Wahine Voices in Agriculture – Kathy Maddux

In this video, Kathy Maddux speaks about her journey into farming. Starting with an interest in the 1960’s movement to live closer to the earth, to backyard gardening where she learned from other women in farming communities of the mid-west, to starting a garden at Kushi Institute in Boston where she trained to be a macrobiotic chef. In coming back to Hawai’i, she shares her experience of working with her friends to transform a field of California grass with no water source into a thriving organic farm that feeds Oahu’s North Shore community and has hosted hundreds of farm interns over the years. You can feel Kathy’s warmth and joy as she talks about her love of applying her skillset as a trained chef to prepare and share the healthy food she grows with her community.

As farmers, ranchers and agriculture enthusiasts, we all have our own journeys. As Kathy shares her story, she delves into hard topics she has experienced along the way, such as the need to price our produce to account for a living wage and the high prices of farming in Hawaii. She talks candidly about how farming is not easy and it is not cheap, from the cost of land, to the price of seeds and input. She shares her heart and wisdom as she calls for farmers, especially women, to ‘band together’. As she expresses, there is a tendency for farmers to get competitive with each other when everyone is selling the same type of produce, but she reminds us that it is easier for us to cooperate and support each other. When we see ourselves as part of a hui working towards greater goals, such as growing our local food system- we are better able to realize the value of our work. Farming can be lonely, but as she reminds us, we aren’t in this alone and we need to reach out to each other.