The commoditization of agriculture has done great things for product consistency and price stabilization, but has frequently fractured regional food systems in its wake. For every ten bags of all-purpose flour I buy from a producer like Ardent Mills, all ten will taste stale, and yet the same. What the producer gains in sameness and shelf-stability, the farmer loses in revenue and product control; and the consumer loses in flavor, terroir, locality, and traceability.
In 1944, Paul Fagan acquired 14,000 acres of land in Hana and brought cattle from Molokaʻi to start Hana Ranch. Today, Hana Ranch is a working cattle ranch and diversified organic farm. Although some of our pastures are located on green rolling hillsides, other pastures run up the mountains cut with sharp lava rock, and other pastures slide into lush, coastal rainforests. Many of these landscapes are impassable by motorized vehicle and impractical to walk on foot. Here, the horse is a necessary tool and a trusted companion.
When we hold powerful connections to place, the typical boundary between environment and self begins to blur, resulting in an acute feeling of wholeness, community and vitality. Establishing a primal connection to an outdoor landscape tends to make one feel small, inspired and alive. This raw connection has a name coined by the architectural philosophy Biophilic Design: ‘Spirit of Place’.