Artist returns to Halawa to beautify family land.
Kalani Pruet and Arturo Montoya take a break in the shade at the Halawa Heliconia Farm.
By Jennifer Smith
Tucked beneath the lush green vines and trees of Halawa Valley, lies a humble, but growing flower farm. The Halawa Heliconia Farm is the proud product of the hard work of an artist and a stock broker.
After meeting on Oahu over 15 years ago, little did Kalani Pruet and Arturo Montoya know that they would meet again on the shores of Molokai.
Staying next to Pruet’s family land in Halawa Valley, Montoya was reunited with the young artist when he came to Molokai in 1995.
Pruet was born and raised on Oahu, but inherited Halawa land from his great-grandmother. He moved to Molokai to set up a homestead and create a retreat. The trained artist thought the scenery would make an excellent inspiration for his landscape paintings.
However, with the help of his neighbor and friend Montoya, Pruet’s hobby for planting tropical flowers on the land quickly became a more industrious enterprise.
“This was an opportunity to do something with the land,” that my family would welcome, Pruet said of his decision to begin the flower farm. While the land is “still a work in progress,” he said the change in the landscape is amazing.
“If it wasn’t for Art’s influence” it wouldn’t look as luxurious as it does, Pruet said, crediting Montoya’s support and expertise for much of the farms aesthetic growth.
After four years of back breaking work the grounds today boast well over 100 different plant varieties, with most in the heliconia or ginger family.
The green thumbed partners have big plans for the future of the farm, including increasing the use of more diversified plantings such as taro, pineapples, bananas, pumpkins, squash, and papayas.
As much as I can, I want to get the flowers out there for “public education,” Pruet said. “I encourage people to come down,” anytime between 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Pruet is really generous with those who have local roots; he provides flowers for local events such as May Day. “My way of donating to that festive occasion” is to provide the bright colors.
The flower entrepreneur is also working on building up his commercial business with the farm. He ships his flowers anywhere in the U.S. and Canada and can ship internationally.
Pruet encourages interested spectators to come out and visit his farm, “I would like to see visitors really appreciate this place.”
For more information on the Halawa Heliconia farm visit Molokaiflowers.com.