Crew Commentary

La’au Ha’awi: Planting Hope on Maui  

Jon Biemer



edited by Jon Biemer


A modest cadre of dedicated folks on the island of Maui, Hawai‘i, just completed an elegant initiative to provide local food, sequester carbon dioxide, and reduce transportation carbon emissions. Plant a lot of fruit trees where they will be appreciated.



Volunteers planting fruit trees at Ka Hale A Ke Ola homeless shelter in Lahaina, Hawai‘i.


From the Maui Rotary Clubs’ press release –


Laau Haawi (Gifting Tree) Maui project, in collaboration with [ten] Rotary Clubs, Maui ‘Ohana Gardens and Uncle George Kahumoku Jr. started this project Nov. 29, 2020 with the planting of 20 fruit trees at Ka Hale A Ke Ola homeless shelter in Wailuku.  Since that date the requests from individual households, non-profit groups, private schools, condos and churches flowed in, and the total of more than 800 trees such as papaya, apple banana, citrus, avocado, coconut, soursop, and Ulu have been planted around the island.  The project concluded on Feb. 19, 2021 by planting [another] 20 fruit trees at Ka Hale A Ke Ola homeless shelter in Lahaina, supported by Maui Green and Beautiful.


In addition to 1,000 trees, Uncle George Kahumoku Jr. gave out more than 2,000 saplings to farmers, households and agencies which support families in need.  Maui ‘Ohana Gardens also reached out to community groups to help them plant fruit trees.


To quote Rotary Clubs’ project coordinator Mariko Higashi: “We are so grateful to so many donors on Maui, the mainland and even from Japan for monetary contributions to this project, which made it possible to purchase many tree saplings.  Rotarians dug out a lot of apple banana and other saplings from Uncle George’s farm in Kahakuloa and along with volunteers helped plant them at various locations.  Uncle George and Uncle Kimokeo Kapahulehua donated huge amounts of saplings.  We look forward to seeing these trees grow and bear fruit so that families, friends and neighbors can share the produce.  In addition, these trees help mitigate climate change by sequestering CO2 from the air…!”  Jenny Pell, Project Manager at Maui ‘Ohana Gardens added: “It will be great if we can expand the project next winter to include schools and more public space as we could not plant in many of these locations this winter because of the restrictions caused by COVID-19 pandemic.”


In addition to Laau Haawi project, Rotary Club of Maui planted 45 sandalwood trees during February in Keokea in cooperation with the Chinese community.  Rotary Club of Lahaina has also planted more than 100 fruit trees at the Napili Community Gardens assisted by students from Maui Prep and Sacred Hearts schools.


La‘au Ha‘awi is a state-wide initiative of Hawai‘ian Rotary Clubs. Each county (island) has largely self-directed its own effort. Kudos to our fellow Hawai‘ian crewmembers on This Spaceship Earth!