Saturday, February 21, 2015

Southernmost WWOOFing in the USA (a salute to Earth Matters farm).

Seed, plant, weed, harvest - the life of a farmer.

Okay, maybe there's a little more to it than that.

Okay, maybe there's a whole lot more to it than that. But after spending decades in the fields of Southern California, Mexico and now Hawaii, Greg Smith has this farming thing down to a science.

Some might say it's a mad science - at Greg's farm you'll find no garden maps, no written schedules of what was planted when, no documentation on how the last crop fared, no popsicle sticks in the seed trays or garden rows indicating what was planted, no permaculture books on site, no xeroxed copies of what vegetables complement other vegetables...

no idea what's in those trays
(but the farmer knows!)

All of this may not be written down but it's definitely all in Greg's head. His hearty 3-acre garden supports a 30-member-and-growing CSA as well as a weekly farmer's market... and his mad scientist approach totally works!

Welcome to South Point, where everything is the "southernmost" in the USA: the southernmost bakery, the southernmost point to jump in the ocean, the southernmost city signpost, the southernmost restaurant, and of course the southernmost organic veggie farm:

also known as
our first WWOOF gig in Hawaii

At Earth Matters Farm, just about any vegetable (and even some fruits) thrive year-round. Greg has just three hardfast rules for the farm: never use chemical sprays, don't immediately replant the same veggies in the bed you've just cleared, and always add calcium before you plant a new crop. Anything else is pretty flexible.

We spent almost 6 weeks at Earth Matters and we loved every minute. Each day was basically the same - and I definitely don't mean this in a bad way.

we seeded

we planted

we weeded
("are we there yet?" "just a little further...")

we harvested

Like any farm, every day was the same and yet every day was different. We might show up on Monday to a mess from a windstorm, or a full-on chicken hunt after finding decimated cucumbers.

gale force winds the day before we arrived

"where's my gun?!"

Tuesdays might find us harvesting carrots, or squash, or eggplant, or celery, or fennel, or turnips, or broccoli, or beans, or bok choy, or any mix of the myriad of greens in Greg's garden... and sometimes all of that... for the CSA boxes.

boxes o'plenty

beautiful turnips

sweet carrots

squash bounty

Wednesdays one or both of us worked at the Ho'oulu Community Farmers Market, where the produce for sale changed weekly.

service with a smile

Thursdays and Fridays at the farm were usually pretty chill. Sometimes we worked on small farm maintenance projects, sometimes we had seeding or planting or weeding or harvesting projects.

operation banana plant relocation 2015

the winter '15 turmeric harvest

Thursdays and Fridays also usually involved a lot of quality time with Pumpkin and Pineapple, the southernmost cutest farm cats in the USA.


"double helping"

We loved the peace and quiet at the farm. We loved the weekly routine. We enjoyed the company of our fellow WWOOFers and all the other regulars at the farm. On most days, Greg would point out a few projects in the morning and we'd all get to work. If we finished our projects we'd find something else to do - there's always something to do on a farm...

... like teach Pumpkin bad habits

... or snuggle with Pineapple

Twice during our stay Greg hosted workshops for a local nonprofit at the farm, and another time he held a two-part soil class for local gardeners. In exchange for a little help putting lunch together, we were able to attend the soil class and learned heaps about fermentation as fertilizer, soil composition, and how to balance nutrients in the soil for optimum plant growth.

machete + banana flower + sugar + time
= fertilizer

soil class: like high school science class,
only relevant and fun

Once in a while we did yard work around the WWOOFer accommodations. We stayed in the lower flat of a vacation rental that helps supplement the farm and WWOOFers. Our flat was spacious and well-equipped and the gardens around the house were just stunning, especially after we spent several days weeding and cleaning up the yard to let the beautiful tropical plants breathe.



a rainy yard work day
is still better than Monday in a cube

It wasn't all work though - if you can really call this "work." We got down to South Point a few times after "work" and we also did some local hikes.

Patrick, the southernmost jumper in the USA at that moment

some of the southernmost lava rock trails at Manuka State Park

Kahuku's beautiful Kona Trail
featuring the southernmost oldest hardwood trees on earth

Oh yeah, and Jen turned 40 during her stay.

southernmost birthday celebration
(with WWOOFer Alex)

Greg encouraged us to explore but honestly, DAY 650. We were happy to just sit on the porch after work and watch the sun go down and the moon come up between the trees.


6:58pm, one week later

We were also happy to eat delicious food from the farm and the backyard.

best carrots EVAH
(it helps when one of your WWOOF roomies is a chef)

eat five colors a day, kids!


looks just like my Pearl Jam t-shirt

fresh from the backyard

fresh from the ocean

In case we haven't said it enough here or elsewhere, we really loved our stay at Earth Matters. We learned a lot from Greg in our short time and we know we will put a lot of this knowledge to use when we start our own garden. We've also made some wonderful friends that we know we'll see again someday... maybe sooner than we all realize!

mahalo nui loa, Greg and Gail!

we'll see YOU again too, farm

But change is good. We're now at our last Hawaiian farm - a coffee/mac nut farm, of course! - for a few weeks before we head back to winter in Maryland.

Hmmm. Winter in Maryland. Hmm. Perhaps we should reconsider this plan...

1 comment:

  1. if you hurry, you can harvest the salt from the undercarraige of my Honda