Ulupono Initiative

Kapalua Farms

A project aimed at revitalizing former pineapple land on Maui for large-scale vegetable production.

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Background

Kapalua Farms provided an opportunity to operate and expand farming, especially organic farming, including increased production of fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits, and eggs from free-range chickens. It also offered the ability to repurpose the existing agricultural infrastructure and expertise that remained after the pineapple plantation shut down. Ulupono saw potential in continuing and expanding operations there to help make locally grown produce – especially organic – cost-competitive with conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.

While Ulupono remains committed to working toward increasing the production of healthy local food at affordable prices, we found after operating for more than a year that large-scale production is possible but requires careful crop selection and value-added processing to achieve acceptable profitability. In addition, our management found it was not structured to run an agricultural operation on Maui through an investment corporation based in Honolulu. The farm was managed through an Ulupono subsidiary called Ulupono Sustainable Agriculture Development LLC, also doing business selling branded organic fruits and vegetables under the name weFarm.

We determined our resources would be better used toward achieving our mission of increasing local food production through partnering with those who have the expertise to do large-scale farming and an understanding of Hawaii’s climate and farming culture. It was decided to separate commercial enterprises and social investments to maximize impact and catalyze change. 

As Ulupono has evolved, it has become clear that partnering to create consortiums is a better model, combining innovative technology or techniques – sometimes imported from other communities – with those who have long-term homegrown experience and history.

Why We Invested

The Ulupono Initiative invests in organizations and companies working toward more sustainable food, energy, and waste systems in Hawaii. Kapalua Farms offered opportunities in food and waste.

Impact

  • Create access to affordable land with long-term leases for small and medium farmers
  • Support pre-existing organic pineapple production to maintain supply of quality fruit and provide work for displaced farm workers
  • Improve farmers’ access to find and purchase locally produced compost for production
  • Utilize available land to study potential for locally grown ingredients to supplement poultry feed
  • Empower the local community with access to a community garden for growing organic fruits and vegetables for personal consumption

At a Glance

Investment Area
Food, Waste
Financial Model
For-Profit
Partners
Napili Community Garden