Raised in Hawaii…Believing in Tomorrow!

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What would the Haiku Ho’olaule’a & Flower Festival be without plants? Our Flower & Plant Grower’s Market is our community’s nod to the truth that “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” (Audrey Hepburn). One of this year’s Grower’s Market Co-Chairs is Mailani Souza, and what a joy she is to have on our volunteer team! Please take a moment to read about her incredible life growing up on beautiful Big Island and her amazing understanding of the importance of this land.

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Aloha! My name is Mailani Souza and I was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii.  As the daughter of a fisherman, and granddaughter of an avid gardener, I learned to love and respect nature and this beautiful place I call home at a very young age.  In high school, I attended West Hawaii Explorations Academy, one of Hawaii’s first project-based charter schools on the Kona Coast, where I further learned how to apply my goals and aspirations to real life projects and situations. Meanwhile, I spent my summers working on coffee and macadamia nut farms in the Kona coffee belt.

After high school, I traveled a bit before deciding to attend college at The University of Hawaii at Hilo. During this time, I lived and worked on a 10-acre sustainable tropical fruit farm on beautiful Papaya Farm Road in Kapoho.  Here is where I really gained experience in farming as a lifestyle and became even more passionate about the importance of community and sustainable living and farming on the islands. I received my degree in Agroecology and Environmental Quality from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resource Management in 2008. I even had the opportunity to attend Humboldt State University for a year as a part of the National Student Exchange program.  But that’s not all I received in 2008!  I was also blessed with the birth of my amazing son, Keanu.

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Today, Keanu and I live in Haiku where he attends Haiku Elementary as a kindergartener in Ms. Junger’s class, and I work as a full-time faculty member in the Agriculture and Natural Resources program at the University of Hawaii Maui College.  I couldn’t ask for a better job.  I feel so privileged to be able to share and teach the subjects that I love with students of the university.  I have taught a multitude of agriculture classes including: Sustainable Crop Production I/II, Sustainable Agriculture Systems, Greenhouse and Nursery Management, and have helped to develop and teach Organic Certification, Food Safety, and a Summer Bridge course targeted toward graduating high school students.

This semester will be the first semester that we offer Organic Certification as a credit course and with the option to enroll through our continuing education program for no credit.  On top of that, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with many farmers and other agriculture professional in the community here on Maui and just recently became a member of Hawaii Farmers Union United.  I am looking forward to becoming a part of the 21st Annual Haiku Ho’olaule’a and Flower Festival in 2014 as a co-chair in the Grower’s Market!

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As you can see, Haiku is quite blessed to have a woman of such understanding and experience with the land, and we are grateful to have her on our volunteer team. If you’d like to have a plant or garden booth at the 2014 Grower’s Market, you may click here to apply and find out more information. The deadline to have your business or organization’s name included in the festival brochure is March 12. A late fee will be assessed after March 12.

See you soon – PeaceLoveHaiku!

Save the Date: 21st Annual Haiku Ho’olaule’a and Flower Festival . Saturday, April 12, 2014

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