Milo is the Plant, Twisted Together with Love

Restoring Milo to the Landscape of Kawailoa, Oahu

One of the trees which Kalona Brand will be returning to the landscape of Kawailoa is milo (thespesia populnea). Milo means to turn, twirl, twist or spin. The milo is believed to be indigenous to Hawaii and is also one of the species of trees brought to Hawaii by our Polynesian ancestors.  


Milo had a variety of uses including making of cordage from the bark, using the fruit to make dyes for kapa, the trunks and branches for umeke (calabashes) for the storing of food, and flowers for the making of lei.


The milo is referenced in the traditional Hawaiian creation chant, the Kumulipo:


Hanau ka laumilo noho i kai – Born is the laumilo (eel) living in the sea

Kiai ia e ka milo noho i uka – Guarded by the milo (tree) living on land


This refrain identifies a common theme in the Hawaiian worldview and cosmology, that all the elements, animals, trees, and plants are related and interconnected. The species of the sea are guarded by the trees of the land, and together balance and harmony is achieved.


The popularity and importance of the milo is indicated by the number of place names in Hawaii named after the milo including:


Kamilonui (the large milo) and Kamiloiki (the small milo) valleys in Maunalua, Oahu

Kamilo point in Kau, Hawaii Island

Kamiloholu (the swaying milo) in Puna, Hawaii Island

Kamiloloa (the tall milo) in the Kona district of Molokai

Lalamilo (the milo branch) in Kohala, Hawaii Island

Waiakamilo (water of the milo), in Kona, Oahu


The milo is also referenced by the wind of Makaopau in the story of Keawenuiaumi:


He makani hao i ka laumilo ko Makaopau – Makaopau’s wind is one that blows the leaf of the milo


Milo is found in one of our traditional Hawaiian proverbs:


He milo ka laau, mimilo ke aloha. – Milo is the plant, twisted together with love.

This proverb is referring to the milo tree as its flowers, leaves, or seeds were used by kahuna (priests) who practiced hana aloha (prayers to evoke love).


We are excited to be restoring this traditional tree to Kawailoa as we rebuild the forest incorporating native and traditional species, increase biodiversity, add organic matter to the soil, and recreate a model of agricultural abundance for Hawaii and beyond.

New Sustainable Agricultural Venture to Launch on Oahu’s North Shore

HONOLULU – April 30, 2019 – Kalona Brand Company, LLC (“Kalona”) announced today that it has launched a new vertically integrated sustainable agricultural venture on Oahu’s North Shore focusing on growing cacao, ʻulu, and avocado to create value added food products including premium Hawaiian chocolate bars for both local and off-island markets. The 222-acre farm is designed to produce measurable environmental and community benefits. The company also plans to establish a 20-acre local foods component which will provide fruits and vegetables to Hawaii’s local schools and communities.


The founders of the company include Hoʻoulu Mahiʻai LLC, an affiliate of Kamehameha Schools, Equilibrium Capital Group, and Greenleaf Farm Management.


Founder of Greenleaf Farm Management, and one of the company’s Board of Managers is Eric Pond, a 21-year veteran of agricultural industry who has developed and managed over 6,000-acres of permanent croplands. Pond has been involved in the project since its inception and stated, “We have been laying the groundwork for this venture for over four years now and I’m very excited that we are now moving forward with this regenerative farm concept to improve the soil, restore the forest, and create sustainably grown food and value-added agricultural products for the community.”


Kalona has secured a lease from Kamehameha Schools to establish the farm in Kawailoa above Haleiwa Town.  The company will be planting permanent tree crops and native windbreaks which will restore the forest canopy and rebuild the soil on land had previously been used for corn and sugar cane.


Kawika Burgess has been hired as the Chief Executive Officer overseeing the company’s operations. “We’re seeking to create sustainable abundance as our namesake Kalona Iki created generations ago, through regenerative agriculture and the development of a uniquely Hawaiian brand of food products,” said Burgess.


About Kalona Brand LLC: Kalona Brand, LLC is a vertically integrated, sustainable farm, focusing on cacao, ulu, and avocado crops. Kalona seeks to regenerate agriculture in Hawaiʻi by developing sustainable farm operations and food systems. We strive for sustainable food systems that provide long term financial viability, actively engage and strengthen communities, steward the ‘āina with environmentally sound land use practices, and competitiveness in a global economy.