Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
The Nightwire staff were invited to visit a lavender farm for a walking tour and lunch. We were excited to take a ride to upcountry in a jeep, and hey, who wouldn’t love a free lunch? We had no idea it would turn out to be such a magical day.
On the way up the driveway, we smelled it……the fresh lavender, sweet and so clear in the upcountry air, far away from the hustle of the coastline highway and everyday traffic. It’s really in upcountry and since the infrastructure of roadways on Maui don’t often connect like driving in the city- we got a little lost – but with the help of the staff we arrived just in time to have some lavender herb tea and really wonderful scones with lavender peach jam. Our hosts gave us an up close look and demo of lavender products as we anticipated our walking tour. We did need light jackets because at the altitude of 4500’ it’s sometimes a little cool. The walking tour is on uneven ground so be mindful to wear sure-footed soles. Our lovely guide Aiyana led a leisurely walk/tour through the terraced hillside of the lavender farm, along the way she picked us samples to touch and smell of the lavender. Ali’i Kula grows about 45 varieties of lavender, of which 7 bloom all year round. We visited a “secret garden” where you could just imagine having a martini after a hard day’s work. The plants and flowering jasmine were amazing not only to look at but to smell and experience.
Lavender is not indigenous to Hawaii but originates in different parts of Europe and is native to the Mediterranean area. It is an herb, belonging to the same family as mint and sage. There are several varieties for culinary uses as well as many for aromatherapy and medicinal purposes. Everyone knows that lavender smells good but it’s also very relaxing. We couldn’t wait to get to the gift shop to start buying great lavender products! But we were soon about to find out about “culinary lavender”.
Following our tour, we returned to the beautiful patio, now set in purple for our lunch. Chef Jahlel Hunter, of Cloud Nine Catering in Makawao, began his preparation on an outdoor platform. The setting was ideal, and we had no idea that we were about to have lunch with the man who created this beautiful experience- Ali’i Chang. We were served lavender lemonade and a beautiful pick-it-up salad consisting of cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and pecans on hearts of Romaine lettuce leaves. The green goddess dressing was a perfect fresh compliment. Our next course was Gourmet Lavender BBQ Chicken served with a buerre blanc sauce and fresh herbs. I felt like we should have been on some cable cooking show- the experience was truly enchanting. Next we were served a Lavender Brownie- wow, delicious! & I was glad someone at my table offered up hers. The lavender infused brownie was so moist it reminded me of a truffle, a truffle fed to me by angels…in heaven. Chocolate and lavender, what a treat!
We got to talking with Ali’i, who told us about a life as an exotic flower farmer in Hana and wanting to pursue something new. He explained that a friend from the mainland came to visit & brought him some lavender. He began researching the plants, discovered that they were drought tolerant, easy to grow, and would thrive with natural irrigation- he’s been cultivating ever since! Ali’i loves visitors and realizes the connection of people to the earth. “The gardens bring so much joy to everyone!” Indeed, Ali’i. He shared with us some of his philosophy about “thinking big”- Oprah has just purchased some nearby property and he told us how he thinks she’ll be a good neighbor. Talking with him I could visualize Oprah sitting just were I was, having lunch with Ali’i. I can even see him on her TV show. This place felt truly magical. Maybe it was the lavender in the air, the mystery of the future, or reconnecting with the land. At Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm you will have a highly sensory, seeing, touching, feeling, tasting & hearing experience. We loved this place!
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is another must-do when on Maui! Online at www.aliikulalavender.com.
Check out their fantastic products- we especially love the Lavender Squeeze Bag ($10) for long airplane rides or a stressful day at the office, or the Lavender Body Spritzer ($10) after showering or before bed. I know I’m going to try some culinary products- I don’t think I’ll ever forget that Lavender Lemonade! And I look forward to grilling some Lavender Chicken this summer. I’m sure you’ll love the lovely lavender choices! And thank us for the great online shopping site!! click here for more info