The ParaGenius Foundation

The ParaGenius Foundation was created by Dr. Carolyn Dean in Maui, Hawaii and was awarded 501 (c)(3) status in February, 2023. EIN: 88-3080647

The mission, duty and purpose of the ParaGenius Foundation (PGF) is to address, educate, and assist in promoting and maintaining wellness through:

1) Organic Farming  – With education and support activities aimed toward promoting clean, sustainable, organic farming to the workforce and the local community. 
2) Healthy Lifestyle Coaching – Utilizing coaching as a tool to introduce a healthy lifestyle to vulnerable populations and at-risk individuals.

Access
To:

'Oko'a Farms Eclectic Selection of quality local food

Jobs

Education

Advancement
Of:

Renewable energy resources for local farm production

Infrastructure

food production efficiencies

THE FOUNDER

Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD ND

I’ve always been aware that if you had land, you should grow something on it. My father took care of our vegetable garden and my mother grew the flowers. As a kid, I just liked playing in the dirt and helping. Since then, everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve grown, or at least, tried to grow vegetables.
In Manhattan, that was impossible! I joined a large CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Moving out to City Island in the Bronx put an end to the weekly abundance of vegetables and fruits. So, I started a thriving CSA on the island.
Food Security became a priority for me after 9/11 when we all realized how dependent we are on food trucked in from the agricultural belt and how easily we could be cut off from our source of food.

When I moved to Maui, I immediately found a farm that delivers organic produce and was introduced to Ryan Earehart and ‘Oko’a Farms.

In exchange for some experiments on the farm, and the possibility of growing specific crops for my dietary supplement company RnA Reset, my company bought the farm two Italian tractors.

As Ryan was renting his farm, and banks are hesitant to loan money to farmers because of the risks, I provided ‘Oko’a Farms a loan at a low interest rate to help purchase his farmland and a storefront.

Now with the ParaGenius Foundation, we can increase our efforts to expand farming of organically grown food to make Maui more sustainable and self-sufficient while providing work and fulfillment for young farmers.

'Oko'a Farms: a farmer's journey

After 11 years of island-wide sales at farmers markets around Maui, ‘Oko’a Farms now has a permanent storefront in upcountry Maui offering nearly 100 varieties of organically grown fruits, vegetables, herbs and value-added products. The move from four markets each week to one main store is a welcome change for Ryan Earehart and his partner Salvador Gil Coca, who have dreamt of this day for decades. The retail store acquisition is ‘Oko’a’s commitment to the community, which will improve access and quality of food in Maui’s ‘Ohana in the produce-centric market.

 

‘Oko’a Farms employs organic and regenerative farm methods and their reach among the community has continued to expand in their 11 years of operation. Our glimpse into the demands and limitations placed on local farmers like ‘Oko’a has allowed us to see the many areas where they could use additional resources.

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THE INSPIRATION

'Oko'a Farms & Ryan Earehart

After a nasty flu, Ryan decided good food was lacking in his life. He took an extra job in the produce section of a local health food store to be able to learn about healthy foods and wellness.

He began a produce delivery business in Arizona, wanting to see more people have access to quality produce. The dream to grow his own food and eat from his own farmland was born.

He made a decision to move to either Costa Rica or Maui, to be near farmland that produced the food he loved and the lifestyle he wanted to live.  Maui won! 

Ryan became produce manager at Mana Foods in Paia, learning valuable skills and making pivotal contacts with local farmers. 

Ryan leased his first parcel of land to begin growing his own food. It was around this time he connected with his now business partner, Sal. From here, they created an efficient homesteading lifestyle using solar power, building their own refrigerated packing shed and greenhouse, as well as growing a chicken farm now boasting of 800 laying hens.

‘Oko’a Farms was born. ‘Oko’a” means ‘different, whole’ in Hawaiian.

Ryan purchased his main farm land, along with a new storefront unit in Upcountry, Maui,

‘Oko’a’s storefront opens! The opening will quadruple local produce availability to the community. In Ryan’s own words:  “We didn’t lease; we purchased this store, and now we are a local, community business Maui can rely upon.” 

PGF's Aims and Goals

Support farming of organically grown food

Beginning in Maui with ‘Oko’a Farms, to increase the public’s access to high quality and local produce.

  1. Provide funds
    a.

to retain working interns and foreign workers who will learn and pass on organic farming practices.

    b.

to hire local workers who are reluctant to work for minimum wage.

    c.

to increase the use of solar energy on local organic farms.

    d.

to allow for updates to irrigation, roads, and housing on farm lands.

    2. Undertake research and development to enhance farm efficiency and productivity

    a.

Research dehydrating and freeze drying methods to help offset the inevitable loss of produce on a working farm.

    b.

Support Continuous Farming Education and Community Outreach Programs.

    c.

Continue to provide a unique and expansive array of fruits and vegetables to the community.

    d.

Support the collaboration of small local farmers (production and sales opportunities).

    e.

Develop a farming community to leverage talent, experience and resources.

Fallout from Covid Quarantine 

  1. A large work pool of young workers have been using welfare and EBT (food stamps) for several years due to Covid.
  2. Since our young workers are not engaged in a work-for-pay experience, they have not been learning valuable skills and have not been included in the economy.

'Oko’a Farms Serving Vulnerable Populations

 

    1. ‘Oko’a Farms, which has a large presence at the Upcountry Market in Kula, has been a participant in the Double Up Food Bucks program (Da Bux), which offers a 50% price reduction to EBT recipients. 
    2. The program benefits tens of thousands each week, and these customers represent at least 1/4 of ‘Oko’as’ total sales. (We estimate this number of customers is actually much larger because individuals buy for their families!)
    3. The farmer has witnessed a great majority of these customers being young people, and in connecting with them, this community of young people have not worked for several years, have not been receiving further education, and have not been able to hold down jobs. 

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Building upon our ethos of action-oriented charity, PGF and ‘Oko’a Farms join forces in a holistic initiative to support Maui Wildfire survivors seeking employment and housing.

This multi-pronged approach aims to simultaneously empower Maui wildfire survivors and cultivate future stewards of Maui’s organic farming movement.

Initial design of the program will offer eight wildfire survivors year-long contracts with full-time living wages and rent-free accommodations, fostering financial stability and equipping participants with invaluable agricultural skills.

This symbiotic union empowers survivors to rebuild their lives while contributing to the long-term sustainability of local food systems, with potential for additional farm partnerships to expand the initiative.

If you or someone in your ‘Ohana is a wildfire survivor in need of a longer term housing and employment solution, PLEASE REACH OUT!

Farm Practices Training

Actual hands on farming on the Farm Site

    •Planting
    •Weeding
    •Harvesting
    •Managing Large Chicken Hatchery
    •Managing goat herd and milking goats


Cleaning and preparing produce and inventory control for

    •Farmers’ Markets
    •Farm food delivery
    •Store

 

Plant management practices/Creating infrastructure

Timing of planting

Crop rotation

Irrigation

Deer control

Charting farm operations with a computerized database, tracking, and documentation

4. Apprentice training at ‘Oko’a Farms Store and Farmers’ Markets

Customer service and sales using Point of sale software

Produce Packing and Display

Food preparation

Freeze drying and food dehydration

Produce inventory

Shipping and Receiving

As can be seen by the many tasks involved in a busy farming operation, apprentices and donors will be well served by engaging in this project, promoting experience and expanding resources.