For the past 30 years, Maui resident Louis Coulombe has built a reputation for Lahaina’s beachfront restaurant, Pacific’o on the Beach. While there are no words for the amount of loss and tragedy that continues to unfold in Lahaina, few people on island are aware of Coulombe’s crop-diversified, sustainable O’o Farm. Offering meals prepared on-site by the farm chef along with daily farm tours at 3,500 feet above sea level, O’o Farm’s 8.5 acres are situated on pristine Kula land, sustainably maintained and naturally cultivated with a no-till approach. In 2000, surfing buddies turned successful restaurateurs, Coulombe and Stephan Bel-Robert purchased the upcountry land that had only a citrus orchard and a few coffee trees. Today, O’o Farm includes Hawaiian coffee and fruit trees, rows of lettuce and garden vegetables, and green houses with flavorful tomatoes, herbs, flowers, a gift shop, and more.
“To grow locally on an island is one of the most sustainable things you can do,” said Coulombe. “If you operate a restaurant and can recycle food waste in the farm compost—even better. If you can follow crop diversification and organic methods—even better. If you can share what you do with the community and visitors, I think it contributes to the sustainable front.”
During the covid pandemic, and recently the Maui wildfires, community members picked up boxes of produce from the farm. O’o Farm supplies Maui Food Bank, and numerous restaurants and chefs around the island. O’o Farm Chef and Farm Manager Daniel Eskelsen said, “It’s my joy to be able to pass along the fruits of our labor. We like to share our farming methods with our guests and explain how we grow, harvest, and roast coffee at the highest elevation in the state. Our guests also learn about how our free-range farm chickens help us remove invasive grass and fertilize along drip lines in the trees.”
Mainland tour and lunch participants Grant and Pat Lucas from Texas shared their O’o Farm experience. “The amount of knowledge and our freshest seed-to-cup and farm-to-table meal was unmatched. With the bi-coastal views and quiet charm of farm life, this was a priceless experience. We’ll be back!”
Here at O’o Farm and Pacific’o, students may apply for internships receiving full college credits. Volunteers who want to learn about sustainable farming should also contact us. Daniel Eskelsen, O’o Farm Chef and Farm Manager