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June 26, 2008
by smmmarti guide
July 14, 2003
Dancing along the shirttails of Haleakala is a gorgeous farm called Nanea a’o Kula. It isn't easy to find, so follow the website directions. When I went recently, I'd driven twenty minutes past the landmark down a winding eucalyptus lined road where the only signs of life were cattle grazing. My ears were popping in earnest as I headed straight up Haleakala, the vistas giving clear access to both coasts of the Valley Isle, when I wondered if I’d missed the turn somewhere about twenty minutes back.
"Have I missed it?" I'd asked anxiously via cellphone.
"Keep going. Watch for Waipoli lane and just go all the way up."
The two lane road gave way to an even narrower road and then reduced further to a one lane drive hugging the side of the mountain and meandering through stunning meadows and farmlands. Soon, a stout and impossibly cheerful man waved me into a parking spot adjacent to a clapboard house. A Japanese garden, potted plants, oriental antiques and Buddha’s, and other artfully placed object d’art du jardin competed for my attention.
"See, we just planted these two weeks ago and see how the lavender loves us!," Ali’I Chang pointed to the lavender he nurtures like his children. A tour of the farm and gardens with Ali’I will give enough information to start your own enterprise.
Ali`I had worked for years in Hana’s Protea Farm before he took a turn at doing things his way when he bought this former Protea Farm in Kula. Drought made Protea farming unappealing, so he seized on the popularity of lavender as a cash crop and struck gold. Not only did he find that more than 20 varieties of lavender thrive in the Kula climate, their presence also rejuvenated many failing Protea plants. Who’d have thought Protea and Lavendar make good bedfellows?
A young sous chef from Mama’s Fish House arrived in time to prepare lunch using many of the items for sale at the gift shack; herbs de Kula (lavender, rosemary, sage, sea salt, that is divine), and lavender/tarragon/rosemary dressing. On the lanai he prepared seared shrimp on delicately seasoned slaw, before diners took seats under umbrellas to enjoy a luscious lunch of all things lavender, from the tea to scones, to Kula greens accented with crispy sweet wonton slivers. Lemonade tinted with the flower flowed throughout the afternoon.
A tiny boutique shed tucked into the gardens sells every manner of lavender infused lotion, salve and jam. Eye pillows, pillow liner, wreaths, wands for bringing relaxation to all corners of your life, and a lover’s potion, (an edible lavender scented gel that heats up when you blow on it) tempts further.
Ali'i and his staff are the most personable hosts we've ever encountered. Kids love them and mine admitted the feeling here was so warm and inviting, they would come every day. Actually, I think they want to live here.
From journal Maui with Keiki