The Heavenly Chronicles: The Jungle at Dave's Place
While the sun rose up over the top of Hualalai, the crew hopped into the F250 and made headway to The Other Farm. Just up the road several miles, the extra eight acres of Heavenly Hawaiian Coffee Farms house the founders of the farm, Dave and Trudy Bateman.
The winding drive through the roads of Kona would have lulled the gang back to sleep. Especially the gentle warmth that had come with the rising sun, which fell atop the sleepy shoulders of the soldiers in the truck. Sersch, our Field Manager, was in charge of getting the crew to Dave's farm; he had arrived at Basecamp that morning around 7:30 a.m. to pick up the Work-Stayers. Amy, Brayden, Savanna, Zack, and Alison were the ones that lumbered out of the house and hopped into the old truck.
Morning view as the F250 led the crew across Hualalai's mountain to The Other Farm.
The F250 had always been a dusty vehicle. It housed an explosive amount of biodiversity within it's seat cushions. The windows can roll down, and back up. Which is still exciting news, even now. Her tires had slowly eroded away from use on the farm, by the lava rock and atrocious angles to climb up and down the mountain. Sometimes it would take a few tries to hear her tick-tick-tick erupt into a song of engine whirring. Yet, everyday she always seemed to get the job done and this was one of those days. A left turn had brought her around to see Dave and Trudy's driveway. Slowly, up, up, up, they all went to the farm.
The F250 in all her glory. Parked alongside the driveway to Dave and Trudy's farm.
"It was very intimidating. Like walking into a jungle." Sersch briefly described the day. It had been started by the view of the coffee trees from the truck as the crew drove up. Green everywhere. The grass had melded into the hues of the coffee leaves, muddling the rows. Distinguished lines had not been seen in those acres in over five years. March 26th was the day that would all change.
First glance: seeing the amount of pruning to be done was daunting as the shoots towered overhead and choked out the sun.
The task at hand was a large one. After the crew had learned a thing or two about pruning the day before, they were excited to get a move on with this job. "[This project is] definitely easier with a whole lot of people. Mentally, speaking." Serch remembered as he and Ray, the Farm Manager at Heavenly, gathered the gang around and explained what the day would entail. It would begin with a small crew weed whacking. Alex and Gerald were told to go about the rows and begin cleaning them up. This would help with moving about the trees. As for the rest of the Work-Stayers, they were told to begin pruning and suckering the coffee trees as they had learned how to the day before. "Leave as much cherry as what makes sense. Let light in between the shoots."
Alex and his typical, beaming smile, getting ready to weed whack Dave's Farm.
Sersch and Ray both had their days filled with tasks. Sersch was to stay and maintain the Work-Stay field project, while Ray had to make his way back to Headquarters (Heavenly Hawaiian Farmhouse) to color sort green beans. The rest of the crew got straight to work. Chopping, whacking and muffled music could all be heard from the road as everybody dispersed into the trees. Heavenly's Work-Stay Manager, Alison, flitted about between pruning and suckering with the rest of the crew and snapping photographs to remember this specific day. Chatter, laughter and camera clicks found their way betwixt the rises and falls of the sounds from the field.
Pruning can be done by hand, but it proves to be most successful and efficient for both, the pruners and the trees, when folks use tools like these. Our preferred method? A razor tooth saw, with pull-back cutting action. Farthest above: Giggling among the trees. Above: the Corona saw blade up close. Middle: Sersch, the Field Manager himself, wielding a pruning blade. Below: the blade in action, cutting a particular shoot that had a fault.
Weather protection for that day was particularly pleasant. With the shade of the trees themselves to hide in, the sun had little opportunity to hinder Heavenly's crew. After noon, however, there had been rain. This is quite typical weather for those who live on Kona's coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Yesterday's lesson had been learned from - when the crew had been rained on, enough to make them soggy and cold. So the crew had come a little better prepared to Dave's farm. Extra layers had been brought, and as the rain subsided the threat of soggy britches did as well. Really, the only worry at the time had transitioned from saturation raining from the sky, to saturation caught between the layers of clothing. Many folks were more wet from sweat than rain that day.
Work-Stayer, Savanna, figuring which shoot to remove from one of the trees at The Other Farm.
Around one o'clock, the crew turned down for a lunch break. On the back porch of Dave and Trudy's house, each Ohana member laid their meals out and happily started to eat. A well deserved break, to say the very least.
Part of the crew enjoying time to relax after working through the morning. From left to right: Heavenly's Field Manager, Sersch; Work-Stayers, Amy, Savanna and Brayden.
After breaking for lunch, the gang felt rejuvenated and headed back into the coffee jungle.
Amy, one of our Work-Stay members working in the field.
Our newest member, Zack, examining branches and shoots throughout the trees.
Hard at work, Brayden is seen bobbing around the branches to get to the trunk of a coffee tree. Notice the spider webs? It's pollination station during this time of the season. Spiders are everywhere, eating well and getting fat. Which is fun for the spiders, but not as much fun for those working in the field.
One fun tradition that stems directly from the Work-Stay crew is a call for 'twenty push ups'. Poor Zack was late to get started, and the only one photographed during his twenty. He has since commented on his form and is continuing to better himself. Way to go, Zack! We're proud of ya, buddy.
Zack came to us and was immediately put into a fourteen day, mandated quarantine when he arrived on the island. He has completed his days away from folks without sickness and is able to work with us now, as a healthy, capable young man. As an aside, he is also searching for an agent to help him get into modeling for high fashion magazines, only because of these photos. Please email us if you are interested or have any information about how to get started. Mahalo nui.
Miss Amy can be seen hydrating and observing the hard work that has been done in the rows during her water break.
Mr. Sersch, living large.
From front to back: Amy, Savanna, Sersch, Brayden, and Zack. Picture this with inspiring music playing in the background.
Boom! Flash mob! Bet you didn't see that coming. While keeping a good social distance, the group came together for an adorable, short performance. The majority of the time was spent coordinating the exhibition, but no bother.
The gang exploded to the left and to the right, somewhere there is a video that captured it all, but this pretty much sums it up too.
Hold. Hold, hold. Now fall. Great job folks. Apologies about the bright sun.
With morale still high, and several hours left in the day, the crew then found their way back into the thick of it. There was still so much more to be done.
Sersch, Zack, Savanna, Brayden, Amy, and Alison all pictured for the day.
Miss Alison seemed to be having some issues with that tree's pruning.
Sometimes coffee trees can be temper-mental about losing their limbs, which seems fair. This one in particular had been harder to remove, and when it did, Alison toppled over with it...She's okay, folks.
The day went on and the sun continued across the sky. Soon enough it was time to head home. The Heavenly Crew heaved themselves back into the F250 and off they were. Shower first, then food? Food and then shower? The questions rose as the drive brought them back to Basecamp. Another day on the farm, completed.