The Fruit of Their Labor

Umi and Kaʻiulani Martin with their son, Hāloa, daughter, Kiʻiwai, and their faithful ʻilio. – Photo: Courtesy[/caption]

“The pandemic has changed local farming. There is a greater priority on buying local and supporting local businesses. Food banks are buying from local farmers and we are doing things that we have talked about doing for years.”

– Umi Martin, of Umi’s Farm and Umi’s Store.

Martin runs their 18-acre farm and Kaʻiulani runs a massage therapy business connected to their mom and pop store which carries snacks, ice, cold drinks, hunting supplies, local crafts, and produce from their farm.

“My wife and I always joked that we were the greatest underachievers,” he laughed. “Now all of a sudden, we are working day and night.”

Umiʻs Farm Photo

In 2006, the Martins started a taro patch on their family’s 1-acre kuleana land parcel. For about two years they also grew fruits and vegetables, which they sold at the local famers’ markets.

“I attribute that time to getting us where we are today,” Martin reflected. “It allowed me to learn without pressure. If you know farming, you know it’s hard to be successful and learn at the same time.”

Martin researched innovative farming methods used in India, Japan and Australia, such as ultra high-density farming and the Open Tatura Trellis system.

His hard work and persistence paid off. In 2016, Martin was able to secure a lease on state lands to begin a tropical fruit orchard. While the original lease with the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) was for 5 acres, the lease was later expanded to encompass an 18-acre parcel.

“It’s hard to get land these days. I think it was kind of an experiment of how ADC can work with us small guys. We exceeded their expectations and planted 100% of the acreage in two years, so we asked for the remainder of the field,” recalled Martin.

Support from OHA Mālama Loans provided the funding needed to start their store; a second OHA Mālama Loan helped finance the irrigation system needed to start his farm.

Martin was also able to secure a grant with the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program to start The Mango Loa Project. Using the high-density trellis farming method, he successfully planted 550 mango trees on a single acre.

“With this method, the trees do well under heavy pruning. It makes the job easier because we are working with trees that are about 8-feet tall. All the picking is done from the ground; picking by hand reduces damage to the fruit. And the trellises help protect the trees from the elements. With a 30-foot tree, there is no way to monitor disease, so keeping the trees small helps.”

Martin has about 650 mango trees producing fruit. Next year, he estimates there will be 800. He grows four varieties of mango, including the Rapoza, known for its beautiful color; but Martin’s favorite is the White Pirie – delicious but difficult to grow.

“There is no such thing as easy farming,” laughs Martin. “But I tell all my friends that if you are not using high-density farming, then you are using last century’s methods.”

As vice president of the Hawaiʻi Tropical Fruit Growers Association, Martin is able to share what he has learned. He believes teaching the next generation to farm is key to the industry’s success. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Mango Loa Project.

“Incubator programs like GoFarm Hawaiʻi give our young people the chance to learn and see what they want to do. We spent the last generation convincing our young people to not go into farming; now we have the chance to rebuild agriculture.”

Martin believes agriculture should be the foundation of our economy instead of tourism. He hopes the state will do more to support and protect the local agricultural industry. For example, crop theft laws need to be tightened and enforced. It is difficult to prosecute crop theft, which has wiped out entire family farms.

He also sees the need to expand the supply chain, from processing to distribution. “There needs to be a packing house that all farmers can send their produce to.”

But for now, he is hoping Umi’s Store will be a place local customers can depend on to get the best mangoes around.

His vision for the future of Hawaiʻi ag? “Produce enough food to sustain the people of Hawaiʻi. Local farmers should be providing for our local schools. We need the food banks to turn to local farmers to help us feed our people. We have land open and fallow because of sugar farming. I hope to see more small farmers and more co-ops. It took a pandemic to help us think outside the box. Now, let’s work towards a better future.”

“HI Now” featuring OHA Mālama Loans recipient Salt + Sea

OHA Mālama Loans supports Native Hawaiian owned businesses and with many struggling during the pandemic, some are showing true resilience and even growth during this time. Salt + Sea Kauai is one of them, but grit is nothing new to the owner.

Native Hawaii business owner Maile Taylor was born and raised on Kauai and is a proud mother of three. Her background is in business sales, and she opened Salt + Sea in 2016 as a vendor in a co-op of boutiques in Lawai.

As her business continued to grow, she opened up her first storefront in Poipu in the Kukuiʻula Shopping Center. In the fall of 2019, she hit a rough patch and turned to OHA Mālama Loans for assistance and was able to rebound. Today, she now has a second location in Kapaa.

Although COVID has been difficult, Taylor still has a strong, local clientele base, and her online sales have grown more than 200 percent. It’s been a stressful and challenging time, but she is counting her blessings and everything she does is to support her family and community.

