Chuck and Lilly Boerner revel in the place they’ve called home since 1972. And can you blame them?
Up on top of a mountain in the village of Kipahulu, the blue Pacific spread out before them, and all around, a garden of Eden: hundreds of fruit trees they harvest organically and a house and farm completely off the grid. They both had bare feet and glowed with a healthy radiance.
The couple, with two of their children and their spouses, run Ono Organic Farms, supplying dozens of varieties of fresh tropical fruits, coffee, cacao and nuts to customers as far away as Germany. The Maui Whole Foods is an eager customer, as are grocery stores in Honolulu and others throughout Maui and the islands.
That twinkle in their eyes must come from all of this healthy living—they can reach out and pick such incredible bounty from the land that’s been in the family for generations. Papaya, brilliant orange (and a rare because it’s not genetically modified), apple bananas their number one crop, star fruit, peanut butter fruit, even the stinky durian grows well in their 70 cultivated acres.
They gave us a fruit tasting and there we were joined by an Indiana woman who loves that famously stinky spiky durian. She was about to taste a fresh hunk of it for the first time. She got the biggest piece and then arranged to have more sent to her on the mainland.
Chuck and Lilly are warm and relaxed as they slice the fruits from their land that they’ve turned into a thriving business. Five years ago, up here in this remote area ten miles out of Hana, they had no power, so they lived with candles and few modern conveniences. “I got a dryer and a dishwasher for the first time after we installed the solar system,” Lilly said. They store 40,000 gallons of water in tanks.
They have an active internship program for young people who live on the farm and are eager to learn how they grow food organically. “Young people are very into coming here and learning, “ she said.
“If you go to the store and buy a $4 organic fruit you’re doing your part, you’re helping spread the word and you’re part of the solution,” Lilly said. “It all adds up!”
She said that when guests come up to the farm and taste these fruits, it brings back fond memories of when they were young. “Coming here makes people feel like home, and when they were kids.” More mango please!