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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Alii Kula Lavender Farm

While in Maui we had the pleasure of spending time with Alii Chang, farmer and owner of Alii Kula Lavender Farm. Located on the slopes of Mount Haleakala this beautiful farm overlooks the valley of central Maui.  On 13.5 acres their are 45 varieties of over 55,000 lavender plants.
While lavender is not a native species to Hawaii, the cool and dry climate, and rich volcanic soil create an optimal environment for it to grow. And yes, I did say "cool climate." Maui sustains a fascinating number of microclimates, and it happens that in lavender country, temperatures can go down to the 40s at night.

Alii decided to purchase the farm in Kula which was formally owned by Dr. Phillip Parvin from the University of Hawaii in the 1970s. Parvin planted Protea plants, which originated from South Africa because it was a drought tolerant plant. The Kula farm has very little rain, averaging at about an annual rainfall of less than 25 inches.


Protea in a bouquet.
After purchasing his first 5.5 acres in January 1990, Alii needed to find a drought tolerant plant that would flourish in chronic conditions. That’s when he researched Lavendula, a website that specializes in lavender, and opened his insight to the beautiful herb.  After dividing the farm into parcels, he obtained lavender starts from a propagator in Oregon and got to work.

He first named his farm Nanea a‘o Kula which means “Relaxed in Kula.” But after partnering up with Lani Weigert, the farm became Ali‘i Kula Lavender which references the farm’s founder, and to the royal connections of the purple-flowered plant.

Information booth

Seven varieties bloom year round.

Unlike our spring planting, lavender can be planted any time of the year in Hawaii.

Weddings are held overlooking this beautiful field of lavender.  Such a pretty sight.

After our tour of the gardens we enjoy lavender tea and scones and discussed his lavender products.
The impressive number of products is made possible by partnerships with more than 25 local businesses like Ono Gelato (responsible for lavender chocolate gelato), Kauai Kookie Kompany (producer of the delectable lavender shortbread cookies), The Hawaiian Fudge Sauce Company (lavender fudge sauce), Big Island Candies (lavender brownies and chocolate truffles), and so on…

“It is our social responsibility to take care of our communities and offer an experience that allows people to ‘reconnect’ to the land, to each other, and to themselves,” says Chang. “We try to create opportunities for ‘togetherness’.”
It is this spirit of togetherness, collaboration, community that makes this lavender farm up in the mountains truly special.

We continue to learn the many ways of growing lavender.
We want to thank Alii for spending the day with us.  It was a wonderful visit, one we will not forget.

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