You can find out more about Salt + Sea at saltandseakauai.com, or on Facebook and Instagram: @saltandseakauai

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is committed to ensuring Native Hawaiians and their ‘ohana have access to resources to assist them in pursuing their financial goals. Through caring, supportive growth, our lending program can provide Native Hawaiians with an improved sense of economic well-being.

Through these programs, Native Hawaiians have expanded businesses, improved homes, continued their educations and more. The OHA Loan program consist of two programs: the Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund (NHRLF), established in 1985 and funded by and overseen by the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), and the Consumer Micro Loan Program. We have decided to put them under one umbrella, called the OHA Loans Program, so that consumers can find a loan based on their needs more easily.

For those interested in learning more about OHA Mālama Loans, contact us here. The loan process is all done online, and you can also call your neighborhood OHA Office with questions or if you need support with the process.

The Hanohanos keep up with the changing times

A move back home to Maui and the desire to provide for their ʻohana necessitated some repairs and renovations to the Hanohano’s home. Peter and Lynn Hanohano were able to get a low-interest OHA Mālama Home Improvement Loan to have enough room to accommodate their adult children and moʻopuna (grand children). With the renovation funds they were able to enclose their garage to increase their available living space. Currently they use the space for a Kula Aʻo, learning center, where grandchildren come together to study and have fun with their Tūtū Kane and Tūtū Wahine.

Do you have dreams of renovating your home? Talk to a malama loans officer to apply for a home improvement loan and check out the other loan products from OHA.

This story was featured on HINow on Sept. 11, 2020.

 

Pacific Isles Equipment Rental, Inc receives $1 Million Hua Kanu Loan

Pacific Isles Equipment Rental receives their loan check

Pacific Isles Equipment Rental, Inc. also known as  P.I.E.R. Inc., received a $1,000,000 Hua Kanu loan from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund. This was the first million dollar loan issued by the NHRLF program to a Native Hawaiian business owner. Owner John K. Griffin Sr. and his wife accepted the signed check at the loan signing and are seen in this photo with OHA staff.

P.I.E.R. Inc., started as an equipment rental company in 2001 and now offers services as a general contracting company that specializes in site/civil work, masonry, fencing, and hauling. Learn more about P.I.E.R. Inc. at https://pier-inc.com

Are you a Native Hawaiian business owner in need of funding support for your business? Learn more about our business loans

GOLDWINGS SUPPLY SERVICE Commercial

Hua Kanu loan recipient Goldwings Supply Service was featured in an OHA Loans commercial which aired during the 2019 Kamehameha Song Contest. It is set to air again during the 2019 Merrie Monarch Festival.

Established in 1976, Goldwings Supply Service Inc. is a second-generation, women-owned small business. The company primarily services the public sector, offering technical solutions in the aviation, roadways, marine and renewables fields. Historically, providing airfield operational support and aircraft parts and equipment, Goldwings expanded to pavement maintenance and solar powered niche solutions over the past 15 years. Goldwings President Lia Young Hunt said their $300,000 Hua Kanu loan will provide the necessary capital to expand their business to pursue more government projects and assist with their growth in the private, domestic and global marketplaces.

“The Hua Kanu loan program is an incredible financial product, granting crucial working capital to flourishing Native Hawaiian companies,” said Hunt. “We are thrilled to have been selected and look forward to growing our business and representing the Native Hawaiian community on a global scale”

Hua Kanu loans are one of the products offered through the Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund (NHRLF), which was originally funded through the federal Administration of Native Americans and administered by OHA. NHRLF’s other loan product is the Mālama Loan, which provides loans up to $100,000 to Native Hawaiian beneficiaries to improve a home; start or expand a business; or pay for educational expenses.

To learn more about OHA’s business loan products, click here or call (808) 594-1924.

OHA ANNOUNCES DISASTER RELIEF PACKAGE FOR KAUAʻI AND HAWAIʻI COMMUNITES

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs today announced a relief package of emergency loans and $500,000 in aid for Native Hawaiians impacted by the natural disasters on Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island.

“Our deepest aloha goes out to the people whose lives have been turned upside down by these natural disasters,” said OHA Chair Colette Machado. “What is being announced today is just the first phase of OHA’s assistance to our beneficiaries on Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island. We will continue to work with these communities to understand their ongoing needs, and we also will be developing initiatives that provide longer term assistance.”

At a meeting this morning, the OHA Board approved $500,000 in disaster relief aid that will include funds for one-time, financial assistance to qualified Native Hawaiian households on both islands and qualified kalo farmers on Kauaʻi, and funds to address other health-related issues caused by the eruptions on Hawaiʻi Island.

The elements of the disaster relief package were based on specific requests from the Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi communities. Kauaʻi and Niʻihau Trustee Dan Ahuna led a team of OHA staff on a site visit in May to assess damages sustained by the Native Hawaiian communities in Wainiha and Hāʻena. In addition, Hawaiʻi Trustee Robert K. Lindsey Jr. and island staff have been in constant dialogue with community leaders to gauge the needs of those affected by the lava.

