“For years I fished commercial, living summers in Wailau Valley to work these windward waters. Sure, the kids went with me; they knew what they were getting into when we moved here.
“There’s too much hassle on the outside, too much dependency on nonessentials. After two years here, we’re eating better than most, harvesting what nature provides—fishes, goats, pigs, fruits from the forest. But we never take more than we need.”
The Kainoas and Joyce’s friend Mike have given nature quite a nudge. Behind their bluff-top house, carefully sited for compatibility with its surroundings, one and a half acres of terraced gardens bear the bounty of their industry: taros, cabbages, corn, beans, potatoes, squashes, sugarcane, wheat for flour, bananas, avocados, figs.
“No chemicals. We don’t know good bugs from bad bugs, so we don’t fight them. We just grow enough for everybody.”
Joyce occupies land to which she holds a title, but she has built her home without the necessary permits.
“If I waited for permits, we still wouldn’t have a roof over our heads. We’re more careful than regulations require about erosion, pollution, conservation, sanitation. After all, we’re the victims if we mess up.”
All the Kainoa youngsters respect and protect their environment, a lesson too few learn at any age. And their unorthodox education is more meaningful in many ways than standard schoolroom fare.
“I teach them all I know—reading, writing, about plants and animals, about agriculture, about what lives in the sea. They know our fish, recognize which to avoid for safety’s sake and when the ocean wants to be left alone.
“They’ve learned first aid and preventive medicine from a doctor friend of ours; also a bankruptcy lawyer who sometimes visits is giving them a continuing course in our legal system, vital knowledge for all Hawaiians who want to keep what little they have left. The kids know that they will be on the losing end if they play hooky in this household.”