“We used to transport our Kūpuna (elders) years ago to pick up their fresh produce, and it’s an honor today to teach people the importance of connecting with their food,” said Lani Weigert, president of the Hawai‘i AgriTourism Association.
AgriTourism is another way to sustain a farmer, enabling them to take their traditional agricultural practices and expand that effort into hospitality and education. Additional revenue also comes from value-added products such as jellies and jams made from their crops.
Family and friends have been invited to farms for generations, and has helped to sustain farmers for decades. Now, this special experience is being offered every week to visitors and local residents.
The Grown on Maui Bus Tour begins at Whole Foods Market, where a behind-the-scenes tour is provided to teach people how to shop on a budget at the store.
The “new” visitor is seeking experiences that teach, inform and engage.
“Everyone seeks an authentic experience that is enjoyable and memorable,” said Weigert. “People want to know where and how their food is grown.”
Local residents and visitors alike are strongly encouraged to take this entertaining and informative tour. Feedback from participants who already took the tour, said it was the most unique experience they had on Maui.
“I love the special access we get by being part of the tour,” said a visitor from Iowa.
Local residents commented that they remembered when they worked in the old pineapple cannery in Kahului during the summers. Being on the tour reminded them of those “good ole days.”
The tour begins at Whole Foods Market, where a behind-the-scenes tour is provided to teach people how to shop on a budget at the store.
Seafood, beef, cheese and chocolate samples are offered throughout the tour, and a continental breakfast of locally sourced fruits, coffee and breads is provided.
“The importance of farmers having a place like Whole Foods Market to offer their fresh produce to the public is paramount,” said Executive Director of Maui County Farm Bureau Warren Watanabe. “No matter where a person lives, buying locally sourced foods is important to the sustainability of its community.”
The next stop is Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Company, where the staff shares a brief history of growing pineapple on Maui and how their farming operation has evolved today. See how pineapple is grown and learn the interesting facts about choosing the sweetest pineapple in the supermarket.
“Hāli‘imaile’s Pineapple Company’s untold story of how they rose against all odds, is so inspiring, I’m glad I came on the tour,” said Maui Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Terryl Vencl.
The tour proceeds to O’o Farm, where an assortment of crops is grown. Though you will see crops ranging from coffee to lettuce, the owners of O’o Farm (who also own Pacific’O and I’O Restaurants in Lahaina) focus on providing a unique culinary experience by using the freshest farm ingredients, prepared in creative ways, bringing forth all the delicious flavors nature has to offer.
After lunch, the tour heads to Ali‘i Kula Lavender farm, and a creamy Lavender Chocolate Gelato dessert. Participants will learn about the farm, the “Language of Flowers” and have the opportunity to experience “Everything Lavender” at the Gallery Gift Shop.
The tour ends at Whole Foods Market.
Visitors can reserve a seat for the Grown on Maui Bus Tour by contacting their activities desk, concierge desk or Akina Aloha Tours. Tour operates every Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. A minimum 24-hour advance reservation is required.
Kama‘āina rate are available with a Hawai‘i ID: Call 891-4604.
Hawai‘i AgriTourism Association, Maui County Farm Bureau and Maui Visitors Bureau endorse this tour.