MA‘O Market Will Grow Students’ Biz Smarts

Wednesday - August 18, 2010
By MidWeek Staff
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MA’O Organic Farms has won a $45,000 Community-based Development grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to create a retail shop on its 16-acre operation in Lualualei Valley, to be staffed and managed primarily by its college interns.

The well-known and growing organic farm has a partnership with Leeward Community College to train area high school graduates in agriculture while they pursue degrees at LCC.

The retail venture, MA’O Makeke, is expected to produce and sell items to guests, and a structure should be finished and in use by the end of the year, according to Wei Fang, the farm’s social enterprise director.

“The retail space would be open to serve any visitors to the farm on pre-arranged visits or during our monthly volunteer/open house GIVE days,” Fang explained.

Envisioned are economic and social experiences for the students and “high-quality, cultural experiences” for visitors, said Kukui Maunakea-Forth, executive director of Waianae Community Re-Development Corp., which established the nonprofit farm in 2000.

The new shopkeepers also will gain online marketing and sales experience by developing e-commerce via the MA’O website.

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