In the native Hawaiian culture, sustainability and taking care of the land is not just a job – it’s a way of life. For the kanaka maoli, they believe in holding true to the traditional knowledge of farming and cultivating the land, not only to sustain the body, but to provide lessons for the future of sustainability.
In ancient times, land was divided by the ahupua`a system which divided a section of land from the top of the mountains out into the ocean. Within each ahupua`a Hawaiian communities developed and managed the land. The native Hawaiians always emphasized the importance of Mālama ka ʻĀina or taking care of, respecting and living in harmony with the land because it will sustain life. They focused on everyone in the community doing their share and using only what they needed. Farming is a way for the Hawaiians to feel connected to the land as well as their ancestors.
Next time you are visiting Hawai‘i, remember those who lived on the land you walk on and their progressive outlook on sustainability. The Hawaiian way of farming can offer us all valuable lessons in sustainability and taking care of the land — using only what is necessary and always contributing when you can.