Our son Jonah and his wife Aja bought and renovated a dilapidated old home in upcountry Maui two years ago. In a labor of love, know-how and creativity they have made it into luscious home full of character and surrounding by fruits and vegetables that are not only lovely to look at but which sustain them. What they can’t grow themselves, they can get free as they trade with friends and neighbors who have access to everything from giant avocados to macadamia nuts to wonderful smoked salami.
By buying in bulk, making things from scratch and bartering with friends and neighbors they figure that they are feeding their family of six for about $200-$250 a month. They have made sustaining themselves like kings with the output of resources rather than money an art form! To take a look at how things looked at their house when we were there four months ago, click here.
They have added a “new” car to their family and now have two old diesel Mercedes Station Wagons that Jonah has converted to run on grease from the Mexican restaurant about two blocks away from their. We figure that have saved from 30-40,000 dollars on fuel since they started doing this several years ago. These “greasels” sure aren’t pretty, but they sure are worth it!
Today the grow-boxes and look like this:
As you can see, the caterpillars have enjoyed the garden too but most of it goes into their mouths!
Any time the kids want to grab a snack they can get sweet little “cutie” or regular oranges off their trees and there’s always a fruit basket that they can choose from:
A neighbor recenlty gave them some passion fruit which made juice “to die for”:
This papaya bush is about to start dropping fruit!
In addition to making a week’s supply of whole wheat bread every week. (at the grocery store bread is about $6 a loaf), they have a “cherry tree” is ready to produce a ton of fruit which they will sell or trade. Jonah gathered a gaggle of guavas just before we got there and made two cases of guava jam!
That, along with installing these great-looking subway tiles on the backsplashes in the kitchen were Jonah’s “projects” for the week just before we arrived. For some reason he wouldn’t let us help with the grout. Smart boy!
This wonderful vine in their back yard (which I thought I killed when I was there “trimming” in December)….
….produces the most amazing squash called chayote. It is fabulous in tortillas with refried beans, cheese, tomatoes etc., Jonah cooked the tortillas from scratch along with some help from the kids. Six-year-old Elsie made the dough for the tortillas. Sure wish I’d taken a picture of her elbow deep in that dough. They have a tortilla maker which the other kids used to squash the dough flat so it could be cooked fresh!
As is normal for squash, it produces plenty. That along with the fabulous homemade granola on the fridge gives you a good idea of the bounty that exists in that house!
And then there’s Aja’s chickens which are now producing from 14-21 eggs every day. At $6 a dozen that’s some pretty nice “spending money” every week!
One of these chickens lays a blue egg every day. Fun!
Ana gathers the eggs and cleans them, although I must admit that she let me help a little, since I haven’t done that since I was a child her age!
These two are extremely aware of how important it is to “be green” and to recycle, not only plastic bottles but furniture and clothing! They’ve furnished their entire house with things they have found on Craig’s list and garage sales. Aja has an eye for what has “class” and buys only what they really need. The incredible deals she finds are truly amazing! Although she didn’t find the dresser she was looking for at this garage sale while we were there, it’s only a matter of time until she will!
The kids only except “store-bought” gifts on special occasions. They can make $15 go a LONG way at a garage sale and are delighted about a great deal on something they not only want, but really need!
They barter and trade like champions. Jonah had helped a guy skin a deer and in return, the guy gave him two huge smoked logs of premium quality salami (worth $30 each), which I must admit was the best I’ve ever tasted, even though I’m not really a salami connoisseur.
On Sunday they invited their good friends to join us for dinner with their family. They used venison and the chayote to create a wonderful red curry. The friends brought checken and vegetable green curry and we royally! Again, Jonah made naan from scratch that filled the house with the wonderful aroma of cooking bread.
And we enjoyed a wonderful meal for 14, with eight of us seated out on their beautiful newly constructed lanai:
What a farm! What a creative couple! We always come home more committed to “going green”!
Fun with their equally fun and frugal kids coming next!