Munar has learned a great deal about collaboration and leadership at the farm. The harvests produced by Munar and his cohorts can be seen at the farmers’ market, local stores, and restaurants. They were even featured on the menu of the White House luncheon hosted by former first lady Michelle Obama.
Like the other interns, Munar works in rotations for three days a week, but he likes harvesting the best. “It makes you feel really good and, if you planted them as well, it feels even better because you know you are feeding people,” Munar says.
Planting the seed of change is the mission of MA’O organic farm. Waianae is one of the poorest areas in Hawaii: More than 25 percent of its population lives in poverty, and only 9.2 percent of the population holds a college degree. “Our core goal is to get young people to college and prepare them for future leadership roles,” the farm’s co-founder and managing director Gary Maunakea-Forth tells CNBC Make It.
According to economist Raj Chetty, inter-generational mobility, or the chance of your making it even if you started off poor, is lower in the U.S. than in other nations, and inequality is highly inherited. But a college education can serve as an equalizer. That’s why the founders of MA’O Organic Farm believe the internship for tuition programs are crucial for lifting the next generation of Waianae.
As for Munar, his dream is to start his own farm and give back to the community in the way he’s learned at MA’O. He will be transferring to University of Hawaii West Oahu to study sustainable community food systems in Spring 2019. As he puts it, “I want to not only feed the people, but also bring changes.”
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