Fall Family Fun

Search for the Great Pumpkin at Aloun Farms.

Pumpkin Patch Kids

While it seems that island seasons drift somewhere between “humid,” “more humid,” “sun” and “rain,” you definitely know it’s fall when the ALOUN FARMS PUMPKIN PATCH is open.

Celebrating its 14th year, the Aloun Farms Pumpkin Festival is the perfect opportunity to experience farm life. Thousands of people attend each year—the festival is held the last three weekends each October—last year, the Pumpkin Festival hosted 50,000 visitors! Aloun Farms is Hawai‘i’s largest diversified farm, allowing for a host of harvesting activities such as different varieties of pumpkins, ‘Ewa Sweet Corn, sunflowers, melons and beans. In the “Kaukau Village,” visitors dine on menu items featuring the farms fresh produce. At the Plantation Stage fun abounds in the form of live entertainment.

Nothing says "fall" like a hayride with the family. PHOTO: COURTESY ALOUN FARMS PUMPKIN FESTIVAL

Nothing says “fall” like a hayride with the family. PHOTO: COURTESY ALOUN FARMS PUMPKIN FESTIVAL

New for this year is the All American Military Appreciation day on Oct. 11 (also opening day). Show a military ID and receive free entrance to the event. The second weekend of the festival will feature Creations of Hawai‘i’s Local Craft Fair at the Grower Pavilion. The third weekend will feature pumpkin carving and costume contests.

“One of our favorite aspects of the festival is while on the hayride with visitors,” says Michael Moefu, community outreach/ marketing and safety director for Aloun Farms. “[It] takes families on a tractor-pulled wagon through nearly 1,200 acres of farmland. During the 10-minute ride, we’re able to meet with families, some of whom have never been on a farm before; while other visitors have been with us since the very beginning.”

Keiki proudly display the pumpkins they plucked. PHOTO: COURTESY ALOUN FARMS PUMPKIN FESTIVAL

Keiki proudly display the pumpkins they plucked. PHOTO: COURTESY ALOUN FARMS PUMPKIN FESTIVAL

That tradition has been a part of the community since 2000, when the Sou family opened up the farm the public. However, it’s about more than hayrides and fun. “Owners Alec and Mike Sou strongly believe in the importance of education and sustainability,” says Moefu. “Each year, the farm hosts more than 15,000 keiki during its annual school tours teaching the importance of local diversified agriculture.” Aloun Farms also partners with Hawaii Food Bank, and raised nearly 9,000 pounds of canned goods during its Pumpkin Festivals and a combined total of 2.5 million pounds of produce during their 10-year partnership. Visitors are encouraged to bring in canned goods (or monetary donations) for the Hawaii Food Bank during the Pumpkin Festival.

Get ready for an ‘Ewa Picking Good Time down at Aloun Farms!

Aloun Farms Pumpkin Festival Oct. 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Admission $3, ages 2 and under free Free: hayrides and parking (Pumpkins priced according to size) Cash only

For more information:
www.alounfarms.com/pumpkin-PATCH.ASP

Another Roadside Attraction

Reclaiming lands to grow native plants and our children’s minds

ROADWAY LANDSCAPING is not usually a topic of conversation.

Perhaps with the notable exception of the public outrage over the $1.5 million in palm trees put down the median of Nimitz Highway ahead of the APEC meetings, it is hard to picture another time when we thought about the unused tracts of land framing our roads.

But this seems short sighted, especially in a place where land is our most finite resource. Why would we relegate such vast swaths of land to a life of growing sunburnt beige grass and collecting old McDonald’s rubbish?

A cluster of fragrant flowers on an Alahe‘e tree. PHOTO: DENNIS ODA

A cluster of fragrant flowers on an Alahe‘e tree. PHOTO: DENNIS ODA

The residents of Leeward O‘ahu agreed, and along with former executive vice president of Hawaiian Electric Robbie Alm, decided to do something about it.

They hired a group named HUI KU MAOLI OLA to design and install a project that runs from the northern edge of the Kahe Power Plant that is a half-mile long and 30 feet wide on the mauka side of Farrington Highway. It will serve as a living classroom for the students of the nearby Malama Learning Center and Nanakuli High School once the safety and parking issues are addressed.

It consists of three garden themes and uses only native Hawaiian species of plants. Coming from Ko Olina the first garden you will encounter is the medicinal garden or La‘au Lapa‘au.

Here they feature 21 different species of plants that are used by native Hawaiians to treat a number of ailments, such as the ko’oko’olau that is made into a herbal tea to treat stomach ailments or asthma and noni that can be used to treat everything from cancer to diabetes to headaches.

The project on the northern edge of the Kahe Power Plant consists of three garden themes and uses only native Hawaiian plants. PHOTO: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

The project on the northern edge of the Kahe Power Plant consists of three garden themes and uses only native Hawaiian plants. PHOTO: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

The second tract is the fishing/canoe garden or lawai‘a where they have planted trees like the alahe‘e, whose hardwoods are used to craft spears for poking octopus and in the making of fish and shark hooks, and ‘akia whose bark produces one of the strongest Hawaiian fibers for making ropes and braids.

Finally is the Kumulipo or Source of Life garden where culturally significant plants such as the kukui trees and ‘ulei bushes will be grow. The kukui were used to first create light in the islands as the base for their first candles and torches while the ‘ulei were made into fishing spears and the musical instrument ‘ukeke.

The plantings are done according to traditional Hawaiian protocol using the phases of the moon and accompanied with ho‘okupu (offerings) and oli (chants). The planting portion is complete now, but it obviously will take some time before anything can be harvested.

But as these plants grow, so will the knowledge of our students about their ancestors and the realization that all our aina is important, even if it is just the side of the road.