Nestled on five acres just south of Kona, Hawaii, Gingerhill Farm is changing the way we look at daily living.
There is a farm, on the west side of the big island in Hawaii called Kealakekua, that serves as a strong example of intentional living. Founded in 2000 by world-reknown artist and avid gardner, Mayumi Oda, Gingerhill Farm offers an alternative, clean lifestyle and promotes vibrant wellness, spiritual growth and stewardship of the planet.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to stay here and witness its magic firsthand. I was greeted by the stunningly beautiful Iris. She walked me through lush vegetation to my cottage, a brilliantly, naturally lit room, complete with an outdoor shower and fully-equipped kitchen affixed to the back porch, WHICH also overlooked the Pacific Ocean. The warm Hawaiian breeze floated through the open windows. The next morning, we spoke with her husband Zach about their many plants. Afterward, he gave us a tour of the farm, during which we ate fresh from its bountiful trees.
Gingerhill Farm is not only committed to organic farming, but also offers meditation and yoga classes, farm-to-table meals and internships for students who wish to invest their time in learning about sustainable living.
My stay at Gingerhill was enlightening, to say the least. To rise with the sun and soak in its morning warmth, all the while overlooking the ocean, will forever be etched in my mind. But to also experience a place that is truly making a difference in the world is just as exciting. Scroll down a little further to read an inspiring interview with Iris about organic farming and intentional living.
A lot of people are interested in living a healthier lifestyle. When did you take your first step towards sustainable living?
Farmers’ markets, eating local and organic food were the norm where I grew up. I was raised with a deep respect for nature and have always felt the need to care for the earth. Moving to Gingerhill Farm in Hawaii has given us the opportunity to design a community around the principles that we wanted to manifest in our lives. Sustainable living is a process but moving here has definitely taken us to a next level. Now we want to open the farm to receive visitors from all over the globe.
How would you describe a typical day on the farm?
Our days are full. We wake up at 5am and begin our Ayurvedic daily routine, in preparation for meeting our meditation group at 6am. Afterward, free time is usually spent reading, writing, working out or eating breakfast. At 8am we are in the garden. 10am we harvest vegetables and have our green drink. 11am yoga and, at 1 pm, we all prepare and eat lunch together on the Lanai overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Afternoons allow for some rest time and an evening session in the garden.
“We are an ecological farm. Beyond merely organic, we are committed to considerations of increasing wildlife habitat, maximizing plant diversity and resource economization. We strive to be ever more self-sufficient and sustainable while growing the tastiest, most nutrient-dense food possible.”
What lifestyle tips would you give someone who doesn’t have access to a place like the farm?
Eat according to the seasons and never ingest GMOs. Buy locally in support of your area farmers. Try to grow some of your own food and encourage your neighbors to do the same. Strategize with them to grow different products so you can share and trade.
Our daily routine tip is — keep your system equalized, regular and ready for your day: drink half a lemon squeezed in warm water first thing in the morning. Make sure to brush your teeth and scrape your tongue first to rid yourself of toxins which build up in your mouth while you sleep.
Exercise regularly and rest plenty. Sleep 6 to 8 hrs. Manifest joy and good health in your life.
How long have you lived in Hawaii? Where are you originally from?
Zach was born in New York but grew up between Japan and the US, specifically in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am from a small island in Brazil not unlike Hawaii — we first met there. Five years ago, Zach’s mother asked him to move to Hawaii and run the farm for her. He had mentioned his mother and her work with goddesses and love of yoga. It seemed like a good thing and we decided to move together. We came to love growing and eating food and making medicine from the garden. We decided to stay and got married and have been building towards our vision of an eco-village, a mindful community where people from all over the world can come and stay and know what an agrarian future might feel like.
How is farming on Hawaii different from the main land?
In Hawaii, we are in the subtropics. It is hot, but can be either humid or bone dry. We have drought and flooding. We have incredible fertility but, without a winter season, pests and disease don’t die back and our beds don’t fallow. Combined with torrential rains this can leach soils of minerals.
We make lots of rich compost and concentrate on keeping our microbial count high. We cover beds with lots of mulch to keep the soil shaded, moist and cool. We grow subtropical tubers like purple sweet potatoes, breadfruit, cassava and taro since potatoes like cooler weather. We adapt and keep planting and let the bugs eat some and give thanks for the incredible abundance which surrounds us.
How many plants do you have growing on your farm at any particular time?
We’ve never counted. I’m sure there are over 200 varieties of plants and it could be much higher including ornamentals. We plant for diversity and food security…anything we want to eat or make for ourselves – poles, cord, dyes, medicine, etc. – and that will grow at this elevation and latitude. Beauty, novelty, usefulness, taste, nutrition. There are any number of reasons why we might plant something here and we pride ourselves in being able to say, “yes, we have that growing here,” when people ask.
What is the biggest reward, for you personally, from living this lifestyle?
We love that we are constantly creating and learning new skills and that there are no limitations. We are free to make our own routine, grow what we want to eat, and know that we are healthy and sane.
What are some ways that people can connect with you? How can they get involved?
People can subscribe to our YouTube channel. We intend to update it every 2 weeks with a new instructional video.
We have vacation rentals where people can stay on the farm. They are encouraged to participate in our ongoing programs which include Meditation, Farming, Yoga and Fitness Training and Ayurvedic Treatments.
The farm is available for retreats. Bring your group and come stay with us!
Subscribe to our mailing list to be informed about our individuals and group retreats, summer camp and special events.
We offer internships for people interested in staying longer with us.
Thank you, Iris and Zach, for a beautiful and peaceful stay and for sharing your words with us!
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