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Many Ways to Grow: Waimea Garden Tour

Written by Amanda Rieux on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 12:09.

 S7B4110-CElevitch2Waimea, known for ranching and farming, is an upland community poised on the saddle between the Kohala Mountains to the north and Mauna Kea to the south. Wind is a constant companion in the Waimea area, but rainfall, elevation and soils are quite varied.On Saturday May 18, Māla'ai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School hosted "Home Garden Tour of Waimea from the Wet Side to the Dry Side." The aim was to show people good examples of the diverse ways we can grow food in our home gardens in the distinctly different environments around Waimea. Our group met up at the Waimea Middle School garden and got examples of critical factors to look for in any garden. Folks on the tour were encouraged to look for several things besides elevation and annual rainfall, including inherent strengths and challenges at each site, as well as soil fertility strategies and how much care each garden requires on a daily basis. We then visited three gardens, examples of interspecies systems, intensive food growing, and permaculture techniques for gardening on very dry land.

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Award winning chocolate by Madre Chocolate

Written by Craig Elevitch and Ken Love on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 00:00.

NDchocMaking7enhancedcopyMadre Chocolate cofounders Nat Bletter (left) and David Elliot (right) demonstrate the art of chocolate making in one of their classes.With several national and international awards won in 2012, Madre Chocolate has earned its self-ascribed tagline, “Hawai‘i’s best bean-to-bar chocolate.” Cofounder Nat Bletter sums up the company’s business philosophy as, “Hawai‘i-made chocolate will never be competitive on quantity or price, so our primary focus is on quality and originality.” As an ethnobotanist (one who studies the complex relationships between plants and people), Bletter first started making chocolate on a dare from a friend to put his academic knowledge into practice. His initial experiments were enthusiastically received by friends, family and colleagues, inspiring him to continue professionally. Now Nat’s official title is “Chocolate Flavormeister” for the company, with cofounder David Elliot taking on the role of production manager. Both Bletter and Elliot had long experience in Mexico and Central America before putting down roots in Hawai‘i. This bicultural context explains the company’s two distinct lines of bar chocolate, “Xocolatl,” incorporating Mexican flavors and inspired by traditional chocolates of Central and South America, and “Kokoleka,” made from Hawai‘i grown cacao and incorporating a distinctly Hawaiian flavor palette. In addition to these two regular lines, the company makes limited edition flavors, as ingredient availability and creative whim allow.

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Hilo Grown Tours

Written by SoniaR. Martinez on Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:49.

HATA-HSCF-Tomatoesintrays2-beefsteaks4XTray of tomatoes packed and ready for shipping from Hamakua Springs.Earlier this month I was fortunate to be able to participate in a "preview" of an agricultural adventure tour on the Hilo side of Hawai'i Island. The Hilo Grown Tours, which start in June, are supported by the Hawai'i AgriTourism Association (HATA), the County of Hawai'i and the Hawai'i Tourism Authority.

Our group met in the lobby of the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel where we were greeted by Lani Weigert, HATA Executive Director, and Benson Medina, who served as our guides for the day.

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Hamakua Heritage Mushrooms Farm: Janice and Bob Stanger

Written by Sonia R. Martinez on Monday, 29 April 2013 07:48.

Aliimushrooms5Aliʻi mushrooms growing at Hamakua Heritage Mushroom Farm.Thirteen years ago, Bob and Janice Stanga bought property in the Laupahoehoe area of Hawai'i Island with the idea of creating a niche food for island chefs raising either mushrooms or edible snails. Mushrooms won and The Hamakua Heritage Mushroom Farm became a reality.

The enterprise started small and eventually grew to fill a 16,000 square-foot production building that houses their own sterile tissue culture laboratory, incubation rooms and six indoor growing rooms. The facility is equipped with automated specialty mushroom cultivation equipment and climate control installations, and is where they produce a variety of mushroom species of exceptional quality.

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Take your time to develop new products: Desmond Twigg-Smith

Written by Craig Elevitch on Monday, 29 April 2013 00:00.

 MG 9544Desmond Twigg-Smith rakes coffee parchment at his processing facility, which is open to the public.Desmond Twigg-Smith of Holualoa Kona Coffee Company grows certified organic coffee and processes from ripe beans through to roasted coffee for sale at his on-farm retail outlet. “We have control of all stages of production, which means we can maintain quality. It is very fulfilling to take our coffee all the way to a final product,” explains Twigg-Smith when reflecting on the wet and dry milling and roasting facilities he has developed over the years. For him, producing products that he can take pride in is much more than earning a living, it’s a lifestyle that gives satisfaction beyond what money can provide.