Hua Makana Farm
The name of our farm, Hua Makana, means “Nature’s Gift” in Hawaiian language. It is built upon the ruins of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village. It is nestled between the vast Pacific Ocean and a lush tropical jungle. Our goal is to achieve self sufficiency through our responsible tending of the 2.5-acre land, and share our abundance with our community.
We are off grid, meaning we rely on solar systems to generate our own power, and water catchment systems to harvest and filter rain water. For our volunteers, it is a great place to get a taste of off-grid living and be submerged in nature, while still having the modern convenience close by and living with, I would say, a decent amount of creature comfort. :)
The farm is 8.8 miles/17 minutes by car from the nearest town, Pahoa. There is a bus stop 1.5 miles away from our farm. We will also take you on our town trips at least once a week to get your supplies. Or, if you are the adventurous type with good discernment, hitchhiking, although “illegal”, is not an uncommon way for people without a car to get around in this part of the island.
The farm itself is a quiet and peaceful place, among gorgeous nature. It is not a social hub with lots of hustles and bustles and lots of partying. The lower Puna/Pahoa area where we are in, is known for its new age community and a strong bohemian flair. There is no shortage of fun social gatherings, from sustainable living work shops to drum circles, sound healing and ecstatic dances.
If you are looking for a place to be away from the city, want to feel energized being in your body and doing physical work on the land, while still having the option to branch out and experience the vibrant vibe of the greater new age community, this can be very much the right place.
WHO WE ARE LOOKING FOR:
• We are looking for volunteers who are dynamic, hard-working, enjoy being in their bodies and doing hands-on physical work, and who thrive in nature and don’t mind living and working with the elements. A positive attitude is also a must.
• We usually have between 2 to 4 volunteers at one time.
MINIMUM STAY PERIOD:
• We ask for a minimum 3 week stay
• Once a trip is confirmed, we ask our volunteers to fully commit to the time frame agreed upon. Hawaii has four major islands (Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island); each one is very unique and beautiful. We highly encourage our volunteers to visit at least another island while they are in Hawaii, but please plan ahead so you don’t suddenly realize there are other islands to see and leave ahead of your scheduled departure date. It is not very fair for us or for the other applicants we turn down to reserve the spot for you.
• With the right person with the right skill set, this has the possibility of turning into a long term residency with more permanent lodging arrangement and a stipend. At this moment the skills we are in greatest need of are building, carpentry, repairs and maintenances. We look for people who are “pono” (honest and upright) in their thoughts and actions, and who takes joy in moving projects to completion with high standards.
WHAT WE EXPEC OF YOU:
• 18.5 hours a week, with the week starting on your first night. As long as we are holding your spot, we ask you to please fulfill the 18.5 weekly hours commitment even if you stay elsewhere for a day or more while exploring the island.
• The hours prorate to approximately 2 hours 40 min per night if you leave before your week starting date.
• Our volunteers typically work from Monday through Thursday. We usually start from 8 am and end at 1 pm with a 25-minute tea break from 10:30 am to 10:55 am. Our volunteers will have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. We hope the long weekends will give our volunteers the opportunity to explore our wonderfully diverse island!
• We don’t really watch over our volunteers’ shoulders. We ask our volunteers to conscientiously keep track of their own work hours.
• We ask our volunteers to practice mindfulness and functional speech while working, and limit social chic-hats.
BEST SUITED INDIVIDUALS:
• Independent, self-sufficient and hard working.
• Those who already follow a vegetarian / vegan lifestyle.
• Those who maintain an active lifestyle (regular hikers, bikers, jogging...).
• Those who enjoy nature and outdoor work.
• Those with a positive attitude and a growth mindset (embracing all experiences as growth opportunities).
• Those who are not coming for an easy and low-cost vacation; but coming to help, to be of service, and to fully embrace a farm life and nature.
GUIDELINES WHILE ON OUR PROPERTY:
• Follow a VEGETARIAN / VEGAN DIET.
• No drugs, alcohol or smoking, no drama. 420 friendly.
• Quiet hours start from 9 PM to 7:30 AM except for certain nights of communal activities.
• Please bring headphones to listen to your personal music.
