Self-Sufficient Farmers Living on a Dime in Maui

One of married sons, along with his equally creative wife, live a uniquely creative life style. In an earlier blog post over a year ago, we explained how our son Jonah, who is a contractor had built eight luxury homes in St. George just before the recession.

After the bottom fell out of the building market, he and his wife Aja, who also happened to have been a former Miss Las Vegas and had graduated from Harvard as an undergrad, decided to sit down with a world map and pinpoint where in the world they really wanted to live for a while.

Their fingers came down on New Zealand and off they went. With a two-year-old in tow and when Aja was seven months pregnant with their second child they took of for kiwi-land, bought a house that was sadly in need of remodeling, and to make a very long and exciting year short, sold the house with enough profit to equal a pretty tidy salary for their year.

With only a one-year visa, they returned to the U.S. and took another look at the map. This time, they landed on the Olympic Pennisula near where Aja had spent most of her childhood summers. They bought an old farmhouse with a saggy floor that they hoped their grand piano from Craig’s List wouldn’t fall through and started fixing up! For details on that amazing story click here.

Even though they loved it, they grew tired of the cold and rain so they got out the map again and decided that their next dream home would be in Hawaii. Maui to be exact! And the home they found was anything but a dream. It was a total “Sow’s Ear”, if you know what we mean! But it was a solid old plantation house from the 1920;s that had been neglected for many years and they knew they could fix it!

They rolled up their sleeves, went to work along with their now four children. Actually they would have to admit that the baby was more hindrance then help and the four year-old wasn’t much help either but their ten year old and seven year old worked like little troopers right along beside them and made that place into a beautiful silk purse.

Last year when we visited they had just finished scraping all the walls and floors. We got to help a little and were amazed at what they had done.  When we retured last week we were delighted to see a sturdy foundation, sleek bamboo floors throughout, cleverly installed electric outlets, and a beautifully designed kitchen!

Now, after literally thousands of hours of work later, they have  finished the main part of the house and Jonah is working on building a new sun room at the back of the house. He has great farmer genes on both sides of my family and loves to work (honestly). In fact he is practically addicted to it!

In addition, both he and Aja are taking self-sufficiency seriously!  They are working to become totally green and self-sufficient. Though it’s expensive to live in Hawaii for most people, they are getting a huge kick out of working the system. They exchange work for goods and love Craig’s list and the ever-present garage sales where they continue to find great deals. For many years Jonah has been buying and converting  Diesel Mercedes station wagons from diesel to “greasel”. They  have traveled over 280,000 miles since they first started doing this on recycled grease (currently from the Mexican restaurant a few blocks from their house) without paying a penny for gas.

Jonah has now built grow boxes and creative Aja has planted fresh vegetables and herbs that abound!  She actually has a passion for growing things and knows all about what is needed to balance the acidic Hawaiian soil. Technically, Aja knows everything!

See the banana trees in the background. There’s also a papaya bush you can’t see. Above is broccolli and kale and below is lettuce and spinach.

And she’s tending a bumper crop of tomatoes:

They house also came with a “knobby” lemon tree and a huge cherry tree which produces tons of fresh cherries for jam which they sell or trade for goods.

Another of Aja’s passions has always been chickens. Jonah makes the chicken coops and Aja fills them up! She has 40 chickens at the moment and she’s looking forward to next month when they start laying eggs. Eggs are from six to eight dollars a dozen in Hawaii, so the money’s going to be rolling in!

Of course the kids love those little chicks too. How’s this for a couple of cute little “chicks”?

Jonah also loves being the chief cook. He juices fresh oranges  from the orange tree in their yard  almost every morning and makes bread once a week:

And they always have a delightful selection of delectable jams, made by the lady to whom they give cherries from their tree.

The last night we were there he stayed up until midnight making his famous homemade granola! He got out his machete’ and whacked open a coconut, a friend traded him for some work, chopped it up, added lots of rolled oats which they buy in 50 pound bags, pure, extra virgin coconut oil, macadamia nuts from a friend’s garden well as lots of other “good for you” stuff and there you go. The best granola you’ve ever tasted!

Their cute little cat takes care of the mice and the rats who used to viisit their compost pile. They have thought of everything!  (Picture by 11 year-old Aniston)

We are in awe of this family’s creative, industrious, even ingenious green lifestyle!  They have given us a heads-up on ways we can do better to save our environment and use the earth’s resources wisely!  They may not have everything they want but they do have everything they need. And if they don’t, they know how to get it….for almost nothing!



  1. Wassup

    This is so awesome! I dream of going back to Molokai (sister island to Maui) and living there free from the constraints of the rapid pace of most places. My parents raised us very much like this couple. We had chickens, pigs, one cow, banana and guava trees, a huge garden, an outdoor drier for fish, smoke house for deer meat we marinated in teriyaki sauce, hibiscus, gardenia, bird of paradise, and fern plants too. My father would lay net in the ocean, deep sea dived, and hunted all the time to provide the freshest and wholesome meals. It was fun as children to chase crab on the table to throw into the pot on the stove. My parents were both college graduates but wanted to have us experience living off the land on Molokai. We bartered our goods with friends and helped each other out. These parents in this article are giving their children a lifetime of experiences they will always remember. Keep up the great work!

  2. Mobile Dialer

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