“My passion can be contagious.”
As you’ll see in this video, Ryan Earehart’s clear passion for quality, organic produce is spreading just as fast as the 60+ fruits, herbs and vegetables that thrive in the rich soil at Oko‘a Farms.
After serving as produce manager at Mana Food in Pā‘ia for 10 years, Earehart started the farm in lower Kula with business partner Salvador Gil Coca and both their families about two years ago.
“By myself, no way. I’d be buried a long time ago,” Ryan says. “But with a good team, we can move forward.”
Harnessing that forward momentum, the 12-acre, family-run operation practices “full-circle farming,” creating its own fertilizers and compost; irrigating fields with enriched water from the tilapia pond; and incorporating goats, chickens, ducks and more into the farm family.
“We do have that whole picture, where we have that huge diversity of crops and diversity of animals with the fish and chickens and goats and rabbits,” he says.
The diversity of organic crops is astounding. It includes purple snow peas, green snap peas, jicama, wild alpine strawberries, taro, red-veined sorrel, onions, lettuce, collard greens, lemongrass, Peruvian tubers (which Ryan calls an “up and coming superfood”), kale, dandelion greens, cilantro, black raspberries, spineless panini, sugar cane, okra, eggplant, bananas, marigolds and much more.
“A lot of them don’t really make economic sense, they don’t pencil out,” Ryan explains, “but in the end of the story, they draw people to our farm stand and that more than makes up for it.”
Oko‘a’s stunning displays are in-demand weekly at farmers’ markets upcountry. The farm is also known for popular specialty produce like durian, mangosteen and rambutan. Ryan and his crew brought these unique items and much more to our 4th Friday mini-farmers’ market in Kīhei during our Grand Opening Celebration on August 26, and is planning to be back again outside Fork & Salad on September 23 with his amazing produce!
Almost everything in our Super Blend salad mix comes from Oko‘a. As we craft your salads, we’re proud to use these organic ingredients, fresh from the farm’s bounty of chef-inspired produce:
-Red radish, watermelon radish
-Dino kale, curly kale
-Mustard greens (frilled and broadleaf)
“I love working with the chefs because I share my enthusiasm and story with them,” says Ryan, “and I know that can transfer because it helps their passion and their purpose.”
Ryan says they chose the Hawaiian name Oko‘a because it means whole, complete, entire; the closest word they could find to the concept of sustainability.
“In Hawaiian, there was no word was sustainable because that was a given,” he explains. “Everything they did, of course, imprinted in the mind, like, ‘This is what we have; we need to care for everything for the future.'”
Ryan calls farming “my sport, my surfing,” rather than his job, and says he’s grateful to watch his family grow as the farm evolves. He and the Oko‘a team work incredibly hard, day and night, to take care of our ‘aina and our people.
“I could get a lot more sleep and hire someone to run our farmers’ market, and they could do it and everything would be fine. It’s good produce — it speaks for itself, right?,” he smiles. “But when customers ask a question and you can be like, ‘Ba-boom!,’ you give them that succinct answer and they know and have that relationship with you.”
Check out Oko‘a during the Upcountry Farmers’ Market on Saturdays at Kulamalu Town Center, the Wednesday Farmers’ Market at Waipuna Chapel in Kula, and Fork & Salad’s mini-farmers’ market at Kīhei’s next 4th Friday. Or you can always stop by for a salad or sandwich to experience the excellence of Oko‘a’s ingredients in action!