• LEAVE NO TRACE. Always tidy up after yourself in our communal and work space.
OFF GRID RUSTIC LIFESTYLE:
• We are on solar and water catchments systems, and we are very mindful of our water and electric use
• Daily practices include short showers (no more than 5 minutes), plugging electronic devices in during the day, and unplugging devices when not in use, doing laundry only in the middle of the day with fun sun.
• We do not have the power to run high energy items like curling irons, hair dryers etc. Kitchen blenders are to be used sparsely and only when there is full sun.
• Your stay may feel like camping or glamping.
• Expect all things that come with living closely with nature, including mosquito, bugs, sighting of rodents, occasional power outages, spotty cell service, and getting physically dirty.
PROJECTS / TASKS:
We live next to a jungle full of vibrant life. We are also only a few hundred feet away from the Pacific ocean. Therefore our 2.5-acre land is blessed with lush tropical beauty, loads of fruit trees, as well as a good amount of work to keep us busy, as plants/weed grow, tools rust, and structures break down very very fast. We need your help in:
1. Garden and ground maintenance
• Weeding: Mostly hand weeding. If you are comfortable with weedwhacking and or mowing, that is great too.
• Clearing: Racking of fallen leaves, hauling fallen coconut fronds or tree branches etc.
• Mulching: Involves loading up mulch to wheelbarrows, take them out to fruit trees and spread them around
• Nursery: Potting and planting
• Composting: Involves taking kitchen scraps to the composting piles, turning of the compost, and spraying of the compost buckets
• Harvesting etc.
2. Structure maintenance
• Sanding, painting and/or staining
• Cleaning of screens/windows
• Building fixer up projects for the handy ones
• Furniture restoration etc.
3. DIY and art
• Making meditative paths
• Making swings and benches; creating nooks and cranny spots
• Other functional art projects
• Any interior and exterior beautification project – We want to build our farm into a small, intimate and affordable retreat center. Any ideas on projects that you believe will enhance the serene energy and beauty of this farm are welcome! As a former volunteer myself, I have seen amazing artistic footprints left by other volunteers at the places I stayed. They communicate so much to those who will encounter them and create such delights. I hope for the same for our beloved farm.
4. Other ad hoc projects
We are still in our building stage. So there might be projects that we need your help with on an ad hoc basis. Occasionally I may ask for your help with housekeeping or cleaning. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to do anything that I won’t do myself – with that said, I do do a lot at the farm! Wink wink.
5. Community projects or lending a helping hand to neighbors
During your stay, there might be some community volunteer projects that we like to partake in. Also, we are in a close-knit community of small organic farmers. Sometimes a neighbor might need some extra helping hands at their farm. Any hours working on these projects will be counted towards your worktrade hours. You can opt out but it is a great opportunity to meet the community and see different homestead practice.
We try to make the tasks of our volunteers as varied as possible. However, sometimes you may have to work on one single task for multiple days because of the weather (such as continuous rains) or some time-sensitive needs.
• We ask our volunteers to follow vegetarian or vegan diet on property.
• Eggs and dairy are okay. No meat and no fish.
• We provide our volunteers with cooking supplies such as pasta, oat meals, peppers, cooking oil, and some other seasoning supplies.
• You are welcome to harvest greens and fruits from the land, which are usually plentiful.
• You will need to purchase anything extra to fulfill your own dietary needs.
• There is room to store your personal foods that you have purchased in the refrigerator and bins.
• This is a great opportunity to practice an Aina diet (“eating off the land”).
You will be either sharing a bell tent or staying in your own smaller tent with canopy. There will be a sleeping pad or mattress, a pillow, a rechargeable lantern and fan for each tent/volunteer. The tents are simply furnished in a glamping style. We provide washed bed sheet, blankets or sleeping bags, and pillows. But you are more than welcome to bring your bedding or sleeping bags. Please let us know in advance so we know we don’t need to make the bed for you.
KITCHEN / COMMUNAL AREA:
• Volunteers share a screened-in kitchen with a 4-burner stove-top and a community hang out space called “the Barn”. There is a blender, instant pot, and a bread maker. Most of our past volunteers have found the space comfortable and charming in a rustic way.
