USDA certified organic farm community grows under the rainbow

Imagine a place where the community reflects what is important and precious in each member. Imagine a place where the meaningful work that each individual contributes to the community is healing and inspirational. La‘a Kea Farm on Baldwin Avenue in Pa‘ia is that place. Sitting on 12 acres overlooking the ocean, with double rainbows and majestic white clouds, the farm inspires residents and visitors alike. Founded in June 2000, La‘a Kea, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, provides day and residential programs for youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is the first of its kind in the State of Hawai‘i.

“Our mission is to create wholeness through education and therapy in extended family living,” said La‘a Kea Executive Director Andrea Hall Rodgers. “Being part of a thriving ‘ohana enables the members to fully unfold their potential and inspire each other. La‘a Kea’s programs include farming, economic ventures and the activities of daily living that come alive in a community with homes, farm buildings, a farmers’ market, cafe, craft studio and more,” said Rodgers. Inspired by the internationally known Camphill Village model, La‘a Kea offers a unique alternative to conventional care. Co-workers, residents and day program participants, regardless of their ability or disability, work in a supportive environment. They are all dedicated to discovering and enhancing the contribution of each individual through productive work.

In 2005, Rodgers presented the La‘a Kea project to Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa. “It is an exceptional model of organic farming and equitable community living designed specifically for the special-needs community,” she told the mayor. Recognizing the critical need for a community serving one of our most overlooked populations, Mayor Arakawa arranged the first long-term lease ever given to a nonprofit in the history of Maui County.

“During my first administration we realized there was a gap of service when it came to assisting adults, over 18 years old, with physical and mental challenges,” said the mayor. “I am very happy we have programs like La‘a Kea and others that care for our most vulnerable island residents.”

La‘a Kea Farm is an exceptional model of organic farming and equitable community living designed specifically for the special-needs community.

Everyone is invited to the 5th annual La‘a Kea Farm Fall Family Festival and Pie Contest on Sunday, November 15th, 2015 from noon to 4 pm. The event includes food and fun for the entire family with live music, tractor rides, silent auction and more.

Andrea Hall Rodgers, La‘a Kea Executive Director

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