Maui, Hawaii

Tag: life on Maui

Tour the Ocean Vodka Farm and Distillery!

Maui’s own vodka distillery, Ocean Vodka, purchased and started an 80 acre organic farm on Maui last year. This family owned business has been making vodka in an industrial part of Kahului for the past 7 years or so, but have outgrown their facilities. This April they had the grand opening of their brand-new facility on Oma’opio Road (right next to the Surfing Goat Dairy).

CJ was our tour guide yesterday. As he showed us around the property (the nursery, sugar cane fields and then lastly the building itself), you couldn’t help but hear the pride he has in this business. Their new building has enough photo-voltaic panels to produce double what their energy requirements are (the extra going back into the electric grid). They also have a 1300 ft well on property used for irrigation.

new factory, self-sufficient with photovoltaic energy panels and a 1300 ft deep well

This family also strives to preserve many of the over 50 varieties of Hawaiian non-GMO sugar cane plants.

a few of the sugar cane stalks grown on their organic farm

I learned that most of the commercially grown sugar cane on Maui is GMO, which produces the sugary syrup in its stalks between 18-24 months of age (at which point the whole plant is harvested by controlled burn).

Ocean Vodka‘s sugar cane is non-GMO, meaning the plant will continue to produce sugary syrup in its stalks for 20-40 years. The mature stalks are harvested by hand while the plant continues to grow new shoots (this must be very labor intensive).

Hawaiian non-GMO sugar cane field with coconut tree mulch
resident rooster showing us the baby sugar cane plants in the nursery area
sacred Hawaiian sugar cane which used to be reserved for ali’i (chiefs’) consumption

What makes this vodka unique? It is certified 100% USDA organic, the only vodka in the world made from organic sugar cane. Ocean Vodka is also the only spirit in the world made with deep ocean mineral water (which is pumped from 3000 ft off the coast of Kona, Big Island).

I really enjoyed this tour – and went home to pour myself some Ocean Vodka. It is really good.

They offer tours 7 days a week, 5 times a day – just send them a quick email so they know to expect you.

Keep an eye out for it – Ocean Vodka is currently sold in 25 states and yes, also in 3 Canadian provinces. It is also the exclusive vodka served by Hawaiian Airlines since 2007.

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Getting ready to make some jam…

It’s the last week of school in Hawaii, and following our family’s tradition, I am gathering ingredients to make our kids’ teachers some home made jam. This year we’re making papaya-lilikoi jam. I find papaya jam a little bland, adding lilikoi juice or lime juice give it some zest.

lilikoi

It can be difficult to find lilikoi at the farmer’s market, but luckily for me I have a friend who has lilikoi vines in her back yard (in fact, I should try growing some too!).

Lilikoi are a passion fruit, native to South America and brought to Hawaii in the early 20th century.

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Our school’s Ho’olaule’a (May Day celebration assembly)

Today was our local elementary school’s annual May Day assembly – called the Ho’olaule’a (which is Hawaiian for festival or celebration). Since our school is in South Maui where it rarely to never rains, we don’t have school gyms or assembly halls. Instead we use the school’s grassy sports field.

Our school’s Ho’olaule’a involves a royal court. The royal court isn’t made up of royalty, but rather of fifth grade students who write essays as part of a competition to be a part of this year’s royal court. They are dressed in beautiful traditional outfits, with a ‘prince’ and ‘princess’ representing each Hawaiian Island (dressed in each of the islands’ official colors – Maui’s official color is pink). We also have a representative ‘king’ and ‘queen’.

this year’s Royal Court at our school’s Ho’olaule’a (May Day) celebration

The ‘ladies of the court’ practiced a special hula for the Ho’olaule’a – this year they danced it to ‘White Sandy Beach‘, sung by Hawaii’s famous singer Iz.

Here is a short clip of the girls’ hula… how does this compare to your school’s assemblies?

After the girls’ hula, the various grade levels got up and gave their own dance presentation (they were decidedly non-traditional, but the kids had fun!). The assembly lasted for about 75 minutes.

The kids (hopefully) all wore sunscreen (it had to be applied at home as our teachers aren’t allowed to sunscreen the students), most had hats, sunglasses and water bottles. The teachers walked around with spray bottles and sprayed water at the kids to keep them cool. It was a hot morning in the sun!

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Rain day in Kihei – you’re kidding!

