Sweet Potatoes from Ocean Vodka’s Organic Farm Serve as Nourishment and Lesson in Sustainability as Navigators Embark on their Hōkūle‘a Voyage Around the World
Four hundred pounds of sweet potatoes have been growing in the organic soils of Ocean Vodka’s Farm in Kula since July of 2013, getting ready to make a journey around the world with the crew of the Hōkūle‘a. The crew, family, and friends of the Hōkūle‘a came together on Mother’s Day for harvest, celebrating the original mother canoes, Wa’a Makuahine, that brought the Polynesians to the Hawaiian Islands. The crop will be used as food and also in research on hydroponic farming and other methods of continuous on-vessel farming that could support the crew as they traverse the globe.
Malama Honua, the worldwide voyage of the Hōkūle‘a, is scheduled to begin on May 24, making the first official leg of its journey from Hilo to Tahiti. The Hōkūle‘a is unique in that it operates using traditional Polynesian navigation techniques, with sails and by the stars and elements, without modern navigational instruments. On Sunday, May 18, the Hōkūle‘a will arrive in Lahaina on its way to Hilo to prepare for the scheduled departure on May 24 for the first leg of the voyage. 100 pounds of sweet potato will be prepared to nourish the crew in celebration. 100 pounds will then be used during the bon voyage ceremony in Hilo starting when the Hōkūle‘a arrives on May 20 and leading up to the departure for the first leg of its journey on May 24. The remaining 200 pounds of sweet potato will be used as nourishment and research for the crew as they sail the first leg from Hilo to Tahiti.
Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia, the Polynesian voyaging canoes, are sailing across Earth’s oceans to join and grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world. Covering 47,000 nautical miles, 85 ports, and 26 countries, the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage will highlight diverse cultural and natural treasures and the importance of working together to protect them.
The variety of sweet potatoes is “piko,” which translates to the center. “Piko is the starting point where we thrive. It is at this core spot that one is re-energized so that you can then go out into the world and offer your gifts,” says group leader Kealoha Hoe. “The potatoes and other sources of food serve as physical and spiritual nourishment on our journey, a tie to the Gods that incorporates mana and spirit.”
The Hawaiian name for this voyage, Mālama Honua, means “to care for our Earth.” Living on an island chain teaches that the natural world is a gift with limits to be carefully stewarded. In efforts to protect cultural and environmental resources for the future, the Pacific voyaging traditions teach to venture beyond the horizon to connect and learn with others. The Worldwide Voyage is a means by which all of Island Earth is engaged — practicing how to live sustainably, while sharing, learning, creating global relationships, and discovering the wonders of the planet.
It is the goal of the more than three hundred crewmembers involved in Malama Honua to be good stewards in every phase of the journey, practicing with humbleness and an honor for the right to travel; being listeners and vessels of information. “We are stewards of ocean, and of land. By growing the sweet potato, the Ocean Vodka family is practicing our stewardship,” says Hōkūle‘a crewmember and Ocean Vodka longtime employee C.J. Elizares. “We are all just stewards of our time, taking care of the earth and culture in this time period…serving as models for the next generation.”
Mary Anna Enriquez, 8th Grade teacher at Sacred Hearts Elementary School in Lahaina, is a crewmember on Hui o Waʻa Kaulua and will be following the worldwide voyage, using curriculum to teach her classes about sustainability and navigation.
Timmy Gilliom (captain), Paʻanaʻakalā Babayan (apprentice navigator, going on first leg of Malama Honua to Tahiti), C.J. Elizares
Representing Hui o Waʻa Kaulua:
Kimokeo Kapahulehua (President) and crew
Friends of Moʻokiha o Piʻilani
Hōkūleʻa is a performance-accurate full-scale replica of a waʻa kaulua, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe. Launched on 8 March 1975 by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, she is best known for her 1976 Hawaiʻi to Tahiti voyage performed with Polynesian navigation techniques, without modern navigational instruments. The primary goal of the voyage was to further support the anthropological theory of the Asiatic origin of native Oceanic people, of Polynesians and Hawaiians in particular, as the result of purposeful trips through the Pacific, as opposed to passive drifting on currents, or sailing from the Americas.
Since the 1976 voyage to Tahiti and back, Hōkūle‘a has completed nine voyages to Micronesia, Polynesia, Japan, Canada, and the United States, all using ancient wayfinding techniques of celestial navigation. Her last completed voyage began 19 January 2007, when Hōkūle‘a left Hawaiʻi with the voyaging canoe Alingano Maisu on a voyage through Micronesia and ports in southern Japan. The voyage was expected to take five months. On 9 June 2007, Hōkūle‘a completed the “One Ocean, One People” voyage to Yokohama, Japan. On April 5, 2009, Hōkūle‘a returned to Honolulu following a round-trip training sail to Palmyra Atoll, undertaken to develop skills of potential crewmembers for Hōkūle‘a’s eventual circumnavigation of the earth, currently planned to commence in 2013.
When not on a voyage, Hōkūle‘a is moored at the Marine Education Training Center (METC) of Honolulu Community College in Honolulu Harbor.
About Ocean Vodka
Ocean Vodka is 100% certified USDA Organic, gluten-free and the only vodka in the world made from organic sugar cane and deep ocean mineral water, sourced from a depth of 3,000 feet off the Kona Coast of the Island of Hawaii. The trace minerals, including potassium, magnesium and calcium, help create a distinct and pleasant flavor profile that is unlike any other vodka. Long inspired by the ocean paradise of Hawaii, the mission of Ocean Vodka is to create a superior organic, value-added agricultural product from Hawaii that supports the local economy, competes globally based on quality and raises awareness for the conservation of the ocean. The Ocean Vodka Organic Farm and Distillery in Kula, Maui highlights the company’s commitment to socially and environmentally conscious business practices, utilizing solar panels to power 100% of the operations and sustainably farming and harvesting organic sugar cane. Tours run seven days a week and educate guests about the importance of organic farming for the conservation of land and ocean, sustainable manufacturing and the production of spirits. Ocean Vodka has been the exclusive vodka on Hawaiian Airlines since 2007, and is the number one selling spirit made in Hawaii. Ocean Vodka is sold in 36 states and Canada and is sold at $32.99/750ml. Produced by Hawai‘i Sea Spirits, Kula, Maui, Hawai‘i 40% ALC/VOL (80 Proof).