“We mahalo the many in our community, from the individuals to the grassroots organizations, who came forward immediately to provide kōkua to those in need,” Ahuna said. “Our community has thrived through crisis before because we always come together. We understand that our role here at OHA is to follow the lead of the community and provide assistance as appropriate.”

Trustee Lindsey also recognized the community-driven relief efforts on Hawaiʻi Island.

“I have so much aloha for the many who just showed up, rolled up their sleeves and helped,” said Lindsey. “In these times of uncertainty, it’s comforting to know that your neighbors are always here for you.”

Disaster Relief Loan Program

In addition, OHA’s Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund (NHRLF) Board of Directors yesterday approved a new disaster relief loan. Native Hawaiians experiencing a loss as a result of the disasters are now eligible for loans of up to $20,000 at four percent interest with up to six months of deferred payments. Loans may be used for home improvement, vehicle repair or replacement, or business stabilization.

The NHRLF was established in 1985 and funded and overseen by the federal Administration of Native Americans. OHA administers NHRLF and the fund currently has $15 million available to lend.

In addition, OHA administers a separate consumer micro loan program that provides low-cost loans to Native Hawaiians experiencing temporary financial hardship due to unforeseen events. Loans of up to $7,500 with a five percent interest rate can be used for unexpected home or auto repair and emergency health situations.

For information about these loans,  visit loans.oha.org/disaster-relief, email NHRLF@ohaloanfund.org or call (808) 594-1888 .

Accessing OHA’s Relief Aid

The emergency proclamations Gov. David Ige signed for Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island will allow OHA to expedite contracting with vendors to provide these relief services. OHA is in the process of securing vendor contracts for Kauaʻi. Meanwhile, intake forms for flood relief assistance are currently available at www.oha.org/kauai and can be submitted to OHA starting on June 12 at OHA’s Kauaʻi office located at 4405 Kukui Grove St., Suite 103 in Līhuʻe.

OHA staff will be accepting intake forms and providing information on our relief aid efforts at several events on Kauaʻi next week, including the Kauaʻi Flood Relief Resources Fair on June 16 at Hanalei Elementary School.

OHA is in the process of securing vendor contracts for Hawaiʻi Island. Meanwhile, intake forms for lava relief assistance are currently available at www.oha.org/puna and may be submitted to OHA starting on June 12 at OHA’s Hilo office located at Wailoa Plaza, Suite 20-CDE, 399 Hualani Street. The completed forms will be forwarded to vendors once they are selected.

Impacted beneficiaries may visit www.oha.org/kauai and www.oha.org/puna for information on the agency’s disaster relief efforts, including intake forms for relief assistance, upcoming resource events and other updates.

OHA Mālama Loans on Hawaii News Now Sunrise on the Road

OHA Mālama Loans are helping Hawaiians entrepreneurs like Puna and Ola Trip, the owners of Liquid Life juice bar in Kea’au. Mahalo to Hawaii News Now for having our OHA Loan Manager Timmy Wailehua and the Trips on Sunrise during the 2018 Merrie Monarch Festival to let other entrepreneurs know about the low-interest loans available to support their business growth.

MĀLAMA LOANS HELPS NOHOKAI GROW ITS FLEET

Nohokai Production Services received a third loan on February  8th, 2018 for $100,000 to expand his fleet by 75 carts.

Since its start in 2005, Nohokai has grown to include approximately 200 golf carts, enough to be able to rent out several 30-cart fleets at a time. The company also has 30 off-road vehicles and 30 generators. Production crews from all the major networks, productions such as “Hawai‘i Five-O,” and “Jurassic World,” as well as festival organizers have turned to Nohokai for their needs.

“We have the largest fleet, so nobody can touch us as far as doing what we do,” Colin said.

Nohokai Production Services receives their third loan for $100,000

On February 8, 2018, Nohokai Production Services received a third loan for $100,000 to expand his fleet by 75 carts.

A Mālama Loan from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs helped Colin grow his company. “We used the money to buy more golf carts to expand the fleet,” which happened to be the new Golf Channel requirement, Colin explained. “They were expanding and they needed more cameras and they needed more carts to get the cameras around, so it was a good fit.” Now Nohokai can offer its services even when there is very high demand, Colin says. For example, when one fleet needs to be shipped to Maui for a golf tournament at Kapalua, carts are still available for
events on O‘ahu.

Colin advises other Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs to consider Mälama Loans. “It’s very helpful, especially with that interest rate, and it’s xed, too,” he said. He recommends that people get their business plans together in advance. Once that’s taken care of, the application process is quite easy, he said.

To learn more about Nohokai Production Services, read their success story or visit their website.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has helped more than 2,000 Native Hawaiian families with low interest loans to build businesses, repair homes and take care of educational expenses. For more information about OHA’s Mälama Loan Program, visit our business loan page.