This month we’re featuring one of O‘ahu’s premier, organically certified aquaponic farms – Mari’s Gardens. Back in August, three of our team members visited the farm in Mililani (Central O‘ahu) to familiarize ourselves with the farm and meet a couple of the farmers, as well as Chef Elmer Guzman (owner of Poke Stop), who helped us create a custom variation of his Farm-to-Fork Experience at the farm. What we discovered continues to surprise us!
Mari’s Gardens is named after the owner’s daughter, Mari, and is tucked away in a residential area in Mililani. Upon arrival, it was crazy to think that these gardens, in the middle of a neighborhood, could be the biggest aquaponic farm in the State… But that thought soon evaporated once our tour of the farm began. The owner’s son began with an explanation of how aquaponics works and a summary of the different produce grown on their land and the protein raised. From there, we embarked on our private tour and were brought to different greenhouses that showcased their complex aquaponics circuitry.
We’ve come this far but still haven’t quite explained what aquaponics means. For those of you who are interested; aquaponics is a system that combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). This system benefits both the animals and the plants, by removing the excretions of the animals and converting it into nitrates and nitrites, which are then used by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture, and the system repeats. It is an incredibly sustainable, and laborious, way to grow produce.
Once the tour of the farm was finished, we explored the area where our guests would be able to enjoy a private Farm-to-Fork Experience in a beautiful garden setting. Chef Elmer utilizes the produce and protein from the farm to create a four course meal with a special, additional fifth course exclusive for Luxe Travel Hawai’i guests. Luxe will also incorporate a sommelier to showcase perfectly paired wines which highlight the freshness of Chef Elmer’s cuisine.
Sure, you could visit a local grocery store or farmer’s market and find this farm’s produce, but seeing their intricate system and understanding how they grow their plants is an experience in itself. Making a trip up to Mari’s Gardens is well-worth the knowledge you gain, as well as the food you consume during a “Dinner in the Garden!”
Special thanks to the team at Mari’s Gardens for accommodating us and sharing their farm with us! We can’t wait to visit again.