Kipahulu Valley Community Development

Chuck Estin

Kipahulu Valley Community Development Project addresses challenges in a Maui coastal village involving a several thousand acre landscape by providing integrated agricultural economic retrofit and outreach via a school, a farm labor cooperative, and a local complimentary currency.

The purpose of this project is to develop a more cohesive Kipahulu Valley Community, with greater cooperation among the residents, increased food security, economic self-sufficiency, and opportunities for multi-generations of people to settle and work in the area without the need to buy land.

Kumu Aina Permaculture is designing and leading this Community Development Project by addressing five basic elements as detailed in the “Plan”: Labor, Land, Capital, Business, and Currency via the linking and relationship-building of a decentralized Permaculture School model. Our challenge is to design a system that meets the needs of the diverse landowners and residents in mutually satisfactory ways.

Chuck Estin has been consulting and teaching permaculture since 2005, moving from Bainbridge Island to Maui in 2013.  He started Kumu Aina Permaculture School, a decentralized program with students at different farms in Kipahulu Valley.

Team Bio

• Chuck Estin spent his first 25 years as a biomedical research scientist, a high school science teacher, and an educational change consultant. In 2005, he founded Bios Design – an edible landscape design and installation company on Bainbridge Island, WA. This also led to teaching permaculture. He relocated to Kauai in 2013 where he managed a permaculture and market garden farm and consulted in tropical systems. In 2017 he moved to a permaculture community in rural Kipahulu Valley, Maui to become the resident permaculture teacher/designer. supervising apprentices to create gardens for production vegetables and subsistence crops, food forests, and other projects. A year ago, Chuck started Kumu Aina Permaculture School, a decentralized program with students at different farms in the Valley. Student projects include a food forest at a neighboring property, a commercial greenhouse, and a market garden at a neighboring farm preparing to sell produce at a newly opening Farmers Market in February. His vision is of a collaborative community village in Kipahulu Valley. The school website is .

• Anatole North is a permaculture farmer, builder, and craftsman. He built Lokahi’s open-air octagonal maloka, and developed a 2-acre homestead at the nearby Kalepa land project, with terraced earthworks, a food forest, and hand-crafted structures. He is building advisor for the school.

• Cliff DeBenedetto is a Lokahi resident and Kumu Aina support staff. Cliff manages coconuts and harvests fruit from Valley residents, developing a “Kipahulu Food Coop” food hub, building toward a gift economy that is our ultimate goal.

• Erin Lindbergh is the granddaughter of Charles Lindbergh, and a long-term Kipahulu Valley resident. She is also Executive Board member of the Kipahulu Community Association and the Aina ‘O Kipahulu Water Board, which meet at Palapala Ho’omau Church, site of Charles Lindbergh’s grave, which Erin stewards.

• Sam Akoi IV is an avid practitioner of traditional Hawaiian arts from mauka to makai: a paniolo, farmer, hunter, gatherer, and fisherman. Board member of Ke Ao Hali’i, which protects and preserves the natural and cultural resources of the Hāna moku and the customary and traditional practices of Native Hawaiians of the region, he is also board member of the Kipahulu Community Association, President of the Wai Hui Kipahulu water system, leads the Aha Moku for Hana District, and supports the Kipahulu ‘Ohana and the Lawful Hawaiian Government.

• Scott Crawford works with local nonprofits on cultural traditions, environmental sustainability, and land and coastal conservation and management. He is Executive Director for the Kipahulu Ohana, which manages Kapahu Living Farm, a traditional wetland taro farm in Haleakala National Park, and also Secretary for the Hana Chapter of the Hawaii Farmers Union, and Chair of Ke Ao Hali’i, a Hana land conservation organization.

• Stephan Reeves is a long-term Hawaiian tropical plant horticulture specialist and permaculturist. He lives and manages one of the most diverse permaculture tree crop farms in Hawaii. As a consultant for nursery stock propagation, he is an important source for plant varieties.

• Uncle John and Auntie Tweetie Lind are co-founders of the local organization, Kīpahulu ‘Ohana. John is a traditional konohiki of the Kīpahulu moku, and he manages Kapahu Living Farm, overseeing all the lands and projects of the Kipahulu Ohana.

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