• We ask volunteers to clean up after themselves at the Barn on a daily basis with other deeper cleaning projects getting work credit usually biweekly.
• There is a communal bathroom with a flush toilet.
• There is a covered outdoor shower with on-demand hot water.
We usually have communal potluck dinners once a week. From time to time, we hold movie nights or karaoke nights based on everyone’s interest.
Almost every Sunday, we go to the greater community’s mantra chanting circles and drum circles. We are happy to invite our volunteers to come along with us. We also like to include our volunteers in our social gathering with friends and neighbors.
The farm is located 8.8 miles/17 minutes by car from the closest town, Pahoa, on the east side of the Big Island. We highly recommend booking your flight tickets to arrive at the Hilo airport (ITO). Note that there are two main airports on the Big Island. One is in Hilo, and the other one is in Kailua-Kona, and they are on opposite sides of the island. Hilo is much closer to our farm. The travel time by car from Hilo to our farm is around 45 minutes with no traffic, while coming from Kona it will be 2.5 hours. If you take public transportation, the time difference is even much bigger. Therefore, unless there is a huge price differences in air tickets, you should book your ticket to fly into Hilo, IF you do plan to fly into Kona, please research how you will get to Pahoa. You might need to stay an extra night at Kona.
When you arrive at Hilo, you can:
1. Take a taxi to directly get to our farm. The cost will be around $80 to $100 from Hilo. It is recommended that you book a taxi driver before hand. We can book it for you if you do not have a US phone – it might be easier for us to call them locally if you are not living in the US. The taxi ride will take around 40 minutes with no traffic.
2. Book an Uber/Lyft. It is recommended that you book in advance. The quotes can vary from $80 to $50. One previous volunteer tried different points of time to book and got her best quote of $50 the day before her arrival. However, I am not sure if timing of booking is the only factor that has influenced the pricing.
3. Take the public transportation system (Hele-On Busto get to Pahoa. Right now the Hele-On Buses are free and fairly clean and comfortable – I did a test ride myself! There are two connections you need to take. The total duration is around 2 hours. At Pahoa, the bus conveniently stops outside of Puna Kai, the town’s shopping center.
Whether you are taking a taxi, Uber or the bus, We usually can pick you up from Pahoa between 10 am to 8:30 pm.
Please allow a 20-30 minutes of grocery shopping time before our pickup. Malama Market, which is the area’s largest grocery store, is located within Puna Kai where the bus stops. There is also a goodwill store if you want to pick up some farm clothes there. There is a Cricket store there if you want to pick up a US sim card for your phone.
• We are located 1.5 miles away from a bus stop where you can take the bus to go to Pahoa. You can walk or bike over there. The bus runs once every hour from 6:10 am to 8:10 pm.
• We provide complimentary bike use to our volunteers and ask you to take good care of them.
• We are happy to drop our volunteers off at Pahoa on our errands if the timing works out.
• Hitchhiking is also a common form of transportation for those who are comfortable and savvy enough doing so.
To someone who is used to frequent and easily accessible public transportations of big cities, our location could seem remote.
• We have some beautiful tide pools, sea arches, sand dune right at our door step, within easy walking distance!
• The Lighthouse beach, 40 minutes biking away.
• The beach road, where our farm is located at, is a gorgeous road to bike or walk on, along Jurassic-park-like scenery.
• Maku’u Point, 35 minutes bike ride away.
• Rainbow Falls, Boiling Pots, Akaka Falls, and Narnia waterfall hikes are located near Hilo, 45 minutes drive time away without traffic.
• Beautiful Carl Smith Beach Park (swimming, turtle watching and chilling), Richardson Ocean Park (swimming, snorkeling, surfing, turtle watching), Honoli’i Beach (surfing) near Hilo
• Volcano National Park, 50 minutes driving.
