Big aloha from Mahina Mele’s new WWOOFer

Alooohaa! My name is Lola Hylton and I am currently doing work-trade through the WWOOF Hawai’i program for Jason and Kollette Stith who own and operate Mahina Mele Farm, Kona’s largest certified organic macadamia nut farm, as well as the #1 macadamia nut processor on the Big Island! Not only are the wonderful Stith family farming mac nuts, they are growing, harvesting, and processing 100% certified organic Kona coffee. I will be posting once or more a week, documenting my experiences and adventures on this beautiful farm and this big, beautiful island.

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I am so grateful and excited to be back working the Earth on the magical island of Hawai’i. I was working on the windward side of the Big Island three months ago, in Pahoa, farming vegetables and supplying them to our local organic grocers and cafes around the Hilo area. This WWOOF will be my first time on the leeward side of the island in Kona, where the farming is much different than the wet, jungle-y farming in Pahoa.

Here at Mahina Mele, I have been helping Kollette pick the bright red and purple coffee cherries while the farm dogs, Hannah and Gypsy, trot along beside us. I can’t say I’ve ever done work that is remotely similar to harvesting coffee, but I am truly enjoying it! I have found myself daydreaming about the next time I’ll get to go out with the picking bucket strapped around my shoulders and the gancho (wooden hook used to lower the peaks of the coffee trees for easier harvesting) in hand. The plinking of coffee cherries hitting the bottom of the metal bucket is a very satisfying sound, I must say. The coffee trees on our farm are of the species Coffea arabica, with a handful of the trees belonging to the caturra variety that produces brilliant, golden cherries.
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We process all of our coffee by hand to ensure that it reaches you, the happy coffee-drinker, with all of it’s flavor and goodness intact. Twice or so an hour, we rake and turn the drying beans on our massive drying deck with hand-made tools–we like to keep our beans surrounded by good vibes from harvest to packaging.  And let me take a moment to say this: if you ever are presented with the opportunity to smell fresh-picked coffee cherries fermenting…do it. What a wonderful fragrance! It smells so much like a delicious and aromatic wine–truly sublime.
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As Kollette and I were ending our day of coffee picking, we were given a really special surprise by the Earth Mother.  I noticed something that definitely did not look like any sort of a coffee plant moving in one of the trees we were about to harvest from.  Upon closer inspection, we saw that it was a Jackson’s chameleon (Chamaeleo jacksonii) making it’s way up the trunk of the tree!  Kollette and I held him for awhile and took some photos with him since he, and his brilliant colors, brightened up this sunny day in Kona.
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Until the next post, big aloha and mahalo for reading!

Lola