© 2023 All rights reserved
Web Design & Marketing by Redmond Media Lab
This Workstay Story was written by Krishna Bheda, if you’d like to learn more about the Heavenly Hawaiian Workstay Program, click here!
“I hadn’t come to Heavenly Hawaiian for Kona Coffee. I came to find community, to expand my skills, and to find direction. I did all that, and grew a passion for Kona Coffee I never would have had because every single manager made it their mission to educate me, guide me, and offer me countless opportunities to be curious. The tasks that once overwhelmed me, now interested me.” – Krishna Bheda, Heavenly Hawaiian Workstay Alumna
I showed up at Heavenly Hawaiian’s Kona Coffee Farm with zero knowledge of farming and zero knowledge of Kona Coffee. Most of my peers grew up on farms, went to rodeos, and knew how to perform fundamental farm maintenance like weed wacking. I however, did not.
On the contrary, I came from the tech hub, heart of the silicon valley in California. I mowed the grass on my front lawn, but that was about it. This move to a Kona Coffee Farm set me up for quite the awakening. I wouldn’t say it was a rude awakening, but rather, a gentle shove towards reality. The reality of what working on a farm looks like.
Before I really spent time in the field, my vision of farming and agriculture equated to slugs, spiders, sun, and sweat. A reality I was not prepared to face and a reality I avoided at all costs. In my first couple weeks as a workstayer at the farm I focused on becoming a tour guide. I learned the bare bones of Kona coffee quickly, soaking in facts and information from my peers and articles online, relaying them to hundreds of guests everyday. I was connecting with people from all over the world every day, learning their stories, and expanding their perspective of Kona coffee.
What wasn’t expanding was my deep understanding of Kona coffee. I wasn’t growing, I wasn’t getting my hands dirty to experience the intricate culture of farming and agriculture. I was simply talking about it. This could take me only so far in the experience, education, and connection I wanted to give to the guests of our Kona Coffee Farm.
Soon enough, my managers at the farm caught on to me and gently pushed me towards more hands-on experiences. Aka, field work.
I was already comfortable with processing coffee beans; a prerequisite to becoming a tour guide. I could process and pulp a coffee bean from the tree to the roaster with my eyes closed. Terms like landscaping, trimming, suckering, fertilizing, weed wacking however, were foreign to me. If anything, they intimidated me.
I was not keen on delving into them at all.
I was content with the coffee basics, enjoying Hawaii, and indulging in a personal growth journey during this transitional time in my life. What I didn’t realize? Learning field work and spending time outside amongst the trees would actually play an instrumental role in my personal growth.
Nonetheless, I was scheduled to do field work at least once a week. This meant I was still tending to the coffee beans but also fertilizing plants, trimming roots of coffee saplings, watering hundreds of trees, working in the nursery, clearing fields, building stairs, and harvesting coffee. All tasks that I talked about on my tours, but never did myself. All tasks that unfortunately put me near slugs, spiders, sun, and sweat.
At first, I despised field work days, dragging my feet to work. I would work with my managers to get the work done, and leave. My goal was to be in and out, and avoid the 4 S’s at all costs. Everyone knew it.
But then, something changed. After a couple weeks, the slugs didn’t spook me. The sweat gave me a glow. The sun energized me.
I was able to connect with my tours because I could talk about my own experiences in the field rather than stating facts.
I started spending more time with the farm’s field manager and roaster. Two people who are arguably some of the most knowledgeable and passionate coffee associates. To my surprise, I began to seek out their knowledge instead of being complacent when they offered it.
Their teachings started clicking with my learnings. And my coffee knowledge began to build. Instead of information flying over my head, I was able to connect the dots.
I started to look forward to my days in the field, and this was everything.
I hadn’t come to Heavenly Hawaiian for coffee. I came to find community, to expand my skills, and to find direction. I did all that, and grew a passion for coffee I never would have had because every single manager made it their mission to educate me, guide me, and offer me countless opportunities to be curious. The tasks that once overwhelmed me, now interested me.
Although I still have much to learn about the hands-on work of a Kona coffee farm, I am proud to bring home the skills that I now do have. I am even more proud of these skills and tasks that have pushed me out of my comfort zone and given me dozens of new perspectives on the Kona coffee industry.
Yes, there are a lot of slugs, spiders, sun, and sweat. But there is also a lot of passion, joy, science, and love that goes into how we grow and care for our farm.