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Tropical Edibles Nursery

TEN-GreenhouseCElevitchNursery at Tropical Edibles Nursery in Captain Cook.Tropical Edibles Nursery is almost hidden as you drive down Mamalahoa Highway south of Captain Cook. Located just south of mile marker 108 on the mauka side of the road, it is an impressive little oasis of calm beside the busy highway below.

The 1200 foot elevation, one-acre property, owned by Kamehameha Schools, had been leased for many years to a Japanese meditation group which did most of the original landscaping, along with planting a rock garden and building steps for the steep slopes of their "Meditation Garden".

Some time ago that group let their lease go and the garden was left unattended for several years. Emmerich Grosch of the Captain Cook Trading Company bought the lease with the intention of bringing back and expanding the garden and building a community center where demonstrations of his equipment as well as other classes and community events could be held. He collaborated with manager Diana Duff to help fulfill his vision.

In March of 2012, Diana and caretaker Eugene Elmer, along with Dale Sugai, Raven Bolas, Maggie McDermott, Wanda Carey, and Momi Subiono, all very knowledgeable plant lovers, turned the meditative garden location into a bountiful edible plant nursery. Here, edibles of all kinds along with medicinal and cultural plants, and a few 'food for the soul' ornamentals, are grown and sold.

The herb garden behind the beautiful bamboo and Ohi'a gate is a new addition. Visitors are encouraged to 'taste' as they walk through the garden. Some edible plants such as sweet potatoes, peppers, daylilies and others were added to the Meditation Garden. A greenhouse with a misting system was built where plants are propagated, and there is a bench by the driveway where nursery plants for sale are displayed.

TEN-DianaDuff2Nursery manager and well-known tropical edibles expert Diana Duff.Besides the herb and vegetable starter plants for sale, the nursery also offers low-chill fruit trees such as apples, peaches, pears, persimmon, blueberry bushes and strawberry plants, as well as several varieties of citrus, mango, avocado and breadfruit -- plus unusual medicinal, cultural herbs and other plants.

Although the nursery is not certified organic, the staff members practice organic methods and use organic seeds. No pesticides or chemical herbicides are used, only organic fertilizers and worm compost tea are added to the plants.

The nursery's multi-level main building is home to the caretaker as well as having office space, a place for community events and classes, a drying deck for coffee beans, and a gift shop. In addition, there is a demonstration room where homegrown food-processing equipment is on display. It includes coffee roasters, macadamia nut crackers, fruit presses, sugar cane juicers and a special mixer used for conching and refining chocolate. Much of this equipment is scaled for the small farmer, and is available from the Captain Cook Trading Company.

The gift shop sells locally made value added products, relevant books, posters, gardening tools and seeds. Neighbor farmers are encouraged to bring in their excess produce to be sold at the nursery. Please call to make an appointment if interested in placing your products or produce for sale at the nursery.

By the time you read this report, the nursery will have sponsored their first Seed Exchange for South Kona, which Diana hopes will become a yearly event.

Classes and demonstrations offered in the past have been well received; Chocolate Making was so popular it will be held again in the near future. Other past classes were Cooking with Lavender, Wine Making from Tropical Fruit, Making Mead (alcoholic drink made with Honey), Healing Herbs, Oil Infusions, Herb Tea Infusions, Cooking with Edible Flowers and Worm Composting. A class being offered in August will be on the Bokashi Organic Composting System.

Advertising is done mainly through their monthly newsletter, which you can receive by e-mailing or calling the nursery; by flyers, website, and their Facebook page.

Tropical Edible Nursery
Open Monday through Saturday – 10 am to 4 pm
83-5696 Mamalahoa Highway (mauka) just south of MM 108
e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website www.tropicaledibles.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/348896218491507/?fref=ts

Sonia R. Martinez, the Hawai'i Homegrown Food Network regular farmers market reporter, is a cookbook author and freelance food writer for several publications in Hawai'i, including The Hamakua Times of Honoka'a. She is a regular contributor to Ke Ola Magazine; and has her own food & garden blog at Sonia Tastes Hawaii.

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