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Mahi‘ai Match-Up Agricultural Business Plan Contest’s winners and $40,000 of cash prizes announced

Māla Kaluʻulu, Inc. owners (L to R) Mailani Souza, Dana Shapiro and Noa Lincoln (not shown) won the $25,000 first place prize in the Mahi‘ai Match-Up Agricultural Business Plan Contest sponsored by KS and the Pauahi Foundation.

The contest’s second place winners, Jay Bost and Rob Barreca of Counter Culture Foods won $15,000 in seed money and an ag lease for a 5-acre land parcel on the North Shore.

Kamehameha Schools and the Pauahi Foundation revealed this year’s two winners of the 2015 Mahi‘ai Match-Up Agricultural Business Plan Contest at a fundraising gala on February 28, 2015 at Dole Cannery’s Pōmaika‘i Ballrooms.

The gala is a fundraiser to raise monies for agricultural scholarships and grants to help cultivate a new generation of farmers for Hawai‘i.

Last year’s gala raised $70,000 – $50,000 was presented in grants, and the remaining $20,000 was awarded to four recipients toward multi-year/multi-level scholarships.

“The contest focuses on increasing food production for the local market by finding innovative farmers and providing them with the tools they need to succeed,” said Pauahi Foundation Executive Director Keawe Liu. “It has developed into a creative and exciting new venue to encourage farmers to develop their ideas and submit a plan to help with Hawai‘i’s food security issues.”

Winning teams receive an agricultural lease from Kamehameha Schools with up to five years of waived rent and start-up seed money from the Pauahi Foundation.

Four semi-finalists presented their business plans in front of judges and two were selected to win the $25,000 first place and $15,000 second place prizes.

Judges included Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong, Ulupono Initiative Managing Partner Murray Clay, American Savings Bank Executive Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Tab Bowers, MA‘O Farms co-founder Gary Maunakea-Forth, and Founding partner of Hui Kū Maoli Ola and Papahana Kuaola Matt Kapaliku Schirman.

Congratulations to:

  • First Place $25,000: Māla Kalu‘ulu – Māla Kalu‘ulu, Inc. is a Hawai‘i cooperative business comprised of three members with plans to engage in holistic agricultural production, research and education. Their business model will focus on two primary crops, ‘ulu (breadfruit) and ‘olena (turmeric). With a desire to plant a wider variety of crop sub-species for year-round production, Māla Kalu‘ulu will cultivate the 3.7-acre Ke‘ei parcel in South Kona on Hawai‘i island. Primary plans include active restoration of traditional kalu‘ulu, a Hawaiian agroforestry system with an ‘ulu canopy and various understory crops.
  • Second Place $15,000: Counter Culture Foods – Counter Culture Foods (CCF) is a seasonal seed-to-countertop fermented foods producer concept planned to be based on 5-acres in Pa‘ala‘a. Tapping into an increasing demand for fermented foods, CCF plans to offer raw, probiotic kimchi and tempeh as their flagship products. The team of two will grow the following crops for kimchi: ‘awapuhi, ‘olena, chayote, chili pepper, daikon, green papaya, bulb onion, koba green onion, purple cabbage, shallot and wonbok; and the following crops for tempeh: adzuki bean, cowpea, millet, pigeonpea, sorghum and soybean.

In an effort to increase Hawai‘i’s food production and help decrease dependency on imported foods, Kamehameha Schools and Pauahi Foundation presented the contest for the second year hoping to attract experienced farmers with innovative ideas to grow food on vacant agricultural lands owned by Kamehameha Schools.

“The opportunity attracted many talented local farmers. Mahalo to this year’s applicants for their passion and commitment to moving Hawai‘i one step closer to sustainability. We are thrilled to welcome the winning teams to our ‘ohana,” said Liu.

Mahi‘ai Match-Up was created as partnership by Kamehameha Schools and the Pauahi Foundation. Lead sponsors, Ulupono Initiative and Amercian Savings Bank, along with numerous other sponsors, generously joined in to help make the contest and gala possible. For more information about the Mahi‘ai Match-Up, visit

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Kamehameha Schools is a private, educational, charitable trust founded and endowed by the legacy of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Kamehameha Schools operates a statewide educational system enrolling over 6,900 students of Hawaiian ancestry at K-12 campuses on O`ahu, Maui and Hawai`i and 30 preschool sites statewide. Over 41,000 additional Hawaiian learners and caregivers are served each year through a range of other Kamehameha Schools’ outreach programs, community collaborations and financial aid opportunities in Hawai`i and across the continental United States. Income generated from its Hawai`i real estate, as well as diverse investments, fund the Schools’ educational mission almost entirely.

The mission of the Pauahi Foundation is to support the mission of Kamehameha Schools by seeking and developing new and diverse sources of income to support the ever-increasing educational needs and goals of people of Hawaiian ancestry. The Foundation accomplishes its mission by building community partnerships that improve lives within the Native Hawaiian community through education.