Ka Maha ʻUlu o Koholālele – The Breadfruit Grove of Koholālele

Ka Maha ʻUlu o Koholālele, literally translated as “the breadfruit grove of Koholālele,” is a community-led food system project transforming approximately 80 acres of former sugar plantation and current eucalyptus plantation lands in Koholālele, Hāmākua, Hawaiʻi, into Hawaiʻi’s largest regenerative ʻulu (breadfruit) agroforestry system.

Accordingly, we wanted to be very intentional about who we invited into the process of planning and planting this space. Between September – October 2021, we worked with Ola Design Group to draft a baseplan for the Kilohana section of Ka Maha ʻUlu (Figure 5), which we would utilize in November to lay out and plant our first 65 ʻulu trees. While there are hundreds of other trees and crops still to be planted out in this section, we wanted to start with having the ʻulu planted by an intergenerational group of individuals from our community who represent the kumu (sources) from which the abundance of this maha ʻulu (breadfruit grove) will grow. The first 65 ʻulu trees were thus planted by 85 individuals ranging in age from 2-85, representing four living generations in our community, including keiki enrolled in our HoAMa After School Program. Photos of all who planted so far at Ka Maha ʻUlu can be seen on our website.

One of the most beautiful moments that took place during these planting sessions was when two of the eldest community members who planted with us were conversing after planting their trees. One kupuna said to the other, “When we were younger it was cane being planted in these ʻāina. We not planting cane anymore. Now we planting ʻulu’.” These two kūpuna, both elderly Hawaiian women who were born and raised here in Hāmākua, worked for the sugar plantation in their younger years. At 85 years of age, they had witnessed the transformation of these ʻāina for abudant ʻōiwi (native) foodscapes, to sugar cane fields, to eucalyptus stands. Now, to be able to have them plant some of the first ʻulu in these ʻāina in over a century was a special moment of healing and regeneration for our community.