The Waipa Foundation gave away fresh food to the community on the North Shore for Thanksgiving as part of their continuing efforts to help those in need. As if evidence of their success, keiki talked and ate poi as families received meal kits.
“It’s the best and freshest poi around,” Helena Ng said.
The poi was made fresh that morning and was from taro harvested from part of their farms at the Waipa ahupuaa managed by the foundation. Located on the mauka or mountain side of Waikoko, farmers can work there and get an ocean-to-mountain view have while they tend to their crops, with nene geese roaming in the background.
Earlier that day, Waipa volunteers and workers got together to make all that fresh poi. People partnered up to prep kalo or taro to make into poi, all while talking story and getting caught up on the latest happening around town.
Everyone started off by peeling skin off the kalo that was steamed, then they washed it. Then they cleaned it one more time, and scraped it with a butter knife before mixing it with water to then put through the grinder. After this last step, the cherished finished product is all pau — and you have the Waipa poi everyone loves.
Kari Joanne helped to put together the meal kits, including washing greens to pack the mixed bag of greens for the kits.
“I just harvested all these (greens) this morning to put in the kits,” she said as she washed kale and lettuce.
Lea Weldon, youth program director at Waipa, coordinated the Thanksgiving effort, which included distributing boxes on site as well as loading boxes onto trucks to be delivered.
Eighty boxes of food were given away, half to families and half to Kanuikapono Charter School in Anahola. The nonprofit has doubled the amount of boxes given during Thanksgiving since they started the program a couple years ago.
Each box contained a whole frozen turkey, two pounds of fresh poi, a box of stuffing, two pounds of sweet potato or uala, four oranges, a half pound bag of greens and a $10 gift card for Foodland.
“It feels good to be able to help people in need, to be able to give people a good bountiful Thanksgiving,” said Director Stacy Sproat.
The Waipa Foundation is located at the north end of Hanalei and manages the 1,600 acre ahupuaa of Waipa. It provides youth programs, workshops, as well as group visits. It’s all part of their mission to educate and teach people how to connect with the aina or land, and learn local values and lifestyles through laulima, which means “many hands working together.”
Recent efforts by the foundation included raising money online to go toward Hanalei taro farmers. Sproat said the Waipa Foundation, along with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Hawaii Community Foundation, contributed $200,000.
While Waipa Foundation wants to continue to do all it can to help the community, it is looking to raise funds so they can cover operating costs.
“It’s a good time to give,” Sproat said, because the floods have taken a toll.
Damage has been caused to the ahupuaa after the flood when streams and the landscape were drastically altered by the overflow of water.
Hundreds of thousands of plants that they planted along streams were lost, though she added on a positive note, the completed Waipa Restoration project was beneficial and helped to reduce future damage. The project focused on clearing hau bush along the streams and replacing it with native and food plants.
Sproat said they have received strong support from donors.
“We are so grateful to people who have already helped us so much,” she said.
Sproat also said the foundation has lost a significant amount of income after putting their usual programs on hold following the flood and because of bridge construction plans.
At the moment, their main visitor programs such as the farm tours, group visits and others are on hold. Waipa farmers’ markets are not being held at Waipa, but instead have been hosted in Kilauea at Anaina Hou.
Source: The Garden Island