“They do have different personalities, but we know them really well.”
Crystal Schmitt isn’t talking about her family, or friends, or farm workers. She’s referring to the diverse fields of greens she bonds with at Aloha ‘Āina Organics in Ha’ikū.
“For the romaines, we weed them and then we do multiple cuts,” she explains, “but certain varieties, one cut and they’re done.”
The USDA-certified organic farm has expanded from two to 10 acres, with plans for five more acres in Pukalani. The salad mix includes up to 14 different varieties, including three types of mustard greens, mizuna, green and red romaine, arugula, tatsoi and kale.
Aloha ‘Āina has been providing organic greens to our first restaurant, Three’s Bar & Grill, since we opened in Kīhei back in 2010. Now, the farm is helping to fill our salad bins at Fork & Salad, and we’re proud to offer such fresh, healthy produce.
“The seeds are organic, and then all the inputs, the fertilizer, is all organic,” says Crystal.
We also use dragonfruit from her organic farm in Lāhainā, which grows around 16 varieties in vibrant colors during the season, which typically stretches between June and November.
For the mixed greens, the grow cycle varies from season to season: it takes about 30 days in summer, and 45 to 60 days in winter.
Crystal adds farming in the tropics has its own set of challenges, like persistent weeds and hungry pests.
“We do what’s called flame weeding,” she explains. “When we do the seeding, we use the propane and we go through every single inch of the soil. This serves two purposes: one is to kill all the larvae at the really early stages, and then control the weed seeds.”
In addition, farm workers weed by hand. Come harvest time, the greens are hand-harvested as well. Crystal says they don’t take short cuts, and their careful, organic practices help enrich the soil, which she calls “Black Gold.”
“The longer you farm, the better, the healthier the soil. If you do chemical farming, the soil is getting depleted over the years; it’s getting worse and worse,” says Crystal, who’s proud of their earth-friendly commitment. “It’s a really sustainable way of farming. We really hope people are more committed to this better way.”
With organic methods supporting not just our ‘aina, but our water, reefs and more, we at Fork & Salad couldn’t be happier to align with farmers like Crystal. We’re stoked she agrees!
“They understand the ‘āina, that we take care of the land,” Crystals says, adding that she’s happy to be on board with our farm-to-table mission. “I think it’s a new trend, I think they really are cutting edge to help people live healthy and we’re just very excited to be partners with them.”
Come experience Aloha ‘Āina’s epic produce and all our other fresh ingredients at Fork & Salad from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily! #EatLocalEatHealthy