WEST MAUI - Meet James Simpliciano. He has taken the initiative to start using small parcels of land to grow fresh produce to supply the growing demand for fresh Maui produce.
I met up with James at the Launiupoko Farmers' Market. He was one of the vendors that show up on Saturday mornings at the bottom of Launiupoko. Naomi and Patrick Guth have been consistently managing the market - a great little farmers' market to grab homemade goodies and fresh veggies.
In a reciprocation of farming smaller parcels of land from private owners of two- to ten-acre lots, he grows veggies that appear in many of the fine restaurants and farmers' markets here in West Maui.
When asked what he grows, James likes to stick to the basic, everyday easy crops like eggplant, beans, heirloom tomatoes, beets, chard, kale, kabocha pumpkins, jicama and herbs like basil, cilantro and mint.
Other small farms produce asparagus, ferns, taro, sweet potatoes, garlic, onion, Jerusalem artichokes, horseradish, radishes, carrots, bananas, citrus and papayas.
James puts forth his passion and love for farming and combines it with his enthusiasm for sharing this knowledge of ways to prepare and use herbs or veggies. I love to meet up with James at the Launiupoko Farmers' Market. He always has little unusual treasures to share. Some weeks, it may be little poha berries, fresh nutmeg or cocoa plantings. As a lead cook in The Westin Maui Banquets, he brings this knowledge of cooking and products to share uses with the public.
Many local restaurants looking to present the very freshest of ingredients support these local farmers.
When asked, James noted, "I donate more than I sell, but restaurants that support me are Honu and Mala, I'o, Pacific'o, Hula Grill, Merriman's, Roy's, Pineapple Grill, Honokowai Farmers' Market, Launiupoko Farmers' Market and Chef Isaac Bancaco of the Grand Wailea's Humuhumunukunuku Restaurant."
Being part of the West Maui Food Revolution Community Group (Jamie Oliver's campaign), James is trying to bring awareness of the importance of a plant-based diet. Check it out at Kupumanui.com.
James' philosophy says it all: "I give more to friends, family, those who need it most. I found my passion is growing, sharing and giving back."
You can contact James via Twitter @kimosimpliciano or on his website at Simpli-fresh.com. His business is Pa'ina 'Aina Farms: Your local source. Forager of organic produce.
Here is hoping with folks like James, the small farms here in West Maui can continue to grow, thrive and help to support our growing community.