Maui’s first lavender farm, Ali’I Kula Lavender, is a sustainable work of art situated in the beautiful upcountry hills of the lush island.
Nestled into the hills of Kula in upcountry Maui sits Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, an impeccable canvas and feast for the eyes which functions as an herb farm, vegetable and flower garden, and serene sanctuary. With views over the Maalea Bay, this is the perfect place to relax away from the posh imitations of Hawai’i found at most beachside resorts. As a purveyor of Sustainable Aloha, Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is founded on love, friendship and responsibility, thus demonstrating the importance of our relationship with the land, our community and each other; and representing the legacy of one of Maui’s finest green thumbs.
Ali’i Chang established his Kula farm in 1999 after having owned a successful tropical flower farm on the rainier side of Maui. On his new land he first planted protea, or sugar bush, the South African flower that was known to thrive in the area, and soon began researching other plants that would thrive in the more arid, hilly landscapes. He was given a lavender plant by a friend in 2001, and thus discovered the perfect match for his Kula farm. As a drought resistant plant, lavender does not mind the average 25 inches of annual rainfall, and loves to bask in the full sun of the well-drained, south facing slopes of this Kula hillside.
This herb is in fact one of the most ideal plants for a sustainable and fairly low maintenance crop that provides an impressive yield. The plant needs very little watering, as it seeps in the moisture that often settles on the Kula hills in the late afternoon, and like most herbs, actually thrives in poorer soil. As a rather acidic plant, insects do not like to nibble on lavender, rendering sprays and fertilizers obsolete. As a native of Europe, lavender is also not subject to the gleaning eye of plant thieves, that were often after more colorful and exotic greenery. As the late Ali’i himself put it “I think the lavender chose me. Lavender won’t grow just anywhere. It happens that we’re right here under a lucky star.”
The nine varieties of this aromatic and therapeutic herb grown at the farm are turned into various delicious and healing products that are sold at the AKL’s gift shop, as well as online. These products are completely natural, using organic ingredients whenever possible. Some of their most rejuvenating and delectable products are listed below:
Soothing and enriching, this moisturizer acts as a natural insect repellant that quickly soothes dry skin and calms the nerves with subtle aromas of citronella and lavender. Non-greasy, and long lasting moisture make this a favorite among both men and women.
This amazingly soothing balm heals cracked or dry lips, and also acts as a sunscreen. Leaving lips feeling soft and smooth, the two flavors, Lavender Lemonade and Lavender Honey, blend pure lavender, essential oils and avocado and coconut oils into for totally pampered lips.
Treat yourself to a blissful exfoliation with AKL’s lavender honey scrub that heals and polishes your skin into a glowing, satiny smoothness. The natural, gentle and grease-free ingredients make this scrub ideal for the face and body.
Having a hard time sleeping or getting to a place of deep relaxation? Use this lavender eye mask, comprising solely of lavender buds, to relieve eye muscle stress, headaches or head tension, or to experience a deep, restful sleep. The soothing and calming qualities of lavender will relax and calm your senses.
Completely herbal, this caffeine-free tea is great for any season, as it tastes wonderful served hot or cold, especially with a wedge of lemon. Alongside its delicious flavor, this tea also aids blood circulation, digestion and encourages mental clarity and heightened memory.
Lilikoi, the Hawai’ian passion fruit grown in upcountry Maui, blends perfectly with lavender in this tangy and versatile spread. An exotic and unique topping for scones, bagels and breads, this jelly also lends itself well to marinades, grilling sauces and other savory dishes such as Avocados Stuffed with Shrimp.
Although lavender is the main crop at Ali’I Kula, it is certainly not the only plant gracing this carpet of botanical beauty. Ali’I took great pride on providing visitors with an ever-changing vista of wonders by planting flora that would thrive with the resources available in his hillsides and by including fascinating artifacts and collectibles from his travels amidst the landscape.
As a community and organization committed to Sustainable Aloha, Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is committed to nurturing the well-being of the local community and all of its living creatures for generations to come. The farm provides educational stewardship through a scholarship program, and supports the local economy through agri-tourism that demonstrates a sustainable way of gardening and living. Upon visiting, the spirit of Aloha can be felt from the smiles upon faces and through the cared for, but not overly manicured, gorgeous and peaceful grounds. Respect for the earth and the environment is evident and Ali’I Kula Lavender Farm, a paradise that truly nurtures and protects the land and its people.
Images: AKL Maui, Leena Oijala