The Upcountry Farmers Market ‘Ohana donated $75,042.36 to La‘akea, a therapeutic life-sharing community that includes intellectually and developmentally disabled youth and adults. The donation was received during a May 23 ceremony at La‘akea’s Baldwin Avenue campus.
In August of 2017, La‘akea participants and their mentors were invited to join a program at the Upcountry Farmers Market where farmers donate fresh greens and other goods to be taken to the Country Store at La‘akea. The food from the store feeds into the campus kitchen and communal home.
The program fits with the La‘akea community’s dedication to discovering, supporting, and enhancing the contribution of each individual through meaningful opportunities and productive work. Executive Director Andrea Hall Rodgers said that how local organizations support each other is something that makes Maui a special place. “We are so grateful to the Upcountry Farmers Market ‘Ohana for their tremendous support,” Rodgers said. “There are so many exciting projects going on at La‘akea and this gift helps us get things done much quicker.” Rodgers said the whole La‘akea community benefits from the generosity.
The relationships between the farmers and La‘akea have grown beyond the food program. The growers actively support La‘akea friends in their life endeavors, such as participating in Special Olympics, getting a job and other milestones in their lives.
On Saturdays, the La‘akea crew is often spotted cruising around with their little red wagon, greeting the farmers and patrons. The Upcountry Farmers Market manager Neil Coshever said there’s a symbiosis created as the participants from La‘akea receive excess produce at the end of the day and bring a lot of good-hearted joy to the market.
Photo courtesy of La‘akea