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Organically-Fed, Chicken Heart
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Punachicks Farm chickens are raised outdoors on grass pasture and have constant access to fresh air and sunshine. The chickens enjoy fresh grass and bugs along with local feed sources such as papaya, banana, mac nuts, sunflower seeds, and whey in addition to organic feed. They are also moved twice a week to ensure access to optimal foraging opportunities.
Punachicks Farm is a small family farm run by wife and husband Emily and Yoric Taaroa. The couple started the farm in 2013 to fill the gap in the market for locally grown, pasture raised chicken. In the thick of the pandemic, Emily and Yorick seized an opportunity to buy out an existing pastured egg producer’s laying flock. In August 2020, they dove into pastured egg production, a game-changer that helped offset their loss from losing their restaurant accounts.
Emily mentioned that neither she nor Yoric had farming experience and that they’ve had to learn everything from scratch (no pun intended). They are very grateful to be part of the vibrant Hawai‘i Island farming community which has always been willing to offer advice guiding them through their journey.
Emily was born and raised in Hawai‘i and has deep ties to Hawai‘i Island. “I've always been passionate about healthy food and creating a thriving local food system,” she said. “Strangely enough, I was actually a vegetarian for 17 years before starting our farm, having been put off by the industrialized meat industry.” She has since transitioned to eating high quality pasture raised meats.
Yoric is originally from the island of Huahine in Tahiti and has a background in construction, which has been a huge asset in building their pastured pens and farm buildings. “Our farming enterprise is a culmination of all of our past experiences coming together so that we can do something meaningful for the local community,” Emily said. “Yoric and I know that we aren't going to get rich raising pastured chickens, but we'll be doing something that we can both feel good about.”
Punachicks Farm started with a shoestring budget on a five acre lease parcel and a very modest processing set up. “We are proud to be the first farm in the state to have been approved for the USDA 20K bird/year processing exemption and have paved the way for others to follow,” Emily said. The Punachicks Farm has since expanded to 25 acres becoming one of the largest poultry producers in the state of Hawai‘i and the “first fully permitted off-grid on-farm processing building.”
“The time is now for island residents to have more options when it comes to making food choices,” Emily said. “Every dollar you spend on food is a vote for what type of system you want to support and perpetuate for years to come. Your choices have profound impact on the community and local economy.”