Napili Flo Farm entrepreneur earns national recognition
NAPILI – Monica Cajudoy Bogar is a master kimchi artisan; it’s in her blood.
The founder of Napili Flo Farm in 2011, the 40-year-old recently captured national honors at the 2020 Good Foods Awards in San Francisco. She earned first place in two categories for her Pineapple-Ginger-Tumeric Sauerkraut and Gut Shots, a probiotic elixir made from bold, savory kimchi brine.
Her bottled Napa Kimchi is an award-winner as well and a favored Made on Maui product across the state and the continental United States.
Kimchi is a Korean soul food, a tradition dating back as far as the Three Kingdoms of Korea (37 BCE 7 CE).
It’s a cabbage side dish, blended with salted and fermented vegetables, creating a delicate balance of five flavors: bitter, sour, salty, sweet and spicy.
Her mom and her aunt were her teachers.
“I was always intrigued with making kimchi,” Monica recalled. “We would go to my aunt’s house in Kihei. Their thing was to make kimchi from all my aunt’s homegrown and my mom’s homegrown. They would sit on the floor all night, and they would make kimchi – prepping, washing, harvesting; it was just a thing.”
She is proud of her heritage.
“My first memory is wanting to help with those bowls of cabbage everywhere, so they would let me spread the salt! It’s amazing to honor their legacy and continue my family’s entrepreneurial spirit by bringing these products to market.”
At Napili Flo Farm, she has honed her skills and fed her spirit, creating a Korean power food perfect for the 21st century community.
She’s a bonified kimchi conjurer of the “Nth” degree.
“My signature Napa Cabbage Kimchi evolved from my spiritual journey to only feed myself with the best ingredients available. The biggest difference about my kimchi is that it is vegan. I’m proud to offer a healthy product that everyone can consciously eat!”
She believes, “the healthiest foods we consume are those with the highest vibrations. This means sourcing the best organic ingredients first.”
She explained her philosophy: “We’re all made of vibrations and energy, and the way our food is being manufactured – without hands on it, with machines – you’re not feeding your soul.”
“For example,” she continued, “I researched and found chili peppers manufactured and grown in Korea, not China. I use Himalayan sea salt. Another difference is using glass jars, not plastic; I wanted it to be in a safer, more Earth-friendly container. My kimchi is made in more intimate small batches, unlike the traditional way of making it in bulk.”
“I can tell you where the cabbage comes from in every batch that I make.”
“When I talk about high foods,” Monica continued, “I am talking about slow-producing foods – the farms that actually make their own seeds, and take that seed and replant it – go out in their fields and water it every day. They’re feeding that plant with good energy and love.”
“I am producing these products all by hand; no machine is ever in my kitchen. It is me and my knife cutting each piece of cabbage, bottling and labeling everything by hand. It’s made old school, hand-crafted fully and mindfully with good intentions.”
Napili Flo Farm is located in her back yard, and she is sharing her knowledge with the students at Maui Preparatory Academy. She is also a mentor with the Maui Farm Apprentice Program.
“What I am teaching on my farm is my farming technique,” she advised. “I am teaching how to farm in small spaces, utilizing vertical gardening, composting, aquaponics and regenerative farming practices.”
Monica’s passion goes deeper; her message is universal.
“I feel like people need to know more about their gut health and how that health is tied to their moods and mental health. Food and nutrition all start off with everything we put in our mouth, and it all goes into your digestive system. And if your digestive system is impacted by years of abuse (of fast foods and sugar), you will not be a balanced person.
“Our gut is our second brain,” Monica added.
She took her reasoning one step further: “Probiotic and fermented food has proven to help us now. I feel like a lot of the same ways and practices that I treat with my soil and farming is the same that we need to start doing with our gut.”
“Building our microbiomes within our own ecosystem, within our own digestive system, is important, so that we can properly take nutrition and eliminate waste.
“One of my biggest passions is to take care of my community and make sure everybody is eating well and their moods are great, because that makes a better environment for all of us.”
Monica has an eye on our future, as well.
“My ultimate goal, my bigger picture, is to help others start up their own businesses, create their own businesses and become self-sustaining without having to depend so much on tourism.
“We’ve brought back the victory gardens and the mom and pops. I think we have a standing chance in changing our food system.”
Wailani Artates is the owner/creative director of Artistry8. She met Monica teaching a branding/packaging class for the MFIX, Maui Food Industry Accelerator Program.
“She reached out to me to refresh her brand for her bottled kimchi. Her ideas were wild and bold, just like her personality. I love her free spirit and optimism, and it definitely inspired my creative direction for her brand,” Artates said.
Artates won a Pele Silver Award for the packaging design for Napili Flo Farm Kimchi in 2019. A few weeks ago, Artates and Bogar launched the napiliflofarm.com website.
“We now are offering our kimchi all over the nation online,” Bogar boasted.