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<b>Downtown Express</b><br><i>California’s Dana Outrigger team approaches the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.</i><br><br><i>Photo by Dana Edmunds</i>
Vol. 16, no. 6
Dec. 2013 / Jan. 2014


Friend of the Farmer 

Story by Sonny Ganadan
Photos by Jack Wolford

More than a thousand bees pulse on a wooden frame as Laryssa Kwoczak searches for their queen. “Ah, there she is,” she says, pointing to the dot on the queen’s thorax that gives her away. Kwoczak picks up the queen with her leather gloves and transfers her to a swarm box that hums a few yards away under a canopy of eucalyptus and kiawe trees. “Hopefully this works,” Kwoczak says. “It’s my first time trying to transfer a queen like this to make a new colony.”

Kwoczak steps away from the bees, takes off her protective veil and shakes out her long blond hair. She is giving me a tour of the Paradise Meadows farm near South Point, on the Big Island and telling me about the year she’s spent volunteering here. “I kept my own hive at my apartment in Philadelphia before I moved here,” she says. “I always wanted to learn more about raising bees, and I wanted to visit Hawai‘i, too. So I picked Paradise Meadows.”

Kwoczak came to Paradise Meadows by becoming a WWOOFer, one of the thousands of volunteers who every year fly to Hawai‘i and alight on local farms to work the land. WWOOFing— the act of volunteering on an organic farm in exchange for shelter, food and a chance to learn a thing or two about farming—has become a global phenomenon (WWOOF, by the way, stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms). In Hawai‘i it is an integral component of the burgeoning organic food movement, supplying labor to hundreds of Island farms and adventure to intrepid volunteers. “With WWOOFing,” says Kwoczak, “I got to learn to be an apiarist. There was no middleman, no class. I just contacted a farm and showed up.”