Coffee farmer Kim Johnson, above, poses as Miss April in the 2009 calendar, "The Naked Truth about 100% Kona Coffee," as part of an effort to raise awareness for the Kona Coffee Farmers Association. Johnson owns and operates the "Long Mountain 100% Kona Coffee" farm in Honaunau.
Farmer-models tell ‘naked truth’
Eleven over-50 female farmers have nothing to hide when it comes to showing their love for the Kona coffee bean by posing nude in a 2009 calendar.
The 11 members of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association felt they "needed to do something drastic" to protect the Kona brand name, said Cea Smith, who is "Miss May."
Patterned after a fundraising idea in England made into the movie "Calendar Girls," their calendar is named "The Naked Truth about 100% Kona Coffee."
Despite their age, the women are getting many compliments, though the calendar "suggests everything but reveals nothing," said Mary Lou Moss, who initiated the project.
Deb Sims helps model Jenine Boido pose.
The first 1,000 calendars sold quickly, and a second printing is being ordered, she said.
The farmer-models want to catch the attention of lawmakers to pass legislation requiring coffee labeled "Kona" be at least 75 percent grown on the western side of the Big Island.
Moss said the farmers association is incensed that foreign coffee blends brand themselves with the gourmet Kona name when they can use as little as 10 percent of the local coffee in their mix -- as allowed by law. Kona coffee is getting a bad name because of this misrepresentation, Moss added. The women, who range from their mid-50s to 72, aren't trying to compete with young pin-up models, said Smith, who runs Smithfarms Pure Kona with husband Bob.
The only time Smith wants to peel off her clothes is to take a shower after a long day in the fields, when she's covered with sweat, dirt and mosquito bites, she added.
"We all do the work out there. We're not fake farmers. We don't have beautiful nails. We're not wearing earrings (as in the photos). When you're out there, you become a feminist.
"After hours and hours and hours of picking, you feel very strong unto yourself ... I'm very proud of my strength, going out (to work) the next day and the next. And you know you can do it," said Smith.
Now her husband is always singing, "I love, I love, I love my calendar girl," to her all the time, "and I just get redder (blushing)," Smith added.
The women were naturally self-conscious about revealing wrinkles and cellulite, but they became less inhibited with a little champagne and reminders from Moss that "It's not about us, it's for the coffee."
Having a female photographer made it easier, and Susan Dabritz of SeaPics.com was so professional they all relaxed, Smith said.
Mary Lou's husband, Chuck Moss, said he heard a lot of "nervous giggling" when he was "locked up in the downstairs office with the shades pulled" while the women were posing on their Cuppa Kona farm.
Laughing, he said, "At first I thought it was par for the course. She's very energetic and makes things happen. But it's tastefully done and I think it was a good idea."
The calendar, which sells for $12, is available at www.konacoffeefarmers.org.