Fields of bright yellow sunflowers have been emerging from Maui’s central valley since Earth Day last year, a sight that’s become synonymous with Pacific Biodiesel. This Maui-based renewable energy company has been farming the sunflowers and other crops as part of its sustainable, zero-waste “ag and energy” model to produce cooking oils, livestock feed, biodegradable and non-toxic biodiesel fuel, and even cosmetic oil used in the company’s new reef-safe sunscreen.
In October, Pacific Biodiesel welcomed a group of Maui mothers to its sunflower farm to meet co-founder and Maui County Councilmember Kelly King, learn about the mission of this pioneering company and try its new Kuleana® natural beauty products.
After the product demonstration (the crowd favorite, by the way, was Soothe beauty oil made with pure Hawaiian Macadamia nut oil), the mamas took part in an informal focus group to give input on the natural skincare products. They shared that they prefer products with the least amount of ingredients, especially for use on their children, and only pure essential oils for added fragrance. Some baby products they suggested for development: a simple, unscented lotion; a gentle body wash; and a natural balm or salve to help stave off diaper rash.
Then the star attraction – an opportunity to step inside the blooming sunflower field to take selfies with the sunflowers!
“The sunflowers aren’t just yellow, they’ve become a golden opportunity for our company to connect with the community to share the inspiring story about Pacific Biodiesel,” said Marketing Director Joy Galatro. “Most people are surprised to learn that we created the very first retail biodiesel pump in America, right here on Maui more than two decades ago – and today we’re producing more than 5.5 million gallons of biodiesel annually, that’s an important part of Hawaii’s renewable energy mix. We’re also sustainably farming on former sugarcane land, continuing each year to divert from the landfill and recycle hundreds of thousands of gallons of used cooking oil, and developing new locally made cosmetic and culinary products. After learning all of this in our farm tours, people walk away filled with enthusiasm and pride in this Maui company, and feel a renewed sense of hope for our planet.”
Reflecting about the farm tour, one Maui Mama shared that she enjoyed, “Learning that it’s a truly local operation that focuses on reusing so much local product, for example the macadamia nuts being pressed into oil and the excess being made into meal for animal feed. I love supporting local companies that have great morals.”
Another woman posting on social media about the farm tour said it was, “really nice to hear about their pesticide and herbicide free farming practices and their vision for local Maui and Hawaii products.”
And one kupuna who attended added, “It was a treat to be there and see the progress and vision of dedication into making sustainable use of viable land, free of pesticide and herbicide, into products for today. Welcoming us to step foot on the land and property and to hear first-hand how it all started and where it’s going. Seeing the sunflowers in bloom and understanding how they grow and finally end up looking at Haleakala! That was a special tidbit… Asking for personal input from your community lets us be part of your product and that makes for inclusion. (We) appreciate that!”
To learn more about Pacific Biodiesel, and renewable energy visit www.biodiesel.com. To learn about reef-safe Kuleana® Sunscreen and all the natural Kuleana skincare products and shop online, visit www.KuleanaBeauty.com.
Sunflower Fun Facts Shared During The Farm Tour
• Sunflowers are a “100 day crop” – it takes 100 days “from soil to oil” (from seed in the ground to harvest), allowing for up to three harvests per year.
• Every single seed on each sunflower bloom must be pollenated by a bee. There are nearly half a million BUSY honeybees on this Central Maui farm!