Life is Good – Waiahole Poi Factory & Farm – The Amazing Reppuns

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Waihole Poi Factory  & Farm – The Amazing Reppuns

No, they’re not a family of circus acrobats, but the Reppun boys (and one girl) are truly amazing. Descendants of Dr. Carl Reppun who, in the 1920s, emigrated from Russia to Kahalu’u, practiced medicine all over the island, operated on then Princess Kawananakoa’s son, David; traveled on horseback to practice also in Makapu’u to Kahuku as a government physician, sired three boys who had more boys… the Reppuns who remain on the windward side of Oahu to farm their taro are originals.  The 6 Reppun men include Paul (summa cum laude from Harvard with a couple of degrees that may include biology and Russian lit) who is interviewed in this video; and his brother, Charlie, who are taro farmers.  Tom is a doctor.  John is Executive Director of Kahalu’u Ecumenical Youth Project, instrumental in getting the windward side involved in anti-meth programs and public involvement.  Josh is one of the first educators I have ever known. He teaches at Hawaii School for Girls. David lives on the Big Island but I have not met him nor his sister Martha. Not to mention the next generation of Reppun children, one of whom is Fred, who grew up on his family’s taro farm in Waiahole, left to attend Harvard University, got a degree in Environmental Science and Public Policy, and returned to Hawaii to restore native ecosystems and re-building of ancient Hawaiian farms.

“You grow to eat first. You get surplus… you sell that.”  says Paul, with 7 acres, 9 major crops, 70 different types of edible foods.  Suited for wet land taro with 3 of 7 acres designated to dry land crops the Reppuns also grow trees for lumber used to make furniture, outrigger canoes, and “Mix it all up. That’s one of the tenets of farming”.

With 4 hydroelectric plants on the property this is how they derive their electricity that roasts coffee, runs the shop, powers their computers and the machinery used to make chocolate. Everything they do that requires electricity is “naturally” sourced, off the grid, on this family farm that produces 800 lbs of produce every week. And they manage this lifestyle in a cooperative atmosphere with family, friends, extended ohana, visiting scholars and school kids stopping in to help clean the loi or bag fruit.  Hard work and dedication to preserving the aina might be their mantra.  They are all highly educated but don’t just spout rhetoric. When the day is done I am sure the Reppuns of Waiahole, in spite of all the sweat and back breaking work it requires to perpetuate and sustain this lifestyle they have created, can all sit back with a sense of satisfaction most of us may never achieve, and sigh a big, “Life is Good”.

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