TITLE: Family Farmer and President of Hawai‘i Farmers Union United
MOTHER, NATURE: When Vince’s wife, Irene, was pregnant with their daughter, Kahanu, she experienced an unusual craving: sunflower greens. Turns out, it was biological serendipity.
“I eventually said, ‘Why do we keep buying them? I can grow them,’” remembers Vince. “It started with feeding our family. We loved [the greens] so much and thought others would, too.”
Soon, Kahanu ‘Aina Greens, and the child that inspired it, were born.
ROOM TO GROW: Twenty-one years later, this family farm in Wailuku produces about 400 pounds of greens weekly, including sunflower, pea, radish and wheatgrass varieties. And they do it all within just 2,000 square feet.
“I call this the largest small farm in Hawai‘i,” laughs Vince.
Once the greens are mature, the family cuts, washes, spin dries and bags them within the hour—then composts and reuses the excess soil to create a closed-loop sustainable system. Each harvest lands at local grocers, hotels and restaurants, including Mana Foods, Hyatt Regency Maui, and Flatbread Company.
FAMILY MATTERS: Walking around Kahanu ‘Āina Greens is like crashing a family reunion. You may find Vince and Irene preparing the seeds for planting, while son Kekai or daughter Kahanu harvests fresh greens nearby.
“My family would be very different if I was off working on a farm all day and coming home at night. And they’re actually part of it here. That’s the blessing,” says Vince.
He adds that it’s not just about growing food; it’s about creating community.
“More people are becoming aware that food is their medicine, so there’s a greater value in consuming nutrient-dense foods. We come from the perspective that we take care of ourselves, so we can take care of our family, so we can take care of the community, in that sequence.”