Lahaina Animal Farm: A vision come true
LAHAINA – Nestled in between the crystal clear ocean and sublime West Maui Mountains sits a most enchanting place. The beautiful Lahaina Animal Farm Guest Ranch and Petting Zoo, located ten minutes south of Lahaina, is in the exclusive Launiupoko neighborhood.
Featuring unobstructed panoramic views, stunning sunsets, animals frolicking in green pastures and a star-studded sky, it is sure to captivate the heart.
“When I bought this six-acre parcel in 2004, it was an abandoned, overgrown sugarcane and weed-infested land,” said owner Teresa Waters. “I had a vision to turn it into a guest ranch, and my goal was to do that in ten years. Here we are in 2014 and my vision has come true!”
Improving the neglected land was hard work. However, Waters saw it not as an obstacle but as a labor of love. Inspired by a book by Barbara Kingsolver, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” she was stirred to raise animals with love, grow food and bring the land to the working farm it is today.
“I read about the author’s family experiences as new farm owners and thought, ‘I’d love to try this.’ So, that’s how the organic gardening and petting zoo came to life,” she said.
As an environmentally conscious leader in the community, Waters applies many elements of Native Hawaiian culture and tradition on her ranch. Her mission is to raise awareness of heritage breeds, natural husbandry and the importance of sustainability.
“I see the farm as a complete living organism and strive to create a balance that generates health and fertility from inside the farm itself,” she said
“Preparations made from farm ingredients, including manure and medicinal herbs, are used to help restore and harmonize the nutrition and quality of the food and animals being raised.”
Visitors have a fun opportunity to feed and interact with the unique, friendly livestock and even the fish. The animals are not only adorable; they also aid in the land management and help fertilize the fields and gardens.
For example, the backwash water from the tilapia pond is redirected onto the vegetable garden. Not only does that mean the farm reuses water, but the rich nutrients aid the growth of the vegetables and herbs. Guests have the chance to taste some of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and natural honey from the farm’s eight beehives.
The property, a spectacular event location and vacation rental, provides a unique experience for visitors and kama’aina alike. Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 11 a.m., the farm is open for public tours. On Saturday and Sunday, it is available for private tours, parties and corporate events.
“Three times a year, everyone in the community is invited to come and see what we’re doing here – no admission fee required,” said Waters, who thinks that giving back to the public is very important.
Lahaina Animal Farm is a hands-on experience. You can feed and pet the animals, including goats, sheep, chickens and miniature horses, fish in the tilapia pond, go on a treasure hunt, give the pigs a bath, see where chickens lay their eggs, cheer on a tortoise race, ride a horse and other fun activities.
Waters and her staff greet visitors at a welcome station stocked with refreshing tropical juice and an introduction to the extraordinary tour.
“Our orientation is helpful in teaching children and adults to be aware of the animals and their surroundings,” Waters explained, adding that she offers special rates to Maui schools.
“This has made many keiki and teachers very happy, because we work within their budget,” she added.
“I brought my third-grade class on a field trip to the animal farm and they absolutely loved it,” said a teacher from Maui Preparatory Academy in Napili. “The hands-on experience enriches learning way beyond the classroom.”
For those looking for overnight accommodations, the Lahaina Animal Farm Guest Ranch house is a stunning three-bedroom home perched above the six-acre “slice of paradise.” Visitors marvel at the breathtaking views of the ocean, neighboring islands and the West Maui Mountains while dining on the long red eucalyptus farm tables adorned with fresh herb centerpieces.
The Lahaina Animal Farm Guest Ranch and Petting Zoo is available by appointment for group or private tours, event venue and farm-house vacation rentals. For more information, call Waters at (808) 280-2597, e-mail email@example.com or go to www.lahainaanimalfarm.com.