When I graduated from Hofstra University last May I knew I had no desire to get a “real” job. I have the mentality that there is enough time to become an “adult” and that the opportunity to travel and see the world is now. So many people of our generation immediately go to grad school or start working a 9 to 5 without allowing time to explore the world and experiencing the unknown. Though there is nothing wrong with choosing a traditional path I knew I would need a more adventurous option. That is why I opted to take the different route. I had heard of the WWOOF ( World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms ) program before and thought it would be and interesting and enlightening experience. The combination of seeing a part of the world that you might not be able otherwise and learning new awesome skills is to good to pass up.
I decided to go to Maui to work on a succulent farm shortly after graduation. Living in paradise and to experience working on some form of farm for even just a few months would be a great start to “post graduate” work. Prior to going on this adventure I had never worked on a farm so it would be very educational. I had a reputation of actually killing succulents…. Something that is not easy to do. However, I was determined to do work on this farm and learn all that I could from my boss and fellow farmers.
Although apprehensive about starting work on a farm all by myself and living with complete strangers, I was super stoked about starting life after college. Arriving at Third Day Nursery I was immediately greeted by a group of eclectic people who had been working on the farm for a few months already. Though Derek, the owner, was on a trip to California the Third Day crew was able to show me the ropes. I learned how to repot orchids, take care of succulents, and even had the opportunity to work with banana plants. After the first week the groove of farm life was taking hold.
Once Derek returned to the island he was able to share his passion for plants. Ever since he was a little kid he knew he wanted to open a nursery. Hailing from Florida, Derek has always worked with succulents. His original plan was to start a nursery in Florida. But, when a friend convinced him to move to Maui, he realized that was exactly where he wanted to be as the island provided the perfect climate for a succulent farm.
Over the course of four years Derek made the nursery his passion project. The property was completely flat and empty in the beginning and he has made it into a jungle fairyland. Every plant was deliberately placed in order to make the land look amazing. Coming from a religious background he decided to name his nursery 3rd Day after the day God created earth and plants. He made it his mission to find the coolest plants to grow on the farm. Most landscapers go with what is on trend when dealing with plants. Derek has a slightly different mentality. He believes that different is good. It is what keeps you ahead of the game, and I truly believe that 3rd Day has that leg up on the other Maui competition; the amount of unique plants rarely seen is mind blowing. Just working there for three months you can tell how passionate Derek is about the nursery and the work he is doing.
By enrolling with the WWOOF program Derek had the opportunity to enlist people from all over who wanted to learn about plants and assist in growing his dream. The temporary farmers are the ones who keep the place up and rolling. During my time at 3rd Day I learned something new everyday. The first few weeks I was learning about the plants we were working with; from how to fertilize them to how to propagate the plants. It is miraculous how easy it is to produce more succulents. I always assumed that one needed to plant a completely new seed, but in reality all you have to do is cut a bit off the plant and stick it in some soil. It amazing how quickly nature can regenerate something so beautiful. I came to realize on the nursery that at times the work was a nuisance and tiresome, yet in the end it created something wonderful. Derek is meticulous about all the little details of the process because he truly loves each plant on his property. I know that with the help of future WWOOFers Derek will continue to find success in the succulent business on Maui. With the unique types of plants and incredibly unreal location, 3rd Day Nursery is setting up to be one of the best in Maui.