Who We Are
Ne huli ka lima iluna, pololoi ka opu. Ne huli ka lima ilalo, piha ka opu.
When your hands are turned up, you will be hungry. When your hands are turned to the soil, you will be full.
-Kupuna Katherine Maunakea
Moʻokuʻauhau, Our Roots
Established at the turn of the new millennium with a desire to address the important needs of our youth and community, a group of residents, traditional practitioners, teachers, and business experts created the Wai’anae Community Re-Development Corporation (WCRC), a federally recognized 501 c 3 nonprofit organization. Our impact strategy strives to meet five critical areas of need: under privileged youth, sustainable economic development, organic agriculture, health & wellbeing, and Hawaiian culture. Training youth to be culturally rooted and communally relevant social entrepreneurs and leaders is our core objective- our goal is to build a localized youth movement that puts the value of aloha ʻāina into action.
Mala ʻAi ʻOpio Community Food Systems Initiative or MAʻO was established in 2001 to recognize our land and youth as our most important assets and to catalyze educational and entrepreneurial opportunities around these assets to address the root causes of our own cultural, social, economic and environmental poverty. MAʻO is an acronym for mala (garden) ʻai (food) ʻopio (youth) or youth food garden and affirms our belief that when we reconnect and restore the relationship between the land and the people, we are able to return abundance and prosperity to youth, to their families and to the community.
Moʻolelo, Our Growth
He aliʻi ka ʻāina, he kauwa ke kanaka. The land is a chief, man is its servant.
- ʻŌlelo Noeʻau, Traditional Proverb
Our ʻāina boasts fertile soils, an abundance of ocean and marine resources, land suitable for agricultural production, and entrepreneurial opportunities ripe for social and economic transformation and innovation. Most importantly, our communities possess aloha ʻāina- a strong cultural tradition of working closely with the land. In ancient times, the makaʻainana, the people of the land, regulated their lives in accordance with nature and what nature provided in the ahupuaʻa, the lands from mountain to sea- they lived and thrived within their ecosystem. Our goal is to restore that relationship between our youth and the ʻāina- that which feeds thus restoring our ancestral connection to the land and fostering an interdependence between the land and people that will strengthen and fortify the resilience of our youth, families and community to meet the real 21st century challenges of an increasingly globalized food system, oil over-dependency and climate change.4
Our mission to restore a thriving and resilient community food and education system is based on a successful and progressive 14-year kahua (foundation) of growing organic fruits and vegetables while cultivating youth leadership in Waiʻanae. MAʻO endeavors to expand the progress and success of its social enterprise in Lualualei to other moku areas. Building and expanding upon our established of collaborators in the moku regions of Waiʻanae, Ewa and Waialua, MAʻO will continue to engage, strengthen and empower our ʻauwai or pathway from our moku communities toward post-secondary and workforce opportunities that reflect aloha ʻāina.
MAʻO Lualualei and our efforts toward a just, healthy, sustainable and resilient community food system is envisioned to be community gathering places where love, respect and a willingness to work is practiced daily. As a teaching and learning farm, MAʻO will adhere to its Hawaiian cultural values to aloha ʻāina, to care and nurture the land in perpetuity to grow, process, package, prepare and share food in ways that are pono, sustainable, and just. Our commitment to gather, engage and empower youth, families and community in place is of utmost importance to our success, so- we will ensure that our work reflects and manifest our values and guiding principles to mālama kuleana- our responsibility to care for our beloved ʻāina and our beloved people.