In Hawaiʻi, the season of Lono is upon us, a season historically marked by heavy rain and huge surf, when kōlea (plovers) return to our lawns and ʻulu (breadfruit) hang heavy on the trees.
"Lonoikamakahiki," is a seasonal greeting whose origin reaches back to ancient and annual ceremonies to honor the Lono element, to reflect on and usher in the seasonʻs energy of plenitude, and to come together to recommit, year after year, to the collective abundance of our communities.
As food producers as well as community members, our impact is always foremost in our minds. We know that helping to balance Axis deer on Maui has a wide range of positive impacts on our ecosystems and while we work to fully and accurately quantify our environmental impact, we want to share the metrics we already know, including the ways in which weʻve been able to strengthen our community, and our local food systems and economy.
Alongside our incredible (and quickly growing) Maui Nui ʻOhana, we were able to harvest 3,845 deer in 2021, mitigating the addition of 16,000 Axis deer to Mauiʻs population over the next five years.
In terms of building harvesting and processing capacity, this year was about setting a foundation for considerable growth in 2022. We opened the doors to our on-island Butcher Facility in July and we are now in the process of doubling its size as well as tripling our on-island frozen storage capacity to meet expected needs in the coming year.
This year we welcomed 10 new hires, including a Chief Venison Officer and Culinary Director and we are working towards 30 full time team members on Maui in the coming year to meet the exponential growth of the current deer population. We have also been fortunate to gain new Mission Partners - both Patagonia Provisions and Anova Culinary - who have helped bring new people and new ways of enjoying venison to the table.
October marked the launch of our online Butcher Shop which gave our customers access to a wide variety of new cuts, including organs. We are so grateful and blown away by the response to this new shopping format with our December Restock selling out in less than three hours! Our Butcher Shop allows customers old and new to bring home more venison while we work our way towards opening our next round of subscriptions in the Spring of 2022. The Spring will also mark the launch of two new flavors of Bone Broth as well as an all-new Venison Stick flavor.
We look forward to the year ahead with an unprecedented excitement as our capacity to make a substantial impact on balancing Mauiʻs deer numbers - for the health of our community, our food systems and ecosystems - begins to grow at an encouraging pace. To our ʻohana and team, our customers and community, we want to extend our deep mahalo for continuing to help move our mission forward, for continuing to bring this rich food source into your kitchens and lives. Mahalo, mahalo, mahalo.
In addition to hoping for happy holidays all around, we also send out our millenias-old well-wish - to come together, to think and act collectively towards the shared health of both people and place. LONOIKAMAKAHIKI!