Flower Power on Maui – Sunflowers Energize Maui Community

by Tania Harmon


Photo Credit: Pacific Biodiesel

Earlier this year I recall seeing a picture of State Representative Kaniela Ing posing in a newly planted field come across my Facebook feed. The post mentioned hemp and sunflowers as a possible agricultural alternative for renewable energy. I thought to myself, hey that would be cool if they could make it work on a large scale. I moved on to the next post without giving it much more thought.

“We just planted the first regenerative crops, sunflowers (with hemp coming soon), on old Maui sugarcane land! The end of the sugar era was met with a lot of fear, but Kelly King and Pacific Biodiesel saw an opportunity for positive change and unity. Uncle Alika Atay, Elle Cochran, and I are proud to share this vision of sustainable, natural agriculture, and a 100% renewable future for Hawai’i.  #forMauisFuture” (Photo Credit : Kaniela Ing’s Facebook Page)


That is until 2 months later when my Instagram feed turned bright yellow with images of anybody and everybody galloping through gorgeous fields of sunflowers. As the realization that the mountain scape in the background was the Wailuku hillside, it all came together. And for the first time I actually considered, perhaps this could be our future in Maui. Visions of yellow fields blanketing the Maui landscape as I peer out an airplane window upon landing came to mind – and it made me smile.

The endless, majestic green waves of sugarcane that once covered the island had started to disappear last year. With each return flight the sight of the expansive green that had become symbolic of a welcome home hug had slowly started to brown. And the wider the brown fields grew, the heavier my heart became. There is no doubt that the end of the sugarcane era was inevitable, but the uncertainty of what would replace the green blanket had been weighing heavy on many minds on this island. Perhaps sunflowers, synonymous with happy feelings of hope and renewal, are the perfect symbol for the next generation of crops on Maui. For a few weeks in April, Maui residents and tourists became euphoric with the sight of the sunflower field. So enamored at the sight in fact, the county had to post ‘No Parking’ signs along the sides of the road.  Sightseers were so distracted by the beauty they seemed to forget the fact that the parcel sits on the corner of two busy highways.

Hawaii’s Largest Biofuel Crop Project

It turns out that Pacific Biodiesel had planted just 14 acres, a small portion of the 115-acre sight reserved for this new project. The crop was perfectly timed to bloom in time for an Earth Day community celebration and the plan was PR gold. It’s all anyone talked about for weeks, but as it turns out, the date was actually selected to commemorate the one year anniversary of Pacific Biodiesel received the incredible honor of being named ‘The World’s First Biodiesel Producer Certified by the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance for Sustainable Production and Distribution Practices’. With a public commitment to research and utilize alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, to use non-GMO crops, local compost to replace fertilizer and crop rotation to reduce pests Pacific Biodiesel has quickly become a community favorite company.

Most people on Maui know Pacific Biodiesel is headquartered in Kahului and converts used cooking oil from restaurants into biodiesel which powers boats and cars in Maui. Some may even know the company was one of the first commercial biodiesel plants in the US and actually had the first retail biodiesel pump anywhere in the US. What people might be surprised to learn is that according to the company’s press release, the bulk of Pacific Biodiesel’s fuel is currently used for utility power generation – all while diverting 270 tons of trap grease from the Maui landfill each month. I had no idea!

Hawaii’s Green Energy Goals

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a partnership created in 2008 between the State of Hawaii and the US Department of Energy, set out to chart a path to energy independence in the Aloha state by 2045. In 2015, Hawaii generated more than 23% of our energy from renewable resources. With alternative options for the grid including solar and wind, biodiesel may be able to move into a ‘back up’ position (i.e. to be used to stabilize the grid when wind and solar outputs drop off). Pacific Biodiesel foresees the most valuable use of biodiesel in the future will be in heavy-duty transportation. And because biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine or turbine, the impact it can have on Maui as we aim for energy independence and less reliance on importing our food is enormous.

I think what excites me the most about this initiative is the company’s ‘Zero Waste Agriculture and Energy Model’. The crops can be used not only for fuel, but for food, fertilizer and as a chemical-free environment for honey bees to thrive and pollinate (vital to our local farms and flora). Additionally the company’s expansion plan to build new facilities on neighbor islands is forward thinking, reducing inter-island shipping, as well as expanding jobs throughout the state – better for our land, better for our ocean, better for our community.

Photo Credit: Pacific Biodiesel Facebook Page

The next crop is expected to bloom later this month. I look forward to seeing my social media feeds light up with bright beautiful yellow sunflowers.

For more information and to keep up-to-date with the company’s progress visit http://www.biodiesel.com/


Biodiesel is available at retail pumps on Oahu, the Big Island and on Maui at:

Pacific Biodiesel Pump located at 40 Hobron Ave. in Kahului and

Minit Stop Lahaina – Ohana Fuels located at 10 Kupuohi St. in Lahaina.





