Spotlight pleases farm managers

Operating Oprah Winfrey’s farm in Kula is Bio-Logical Capital’s largest project in Hawaii and is finally gaining national attention, said the company’s Hawaii director Wednesday.

Guy Kaulukukui, senior vice president and Hawaii director of Bio-Logical Capital, said the company is “pleased and flattered” to be mentioned in the June edition of O, The Oprah Magazine that offers details about Winfrey’s farm on Maui. She hired Bio-Logical Capital – which also is seeking to purchase Hana Ranch – to farm a 1-acre plot in Kula as a starting point, with as many as 19 more acres available for production.

While not being able to comment publicly about its work on the Winfrey farm in the past, Kaulukukui said Bio-Logical Capital was “willing to toil in anonymity.” Now that the news is out, company officials are happy that the magazine article shows how taking care of the soil can generate a diversity of crops that can be shared with the community.

Since August, Bio-Logical Capital, a natural resource management group with offices in Honolulu, Denver and San Francisco, has assisted Winfrey in establishing her farm. By the time Winfrey was on Maui during Christmas and New Year’s, vegetables from her 1-acre farming plot were being used in her kitchen and being given away to neighbors, said Kaulukukui, a former deputy director for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Although what Winfrey is doing is “on a large scale,” her farm provides a model for what island residents can do in their yards.

“What this does is encourage us in whatever scale we can work to plant our own gardens and reduce our dependency on imports,” said Kaulukukui.

That’s the same idea that Winfrey’s friend and health expert Bob Greene had when he encouraged Winfrey “to give back to the land,” according to the magazine. Greene noted that about 90 percent of the food on Maui is flown or shipped in from off-island.

Winfrey and Greene then plotted out creating a farm in Kula. Soon after, Bio-Logical Capital was brought on board.

Kaulukukui said the area where the farm stands had been previously farmed by Chinese workers, who lived in the area years ago. He said the soil just lacked nutrients, so the first crops grown on the land were leafy greens that were turned into compost and put back into the soil.

Since then, the farm has grown 100 varieties of crops. The magazine said that the soil is “now so good and so rich” it is producing 145 pounds of food a week.

Kaulukukui said the next step for the farm is the planting of fruit trees. In a phone interview Wednesday, Greene said that he also is looking at planting nut trees that could be used as windbreaks.

Bio-Logical Capital has a farm foreman onsite along with five farmhands. Two of the farmhands work for the company while the other three are on contract.

Kaulukukui said two of the farmhands on Winfrey’s farm will more than likely be moved if and when an agreement to purchase Hana Ranch is finalized.

The two farmhands from Winfrey’s farm will go to Hana Ranch, where there still will be cattle ranching but an expansion into organic farming, Kaulukukui said.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at