It rained a bit yesterday late afternoon in South Kihei – our family got so excited! No, we don’t miss the rain from when we used to live in BC’s Fraser Valley, but sometimes it’s nice get a bit of rain. Kihei averages about 12 inches of rain a year, but for the past three years or so there’s been a real drought in Kihei (and a lot of Maui, for that matter). I think last year we had about 5 inches of rain in Kihei. It’s been really dry.

Anyway, yesterday after dinner we went for a walk around the neighborhood in the refreshing ‘just rained’ air. Our youngest brought along an umbrella, it’s a novelty for him to be able to use an umbrella. Guess what – we got caught in rain and he actually got to use it (he also discovered that the pavement can be slippery when wet). It started pouring for a few minutes and we sure got wet. It was lovely!

Imagine my surprise that it’s raining this morning again! Our kids are hoping that school is cancelled today! Really? Yes, sometimes when it rains, school is cancelled because of danger from flash flooding. Even when they don’t cancel school, you can count on half the kids not showing up to school. But like I said, with 12 inches of rain a year, it almost never happens!

So what to do on a rain day in Kihei? Here are a few ideas for you…

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Coming up – a partial solar eclipse on May 9th

There will be a partial solar eclipse on Thursday, May 9th, visible on Maui between 2:24pm and 5:01pm.

photo courtesy of the Maui Astronomy Club website

How best to see a solar eclipse? Do not stare directly at the sun with your naked eye as it can melt your eyeball. The Maui Astronomy Club has said that someone will be at Kamaole III beach park at the southern-most lawn area. They hope to have some eclipse glasses for sale for $2. Just in case they don’t, here’s an article with some other methods

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A-Z Challenge about Maui?

I recently came across a Maui blogger who is doing an A-Z Challenge about Maui… 26 days of letters of the alphabet (today will be G). For an interesting read from a local perspective, check out Maui Jungalow’s blog!

So far she’s tackled A for Aloha, B for Beach, C for Coconuts, D for Dolphins, E for Elvis (!) and F for Flowers. I can’t wait to see what G will be…

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Shaka Pops

Have you had a shaka pop? I had my first one today at the Maui Agricultural Festival. Shaka pops are handmade gourmet ice pops, made on Maui with locally sourced ingredients.

Shaka pops at the Maui Ag Festival

I had one of their ‘specials of the day’ – grapefruit rosemary. It was unbelievably good. In fact, my mouth is still tingling from the flavors…. I want another one…

Where can you find them? They are at most town parties, festivals and even have some retail locations… check out their website for more details. Four dollars an ice pop – well worth it!

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Maui’s very own Ocean Vodka

Did you know that Ocean Vodka is building a new distillery upcountry (Kula)? Starting April they will be offering three tours a day, Monday through Saturday! Reservations required – (808) 877-0009.

Ocean Vodka is made from 100% certified organic sugar cane and desalinated deep ocean mineral water. Interesting…

nice view over the building (look at all the solar panels)

Our neighbors took a drive up there yesterday afternoon, though at this time there isn’t much to see yet besides the gorgeous bi-coastal views. It’s close to the Surfing Goat Dairy.

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Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaii

As part of the Heritage Film Festival, the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (MACC) is showing the film ‘Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaii’ on Sunday, March 10th at 3pm. You can buy tickets at the box office or at the MACC website.

Here is what the MACC writes about the film:

‘Pidgin: The Voice of Hawai‘i’ profiles the language of Hawai‘i’s working people in its rise from plantation jargon to a source of island identity, pride and controversy. Born on sugar plantations and spoken by more than half of Hawai‘i’s population, Pidgin captures the heart and soul of multi-ethnic Hawai‘i. Once again under attack by educators and bloggers, will Pidgin survive? A Q&A session with producer and director, Marlene Booth, will follow the screening.

It’s always interesting to learn more about the places we love! Check it out!

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Pineapple update

Have you been waiting for updated pineapple plant pictures? Am I the only one completely fascinated with this pineapple plant growth? It can’t be… it just can’t be!

Joking aside, we planted the top of a Maui Gold pineapple (from Costco) in our flower bed in January 2012. It was an experiment, to see if we could really do it. Here’s what it looked like in February 2012 with some new growth in the center.

A year later (end of January) it developed a red bud. And yes, I’ve been checking on it every day since… you can’t take the farm out of the farm girl, it would appear.

Here’s what it looks like today! I love how the leaves around the bud have turned a beautiful pink!

 
The plant is now 2 feet tall and four feet in diameter.
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