Tenants @ Common Ground
Melia of Meli Wraps, producing high-quality and reusable Hawaiian beeswax wraps, has been a CG campus tenant for nearly two years. “Common ground has a very special vibe. From the beautiful location to the tight community of the Common Ground team and other small businesses it truly feels like family,” says Melia. “On Kaua’i there are not very many places to produce products, especially on the North Shore, so to have the space to do this as a small local business, we feel so honored!”
Melia also appreciates the history of the property. As a child, she would visit when the campus was the Guava Kai Plantation.
Common Ground honors the long history of the land and surrounding communities as we continue to explore how the property can benefit local small businesses of the future.
“Driving up to work in the early mornings is my favorite. The mist hangs low near the mountains and everything is crisp and cool and vibrant. It just feels magical. Sunsets are also amazing to watch up there. Sometimes we eat lunch under the lychee tree and talk about how beautiful and special the property is,” says Melia.
Kanoa from Noho Workshop is an Architect in Residence at CG since March 2021, primarily focused on residential work but also involved with the planning and design of future improvements to the campus.
When asked what sets the campus apart, Kanoa notes with amusement that neighboring tenants include cows, chickens, and nene goose. “The rural setting is something we embrace in our work and the program and campus functions of CG really resonate with that. There is also a great sense of community and family amongst those working and residing here.”
For Kanoa, “Finding common ground means finding connections and intersections. Past to Present. Culture to Culture. People to People. Idea to Idea.” Common ground is found on the CG campus.
Gida of Slow Island Co., a graduate of the Common Ground Accelerator program and Good Foods Award winner has taken on a new endeavor: chickens. Next Wave Island Poultry purchased an existing small poultry business on campus in March of 2022. The laying hens and meat birds are raised in the fields situated at the entrance of the property.
Gida says the campus is, “located in a spectacular setting and being there has the ability to reset your whole mood.”
“Following our first chicken harvest, we hosted a gathering for Common Ground and the Next Wave staff. Enjoying our delicious and super fresh fried chicken on the lanai with the evening light streaming in is how I'd like to spend every evening!” says Gida.
She believes that finding common ground means bridging the gap between farmers and producers and consumers. In this way, the hard work and dedication required to create amazing food are understood by the end user.
“By coming to Common Ground for an evening event or farm tour, a person will get a chance to make this connection firsthand,” she notes.
Cait from Cultivate Curious had been working as a photographer for Common Ground for three years, helping to capture events, campus impressions, food, and local products. As of April of 2022, she is also the renter of studio space to expand her work in ceramics. She focuses mostly on functionality, pieces used for dinnerware, plant pots and home goods which represent a meaningful way to synergize food and art.
“I was previously working from a small home studio which was pretty limited in workspace and resources. I did not have access to a kiln and wedged clay on my lanai with pieces of repurposed plywood,” says Cait. “Expanding to the space at Common Ground has allowed me to grow notably in just a few months with a now fully functional workspace and a platform to start a business focused on sustainable goods. Working on campus so closely intertwined with nature has been a particularly special way to hone creativity and bring meaning to this craft.”
Cait notes that walking to the Stone Dam on campus at sunset while the sky is on fire and birds are chirping, surrounded by lush greenery is one of her favorite experiences in the space.
She has also had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, some of which have come to work and learn about the CG Argoforest, each bringing experiences and diversifying character to campus.
“If you asked my dog Roamie, she would tell you that frolicking through the fields and chasing off pigs is at the top of her favorites list,” says Cait.