as a marketing buzz word, but as a history of the Native Hawaiian people who were able to live in these islands while thriving and being successful in the most isolated land mass in the world,” said Brandon Lee, who operates Kaunāmano Farm with Ka‘ikena Scanlan. “The Mahi‘ai Scale-Up allows us to let everybody know what we’re doing on the farm, and it’s great for Hawai‘i. It takes work, and I’m willing to do the work.
“The Hawaiian people were successful before, we should have been doing things this way all along. The People’s Choice Award, it’s like being the most popular kid in school!”
The additional Mahiʻai Scale-Up semifinalists were: ‘Aina Pono Livestock & Land Maintenance LLC, a Hilo-based company that raises goats and sheep for food consumption and to keep as pets; Island Mana‘ia LLC, which specializes in the production of value-added cassava snack products and is based in Hawai‘i Kai; Ka Papa O He‘e Kalo, a cultivator of kalo (taro), ‘awa and cacao via modern and traditional farming practices based in Punalu‘u, O‘ahu; and Keiki and Plow, a farm in Hawai‘i Kai that grows a variety of organic vegetables and fruits in addition to offering organic eggs through immersive agriculture.
The Mahi‘ai program has been recognized as a creative and innovative way to encourage aspiring, and in the case of the Scale-Up, seasoned farmers to develop their ideas and plans to address Hawai‘i’s food security issues through sustainable practices. The process has also led to the creation of the Mahiʻai Scholarship, which helps deserving and motivated students entering a field related to agriculture pursue their goals.
“Financial support through the Mahi‘ai Scale-Up awards helps local agriculture producers and directly increases food production on KS ‘āina,” said Pauahi Foundation Director Tara Wilson. “Thanks to funds raised with our partner sponsors, we are able to provide scholarships for new and innovative agricultural leaders. Without the partnership of other like-minded organizations and individuals, our impact would be limited.”
October 30, 2017
KS stewards some of the most fertile and valuable agricultural land in Hawai‘i and is engaged in an ongoing effort to lease those lands to talented farmers in support of the state’s sustainable agriculture movement, and ongoing education and training for this new generation of farmers.
August 04, 2016
The Mahi‘ai Match-Up Agricultural Business Plan Contest and Mahiʻai Mentorship are helping KS find talented, innovative farmers who want to grow food and help decrease Hawai‘i’s dependency on imports.
June 30, 2016
Two finalists have been selected in the 2016 Mahiʻai Match-Up agricultural business plan contest dedicated to supporting Hawaiʻi’s sustainable food movement. Tickets and sponsorships for the July 30 Mahiʻai Match-Up Fundraiser Gala are available at www.pauahi.org.
May 04, 2016
The Mahiʻai Match-Up agricultural business plan contest supports Hawaiʻi's sustainable food movement. Find out what the contest's past winners are doing now!
January 26, 2016
KS and the Pauahi Foundation invite farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural entrepreneurs to enter the contest, which will award $35,000 in seed money! The entry deadline is Feb. 29.
February 28, 2015
Two budding young businesses will share $40,000 in seed money as the winners of the Mahi‘ai Match-Up Agricultural Business Plan Contest sponsored by KS and the Pauahi Foundation.
July 01, 2014
KS and Ke Ali‘i Pauahi Foundation are sowing seeds of sustainability among farmers by sponsoring Mahi‘ai Match-Up, an agricultural business plan contest aimed at decreasing the state’s dependence on imported food. Business plan summaries are being accepted through August 15, 2014.
February 24, 2014
The KS contest is aimed at increasing the state's food production and decreasing its dependency on imported foods. Winners also received five years of waived rent on KS land.