Posted on June 8, 2017 at 8:53 am
Tania Harmon | Category: Community, Maui Lifestyle, Nature, Things To Do On Maui | Tagged ,

MAUI CRAFT TOURS – Maui’s Guide to All Things Craft

by Tania Harmon


Maui Craft Tour HeaderPhoto Credit: Maui Craft Tours

Craft Beverages. Craft Beer. Craft Spirits. Have you ever wondered what makes a beverage ‘craft’? Often, when we hear the word craft we think in terms of what it is not: large, mass-produced, corporate. Yet some define craft in terms of what it is: independent, small production, using time-honored and traditional methods.  However you define it, there is no mistaking the fact that the craft beverage category is what’s hot and has created not only a following, but a culture of it’s own. Maui is no stranger to this growing phenomenon. Home to multiple breweries, distilleries and a winery, Maui’s craft beverage culture is one of its best kept secrets.

Maui Craft Tour Bus


Inspired by a desire to share the stories of local Maui purveyors and their relationships with agriculture, their craft and the local culinary culture, husband and wife team David and Carrie Adelmann, created Maui Craft Tours, the ultimate way to experience the craft food and beverage culture on Maui. Maui Craft Tours’ carefully curated day trips pair guests in small groups (no more than 13 guests per tour) with expert guides on a memorable journey through Maui’s craft culture scene. All-inclusive excursions include: behind-the-scenes, exclusive, brewery, distillery and winery tours; beer, wine and spirit tastings; farm-to-table, locally-crafted eats and the best part – someone else is driving!  Guests are offered a unique opportunity to meet a few of the local artisans who have pioneered Maui’s craft culture – Maui Wine, Maui Brewing Co., Hawaii Sea Spirits, Hali’imaile Distilling, The Mill House, Surfing Goat Dairy and Maui Gold Pineapple.

Maui Pineapple Tour

Photo Credit: Maui Pineapple Tours

All tours begin in Central Maui at Maui Tropical Plantation (as all days should) with a cup of The Mill House Roasting Café’s 100% Maui Grown Coffee fresh roasted by experienced hands. Also included with every tour: transportation to all destination sites; guided tours, tastings and gratuities for partner tour guides at each destination; a locally sourced, handcrafted lunch; Maui Craft Tours souvenir travel cup and tote bag. Maui Craft Tours currently offers 2 different tour options ranging from 6-7 hours in length with 2 more in the works scheduled to start late Spring 2017.

TASTE OF MAUI (6 hours) $189


A 30-minute tour providing an up-close glimpse of the Kihei brew house, cellar and packaging line, followed by a guided tasting of their flagship beers and souvenir gift to keep.

Beer on Maui - Maui Brewery

Photo Credit: Miles Kreisberg


A farm-to-table handmade lunch and tasting of their flagship goat cheeses


An in-depth look at the company’s Lower Kula organic farm, sustainable farming and distilling practices, bottling center, a tasting in the adjacent Martini Garden plus a visit to the gift shop to pick up your souvenir shot glass!


An exclusive look at grape growing and winemaking in Upcountry Maui with a walk through the historical winery grounds and cellar followed by a taste of some of MauiWine’s lovingly crafted wines in their tasting room, located in the iconic King’s Cottage.


Expanding on THE TASTE OF MAUI Tour this tour also offers


A private coffee seminar and pour-over tutorial hosted by this innovative team of coffee connoisseurs at The Mill House Coffee Roasting Company


Following lunch, a private tour of the Kula dairy from one of the farm’s expert tour guides where guests will meet and feed the happy goats and experience a taste of what it takes to raise these adorable animals, collect the milk and produce these lovingly-crafted, artisanal cheeses.


After the tour, guests participate in an intimate and casual tasting in the historic “Old Jail” where they are expertly guided through a selection of MauiWine’s small-production, single-varietal Ulupalakua Vineyards Estate Wines; including unreleased or back vintages.



A culinary dream day! The day starts with an exclusive coffee tour and tasting followed by in depth behind-the-scenes production tours expertly guided tastings at MauiWine, Ocean Vodka (Sundays) or Hali’imaile Distilling (Tuesdays) and Maui Brewing Co. Midway through the day, pause for a private family-style farm-to-table lunch in the heart of the beautiful winery grounds. For the Grand Finale, return to Maui Tropical Plantation where the team at The Mill House treats you to hand-selected pairings that perfectly represent their passion for all things craft.

The Mill House

FIELD TO GLASS (8.5 hours)

An opportunity to learn about the pineapple: the quintessential island fruit, its history on Maui, and how three local purveyors are using its unique juice. Follow the pineapple’s journey from the Hali’imaile Pineapple fields to MauiWine, Hali’imaile Distilling, and Maui Brewing Co. Along the way, learn how each of these artisans is turning pineapple in to unique island-inspired craft beverages. Guests enjoy a midday locally sourced lunch at the famous Hali’imaile General Store. Finally, reminisce on the day’s adventures over handcrafted drinks and pupus by The Mill House—a truly innovative farm-to-table dining experience. Delicious craft food and beverages fill this unforgettable full-day craft adventure!

All guests must be 21+ years of age to participate in tours. Private tours and gift cards available. Tours may also be upgraded to door-to-door service for an additional fee.

For more information email info@mauicrafttours.com or call 808.633.1801. Reservations can be made at www.mauicrafttours.com.

Posted on May 8, 2017 at 11:27 pm
Tania Harmon | Category: Maui Lifestyle, Things To Do On Maui, Where to Eat on Maui | Tagged