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Building local, sustainable food communities on Hawai'i Island
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There’s a beautiful trio playing in the woods. It's a native trio that has been here a long time. The players are the māmaki shrub (Pipturus albidus), the koa tree (Acacia koa), and the Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea), or pulelehua. If you have the right conditions, you can invite them to your garden, especially to encourage the pulelehua, whose numbers are diminishing, to thrive on the islands again.
For many local folks, chile pepper water is an indispensable addition to a great local feast, and can add pizazz to meat, fish, and soup dishes. There are many variations of this condiment combining water, shoyu, different kinds of vinegar, and even garlic with lots of chiles.
Below is a letter I wrote to a Hawaiian homesteader several years ago. He was interested in farming, but for some reason he had a difficult time understanding what he needed to do in order to create a farm business, and also wasn’t realistic about his goals. He was looking for solutions such as setting up a farm to teach others how to farm without having a basic knowledge of farming, or networking with others to get his farm started when he didn’t have any production.
The coconut, niu, is a uniquely life-giving tree for humans, a mainstay if you live near a tropical coast. It produces the only seed that we can open to drink vital water, eat nourishing nut-meat, and even make healthy oil. The coconut palm’s fronds, trunk, and fruit all have many uses. “Every part of the plant plays its role in the Polynesian lifestyle,” says Momi Subiono, a Hawaiian ethnobotany educator from Kona.
Kokoleka Lani Farms, at 1200 foot elevation in the Keauhou mauka area of Kona, is a 12-year-old cacao and coffee farm owned by Greg Colden.
The 5-acre farm sits on what is known in the area as Tanaka Hill, the highest elevation of what not long ago was the Tanaka Blue Rock Quarry. Greg currently has about three-and-a-half acres under cultivation.
A half-day chockfull of ‘ulu workshop was held on the morning of May 10th, at the Ho’oulu Lahui site of the Kua O Ka La Public Charter School at Pu’ala’a, located next to the ‘Ahalanui County Park warm ponds in Puna.
The presentations were aimed at backyard and commercial growers, entrepreneurs, chefs and home consumers.