Leo Nani Farms, The Beautiful Singing Farms, growing and sharing food in combination with growing and sharing the arts in community.
Cultivating the Arts Through Farming.
Leo Nani Farms is located on the Hamakua Coast, Hawaii island. We are the southernmost island in the Hawaii Island chain. The newest island with a live volcano on Kilauea Mountain. The newness of this land, the lava in the soil, the very awake feeling of this big diverse island is compelling enough to attract small organic farms that make it a bread basket for the whole state. Because we are an island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is vital that we are sustainable.
First we needed to develop this weedy sugarcane field that we bought in late 2008 by mowing, mulching and amending the soil. All efforts were devoted to the land and listening to what was needed to restore this beautiful 9 acres from 50 years of monocropping. Permaculture practices and regenerative local organic ideas guide us.
There are three of us managing the farm since our arrival January 1, 2009: Rhiannon, singer, teacher, co-owner and farm worker; Jan Watson, art photographer, co-owner and farm manager; and Floyd Bucklin, master builder and inventor.
We thrive with the help of WWOOF (World Wide Opportunity on Organic Farms—an international organization to connect organic farmers with people wanting to learn more about farming principles, crops and farm animals). Currently we have three WWOOF staff who have been here up to four years. We have found that this extended stay allows for more learning, a feeling of family (ohana) and much more work getting done on the farm.
We sell produce in Hawaii and to the Mainland US and beyond from one hundred cacao trees, two hundred tea (camellia sinensis) plants, vast quantities of olena (turmeric) in three varieties with up to 10% curcumin, lilikoi arbors with three varieties (passion fruit) and two hundred white pineapples.
We also created a large green garden with kales, broccoli, tat soi, cabbage, tomatoes, daikon, Hawaiian purple sweet potato and kobocha squash as well as many types of local fruits around the land; banana and coconut palms, avocados, lemon, orange, lime, tangerine, star fruit, papaya, ulu (breadfruit), soursop and coffee for our own use and to trade and share. We grow lettuces and plant starts from seed in the barn nursery. We are currently planting a heart garden in the German berm style, hugelkultur, where we will grow kitchen herbs, basil, flowers and lavender. Ten chickens and nine ducks provide eggs and manuring in the pasture. We are currently not raising steers but are looking at two baby female goats for grass mowing and rock climbing joy.
Floyd built a barn, extended greenhouse and nursery, a 12 x 16 guest house (hale), two WWOOF hales with outdoor bathhouse, as well as adding to our main hale a covered porch (lanai) with a full kitchen and dining area where we can process our crops and invite guests, students and workers to share meals as well as creating a series of farm to table events.
In order to actualize our vision of combining the arts with farming we built a 1000 square foot teaching and performance studio, Ha Lau Leo Nani (teaching center at Leo Nani Farms). Rhiannon can base her world wide vocal improvisation work on the farm as well as inviting other guest teachers working in the arts, sustainable farming techniques and healing modalities to share their work and discoveries. Janne has a studio there as well where her photographic archives are housed. We added a catchment tank, bathroom, filters for drinking water and solar for the whole studio. We are totally off grid up there. We have been in active operation since 2017 offering three week long workshops each year that bring singers from around the world, and twice a month Circle Singing events for the local community.
Here is our story in pictures. The Singing Barn, our farm crops and wonderful collaborators!