Our Agricultural Program serves as a classroom for the most innovative and earth friendly methods of growing certified organic produce and plants that respect the biodiversity of our ecosystems. This means that our soil care will employ techniques that replenish, not deplete, the earth; our landscaping will focus on native plants that are irrigated with limited water and natural resources; and our harvesting techniques will avoid the need for extensive use of mechanical equipment and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We don’t intend to nourish our bodies and develop our grounds at the expense of our environment.
Soil Care and Irrigation
Composting and soil improvement are a critical part of sustainable organic gardening methods. On the campus, we will use drip irrigation systems and water recycling to conserve water. Our soils will be amended with natural composting to include recycling manure from the therapeutic equestrian program, worm composting, and the use of only organic pesticides for plant care and propagation. Vermiculture methods will attract natural predators of insects and rodents while maintaining a balanced ecosystem.
For many years, our society has done a disservice to the environment through introducing exotic, non-native, invasive plants into the local landscape. We plan to use only native plants in our landscaping and to limit the amount of turf in favor of preserving the existing natural environment that first attracted us to the Campus site. We will compost all cuttings to assure healthy growing methods are employed and will do the majority of our mulching and composting onsite as part of our education and training programs.
Having fresh and healthy foods to eat is largely dependent not only on how they are grown but how and when they are harvested. We plan to minimize the use of heavy, air polluting equipment in the harvesting of our fruits, nuts, herbs, and vegetables at the campus, minimizing the carbon footprint of shipped produce. Harvesting is an activity that scores of our children and adults enjoy as a hobby or a way to spend calm, quiet time. We assure that harvested foods are cleaned and stored in a way that promotes optimum health and freshness of our products, and the use of seasonal foods is a big part of our culinary program.
In addition to serving as a training ground for career advancement, our Organic Gardening program will provide a host of opportunities for microenterprise development. We will grow specialty herbs and heirloom vegetables for resale to our community partner chefs; grow and sell cut flowers, fruits, nuts, and citrus at our own and other Farmer’s Markets; and build a greenhouse to develop new varieties of plants and herbs to improve and enhance the foods we eat. Our vineyards will thrive on the surrounding hillsides and provide endless options for new products and income to support our students and our programs.
The hallmark of the Charles R. Cono Campus for Life Quality is our determination to set standards not only for the programs we develop and offer to children and adults with special needs across their lifespan, but for the methods we use to build and sustain the campus. We intend to employ the most cutting-edge practices in developing a “green”, sustainable, and environmentally friendly campus. Our goal of a healthy lifestyle for those we serve includes a healthy environment that serves as a model for the future.
Director of Culinary & Agricultural Program
Chef Jana McMahon’s interest in food started early…in the kitchen of her parents and at the ovens of her grandmothers. A degreed horticulturalist from Colorado State University and cuisine savvy, her dishes utilize locally grown fresh product, simply yet elegantly prepared. Her 20 plus years of cooking experience spans from working “in the trenches” under accomplished Colorado chefs in several fine dining restaurants in Denver and Vail, partner in Glorious Food Catering in Maui, Executive Chef onboard the Hawaiian Based, Yacht Kakela, to owner of a Maui based private chef service. Jana and her cuisine has been featured on The Travel Channel. She is a Hawaii Master Gardener, a beekeeper and grows organic produce and herbs for her client’s meals from her own garden. She is a Vice Chair of Slow Food Maui and a member of Chef’s Collaborative and America’s Farmland Trust.