Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kumu 'Aina Organic Fruit Farm

Three years ago, Bob and Terri Mulroy came to the realization that they weren’t getting any younger and were burnt out living the urban lifestyle of Boca Raton, South Florida. Terri quit her lucrative job in the advertising department of Office Depot, and Bob gave up his successful air-conditioning business. It’s a familiar story: On the advice of a friend who was already living there, they packed up and headed for Puna to pursue their dream of life in the slow lane. When they set eyes on Kumu 'Aina Farm in Kapoho, it was love at first sight.

Kumu 'Aina, roughly translated as “Wisdom of the Land,” was first certified as an organic fruit farm in 1987. The Mulroys are actively perpetuating and promoting the practice of non-GMO farming, and two years ago the 9-acre farm hosted a no-GMO demonstration with Greenpeace. Although Terri and Bob had always been gardeners, both were newbies to farming. However, that didn’t deter them from maintaining over 800 trees -- including 190 varieties of fruit, some of which they sell at the Maku'u Farmers Market.

The Mulroys grow mainly fruit from South and Central America and Asia, including rollinia (top photo), atemoya, cherimoya, jackfruit, sapote (white, green and black), avocado and…

…some very sexy non-GMO papaya!

The Mulroys also enjoy making cheese from their Nubian cross goats…

…and love those endearing lawn-mowers, St. Croix hair sheep...

Terri’s advice for wanna-be Hawai'i organic fruit farmers:

  • Plant things which will turn a profit quickly within 3 to 5 years, such as sapote, rollinea, egg fruit, pineapple, papayas, and greens.
  • Put more thought into the situation. Plant things within livestock pens BEFORE you get any animals. Otherwise you end up having to harvest things to feed them all the time. “Don’t take your neighbor’s offer of sheep for a telephone line like we did. Plan it first,” says Terri.
How tasty is the fruit at Kumu 'Aina? When the Mulroys brought their dog Dweezey from Florida to the farm, he actually started eating all the fruit he could get his paws on, and now he's practically a vegetarian by choice. His favorite? Jackfruit!

"Gee, dis skin is RUFF! But some ‘ono."

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