• There are a health food store and a large mainstream grocery store in Pahoa. There are also some cafes, bakeries and restaurants,
• Neighborhood farmers’ markets
• Hilo has a shopping mall, Walmart, Target, Safeway, multiple health food stores, farmers’ day market and night market …
WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING:
Besides what you would normally pack for a multiple-week trip to the tropics,
1. Lightweight, breathable work clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty
2. A pair of close-toed shoes that are easy to slip in and out off. Close-toed because it will provide better protection when we are working with tree branches, walking on rock walls etc. Easy slip on and off because here in Hawaii, we usually leave our shoes at the door steps before we enter a house/room. You don’t want to struggle with shoes strings all the time!
3. A pair of flip flops (it is probably already in your packing list)
4. A pair of comfortable walking/hiking shoes (if you are planning on some hiking trips on your own. There are also places to walk to nearby the farm such as sand dunes and tidal ponds).
5. A pair of gardening gloves
6. Mosquito repellents
7. A wide-rim, breathable hat. It is a personal preference to wear hats when working outside. I do find it helpful to keep the spider webs away. And if you are working under a tree that happens to have fire ants, a wide rim hat provides some protection. Just for the record, our farm is treated for fire ants regularly. There are some spots that still have fire ant activities, usually along the border of the jungle. I was bitten by fire ants probably four or five times in the past two years.
8. One good head lamp
9. Plant-based, biodegradable toiletry products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste...).
10. Sun block.
11. A pair of goggles for swimming and watching tropical fish. We have tide pools within walking/biking distance.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOUR STAY:
• We do not provide any insurance for injuries, damage or theft of any kind for any reason. We recommend you have your own insurance. If you decide to help here you are confirming that you agree to this condition.
• We have experienced very little helper issues and we are very careful and conscientious to ensure that continues.
• At any time if there is a job assigned you do not feel safe about, please let us know and we will switch you up to another task.
Release of liability:
We will email a release of general liability form for you to sign a few days before your arrival. This is nothing personal, and is merely in recognition of the time and space we are in being highly litigious. It will not lessen our effort to keep our volunteers safe and away from harm during their stay.
If you want to review the release of general liability form before hand, please request us to send you a copy.
Phone / Internet:
There are phone signals in some areas of the farm. So if you have a U.S. phone with data, you can get internet that way in some parts of the farm. AT&T and Cricket seem to have stronger signals than other carriers. There is stable Starlink internet in the main house. There is a rustic “internet lounge” area which is also the laundry shed where our volunteers use wifi near the main house.
• The elements take a toll on physical things so please be open to dealing with dirt, smells , bugs, rodents, mold, rust, overall wear & tear, and old items.
• We try to use our things until the last bit so we appreciate volunteers who demonstrate mindfulness in the use of tools, and/or interest in repairing and creatively fixing things.
• We try to always make improvements but sometimes that may be slow or limited due to funds or time restraints. We ask our volunteers to be accommodating, knowing that we literally are living at the edge of a real jungle.
There is high humidity, so we recommend you do not bring any expensive and/or sensitive electronics or bring them in a large zip lock.
The Big Island:
• Hawai’i is expensive so it is best to have funds saved up for food, rental cars for weekends explorations, and entertainment.
• Most free time activities will be arranged by yourself and / or other volunteers and renters on our property
• People on the island may also be very open to include you in experiencing the magic of Hawai’i. Don’t be shy to open up and try to build that connection!
A little bit about myself and other residents on the farm….I am Chinese, a Buddhist, a former CPA firm partner who decided to follow her childhood dream of living in a tropical fruit forest as a farmer. At this moment, I live on the farm with my boy friend, Gio, Italian, visual artist/farmer. We currently have a long-term resident, Dani. Dani is from Germany. Besides helping us to tend to the land, she is also a sound healing artist.
We have cats and dogs, all are very sweet in nature.
We would like to think we treat others the way we want to be treated, with respect and an open mind. We work hard here at the farm ourselves, and we expect our volunteers to carry the same momentum. We live off grid and rely on sun and rains for our energy and water need. We also live in the most expensive state in the whole U.S. These factors call for a higher degree of mindfulness in how we utilize our resources. We encourage honest open communication. I was a wwoofer myself in one phase of my life. I invite you to be flexible, yet be open with us regarding your needs. We hope to co-create a great volunteer experience for you and a great hosting experience for ourselves. Much aloha and much mahalo!