Aukea Ka’aekuahiwi Expands his Swine Business and Utilizes Traditional Methods of Food Preservation

Aukea‘s dream is to expand his business, The Swine Project, through infrastructure development and create opportunities for youth to learn traditional methods of food preservation.

He will maximize profits through food efficiency and meat conservation saying, “I would like to bring local value-added products to our community like our ancestors did, such as Kalua Pork (cooked and steamed underground), Lau Lau (pork wrapped with taro leaves), and traditional smoked pork.

“This dream would be to help the youth in our community and give them access to the tools needed to further their dreams whether it is provide for their families, or to help others.”

Aukea’s Home and Community

Aukea has grown up in the community of Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii where most of his family lives within a five-mile radius of each other. “I guess you can say that our family is very close.”

Waimea is an agriculture-based town made up of farm and ranch land. “You were either ranching, farming, or, in my upbringing, both.”

Being Native Hawaiian gave his family the privilege getting Hawaiian Homes lands where they received a parcel to live on and another to raise animals and plants to provide money and food for the family.

“Hawaiian Homes will always be my home.”

What motivated Aukea to develop his dream?

“Our ancestors were agriculturists producing different types of products using the traditional methods that have been forgotten as time has gone on,” says Aukea.

He has heard tell of the large-scale farming operations his great-great-grandparents, great-grandparents and grandparents had for decades until their businesses dwindled due to a lack of interest in the succeeding generation and the inability to compete with the demands of increasing environmental regulations.

Raising three children as the sole provider, his mother taught him and his siblings to be independent and thrifty. “For example, our Swine Project has given us the opportunity to make money of our own, helped provide meat for our family and we do not need to ask for spending money for our wants like we would’ve in the past.”

About three years ago, Aukea had the opportunity to participate in a youth mentorship program offered by a local nonprofit organization which gave him the chance to learn and take part in agriculture production.

He was introduced to several types of agriculture including, Korean natural farming. “I find this program unique because it teaches us how to preserve our environment through a new wave in agriculture,” he told us.

His mentors were trained in South Korea using the natural elements around us to assist the plants and animal to produce at a higher level, he explained. “We are now able to make our own natural inputs, or fertilizers, save us about 70 percent of the cost and using 30 percent less water.

“It amazed me because I do believe that our Native Hawaiian ancestors practiced a healthier way of living, feeding ourselves, plants and animals using a similar method without any use of chemicals that could cause more harm than good to our bodies.”

The Dream as a Solution

For Aukea, his small business endeavor has done much for his family. “Since staring the Swine Project, I have noticed what it has done for my family and I: It has provided extra money for my brother and I; provided meat in our freezer; and recently we sold a pig to be used as a hot dish at a close friend’s wedding.

“Possibilities are endless. As the demand grows we feel we need to expand so that we will have hogs ready to market. Right now, I feel that in a small way we are entrepreneurs and that is why this Dreamstarter opportunity caught my eye.

His dream is to expand his business to includes building a certified “imu” (a traditional Hawaiian underground oven) and smokehouse.

“Entrepreneurship should start at a young age so that we can grow into adulthood knowing that you have made a difference for yourself, your family and eventually your friends.”

The Potential Impact in the Future

“My ultimate dream is to expand our business and create more opportunities for our fellow youth. This will not only benefit our peers but also the people of the community.

With his Dreamstarter grant, Aukea says he will be able to build an infrastructure that can be used for many years down the road and enable him “to use the traditional methods that was once used by my ancestors. This could conserve energy, create a healthier lifestyle and give more appreciation for the hard work that is put into this process.”

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