Here is our story in pictures. The Singing Barn, our farm crops and wonderful collaborators!
April 30, 2014
Leo Nani Farms, The Beautiful Singing Farms, received funding to further develop the arts aspects of our farm. We call ourselves farms in plural because we believe in the sustainability of our intersecting interests; growing and sharing food in combination with growing and sharing the arts in community. Our theme is Cultivating the Arts Through Farming.
1) 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 the 50 years of monocropping. Permaculture practices and sustainable local organic ideas guide us. One hundred cacao trees, two hundred and ten green tea (camellia sinensis) plants, a huge circle of olena (turmeric), and arbors with five varieties of passion fruit (lilikoi) have become our main crops. We also grow many types of local fruits and vegetables for our own use and to trade and share. Ten chickens and three ducks provide eggs and manuring in the pasture, and two beef cows that we buy locally and raise for two years are grassfed and butchered in our own pasture with an excellent team of local men continuing a Hawaiian tradition of animal husbandry from birth to beef all on our hill.
We built a barn, extended greenhouse and nursery and most recently a 12 x 16 guest house (hale) as well as adding to our house a covered porch (lanai) with a full outdoor 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.
With the Gratitude Fund from the East Bay Community Foundation, we built the guest hale and completed the purchase of appliances, counters and storage areas for the outdoor kitchen. We also re-fenced areas of the land to better use the pasture for the cows and plant a new food orchard of macadamia nut, star fruit and ulu (breadfruit) trees. plus new WWOOF cottage (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).
There are three of us living on 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.
2) Our goal for the coming year is to advance the arts on the farm now that crops are growing and coming to harvest. Critical to that goal is building a 1000 square foot teaching and performance studio. Rhiannon can then 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. We have already been approached with three projects that seem perfect in our community. We plan to build the studio in 2014 and begin those projects in the spring of 2015. Design, materials and fundraising are underway. We need a home for Jan’s photographic archives of her life’s work, current projects and the documentation showing the development of the farm. We plan to add a 12 x 16 room to the studio for this purpose.
3) Leo Nani Farms sold $1800 worth of beef, eggs, turmeric and lilikoi in 2013. The major funding comes from Rhiannon's teaching and performance work. This means intensive travel for her and in her absence, more labor and responsibility for Jan and Floyd on the farm. Time to bring Rhiannon's teaching home to the farm as she turns 70 in 2015. Non-residential teaching work and a small performance series at the Leo Nani studio is our goal.
To see more photos of the farm, please follow this link: http://rhiannonmusic.com/galleries/151893/spring-2014.