Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative
Photo: 2010 harvest of “seed potatoes” at Kawanui Farm in Honalo, Hawai‘i. Photo by Nancy Redfeather.
Over the past 110 years, 95% of the open-pollinated vegetable/fruit/herb varieties that were grown in home gardens and small farms in 1900 have become extinct. Seed is the foundation of food production. Many of our market farmers and gardeners are interested in relearning how to grow, select, harvest, store, and improve seed varieties that will thrive on farms and in gardens across Hawai‘i. —Nancy Redfeather, The Kohala Center
This fall, The Kohala Center (TKC) will launch a statewide Public Seed Initiative in Hawai‘i. The initiative will consist of workshops on each of the five main Hawaiian Islands, with two workshops scheduled on each island over the course of the next two years. The goals of the project are to increase the community’s knowledge of and practical experience with seed production. The first round of workshops will focus on introductory seed biology and on how to grow, harvest, and save varieties of lettuce and a wet seeded crop. Two-day workshops will include both lecture presentations and hands-on fieldwork at demonstration farms, so participants can practice harvesting, cleaning, and storing fresh seed. Strategies to account for differences in elevation, weather patterns, and rainfall will be discussed. One of the future goals of the Public Seed Initiative is to work with island organizations to develop an island seed bank for gardeners and farmers. Read more about TKC’s Seed Team on the Back Page.
Staking a Claim in the Food System
Photo: Hikiola Agriculture Supply Co-op on Moloka‘i has been helping farmers and gardeners access what they need at affordable prices since 1976.
Awareness has grown in Hawai‘i that we need to rebuild our local food system in order to ensure our islands’ food security, to improve the freshness and nutrition of the foods we consume, and to create a more resilient rural economy. In order for Hawai‘i’s residents to eat locally, our farmers and fishermen need to have support in place to farm and fish, and we need to develop the infrastructure to move raw products from our local farms and fisheries to our tables and plates.
Food typically needs to be cleaned, processed, distributed, and marketed before a consumer can take it home to cook and eat. Farmers need access to land, water, and capital, as well as to processing and marketing assistance. Fishermen need ocean access, fuel, equipment, ice, a place to process their catch, and a consistent local market.
Cooperatives can help to fill the puka (gaps) in our food system and provide necessary support to Hawai‘i’s farmers and fisherman. Farmers can get together to purchase supplies at a cheaper rate, or to share heavy equipment or processing facilities. They can pool their products to market under a single brand and thus offer a consistent supply which might otherwise be difficult for a single farmer to achieve. Cooperatives allow farmers to cut out some of the middlemen (and thereby increase their profit margins) and to own their own businesses. Cultivating more successful farmers and more successful small businesses can help to create a more vibrant rural economy in Hawai‘i.
The Laulima Center, Hawai‘i’s first cooperative business development center, has served more than 50 groups so far this year, many of whom have cooperative project ideas to enhance our local food system. Learn more about these ventures on the Back Page.
Making Change Visible
Photo: Kohala Watershed Partnership (KWP) volunteers from all walks of life pause to take a group photo after planting nearly 200 trees in the Koai‘a Corridor.
As you drive into Waimea along Highway 190 (the upper road from Kailua-Kona), you can see the strip of land between two streams that KWP is working to reforest. The changes that are now taking place in the wet forest are in areas that are invisible from the road.
We have been doing joint KWP projects since 2007, so for nearly five years now. There is almost a sigh of relief from the native plants in areas where we have removed feral animals. The understory plants are starting to fill in the bare ground, or are beginning to emerge from beneath the dense carpet of alien grasses. It is a slow process, but steadily the forest will recover into a healthy functioning state. It is hard to predict when we will begin to see the results of mauka (upland) reforestation on ocean water quality. . . we are probably looking at decades before we see changes in Pelekane Bay. —Melora Purell, Coordinator of Kohala Watershed Partnership
To see for yourself what is happening in the forest, Purell encourages you to join KWP at one of their upcoming volunteer work days. “Even one trip as a volunteer will open your eyes to the world of native Hawaiian forest,” she says.
More than 300 individuals have volunteered their time with the Kohala Watershed Partnership (KWP) during the past few years. These volunteers range from 3-year olds who carry the pots of native plants for their parents to install, to college students, to seniors who humble the younger folks with their dedication and strength. The best way to help is to “volunteer your time,” says Purell. Visit http://www.kohalawatershed.org (coming soon!) to learn more about upcoming volunteer opportunities.
Read more about some of the amazing plants and animals that are found "Only in Kohala" on the Back Page.
Keauhou Bird Conservation Center and Kipuka Puaulu with Jack Jeffrey
Photo: An ‘alalā at KBCC. Photo by Jack Jeffrey.
With Jack Jeffrey and KBCC Staff as your guides, see and learn about the native Hawaiian birds that the facility houses. Participants will see some of the last remaining ‘alalā, or Hawaiian crows, which are critically endangered and extinct in the wild; Maui parrotbills, insectivorous Hawaiian honeycreepers; palila, finch-billed honeycreepers only found on the slopes of Mauna Kea; nēnē or Hawaiian geese; and puaiohi or small Kaua‘i thrushes.
Join us at this special learning event on Saturday, September 17, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Learn more and reserve your place now! (See http://www.kohalacenter.org/TKCMemberEvents11/kbcc.html.)
Our learning events are designed for The Kohala Center’s Circle of Friends, as a way to say “mahalo” and as a way to connect our Friends with one another, with cultural, agricultural, and scientific experts, and with Hawai‘i Island’s natural, cultural, and spiritual landscapes. The cost for these learning events is $50 per excursion for current Friends.
Second Annual Lawai‘a ‘Ohana Camp
“A Sustainable Fish Camp for Families”
Photo: Lawai‘a Ohana Camp participants pose for a group photo during the Catch and Release Fishing Derby. Photo by Erica Perez, TKC.
It has always been our goal to empower families with knowledge and skills to fish responsibly and provide food for their ‘ohana. —Cindi Punihaole, The Kohala Center
From July 6–9, the second Lawai‘a ‘Ohana Camp was held at the Ka‘ūpūlehu Interpretive Center at Kalaemano, a historic fishing area within the ahupua‘a of Ka‘ūpūlehu. Families from around the island, including 13 keiki (children), learned about sustainable approaches to preserving and managing Hawai‘i’s marine life through in-class and hands-on training experiences. Campers learned how to make and use a throw-net, prepare and rig a bamboo pole, identify fish, monitor water quality and care for our coral reef, and clean and cook fish. Participants also learned the traditional skill of basket weaving and storing freshly caught fish in handwoven baskets in order to preserve their freshness. All participants were introduced to mauka-makai (mountain to sea) resource relationships and management principles.
Read "To Fish Wisely" on the Back Page.
Place-Based Environmental Education
Photo: One of the ecosystems that HI-SEES students can study: Hilo Bay.
This seems like a perfect opportunity for my classes to get hands-on experience outdoors learning about plants and animals in Hawai‘i. Last year was my first year teaching science in high school, and I arranged one field trip that was a huge success. Sadly, some seniors said it was the first (only) field trip they had while in high school. —Charlotte Godfrey-Rome, Hilo High School
Classroom teachers throughout West Hawai‘i have been invited to apply for The Kohala Center’s 2011–2012 HI-SEES (Hawai‘i Island Science-based Environmental Education for Students) Program. As of the enrollment deadline of September 2, the program was fully subscribed and will serve approximately 250 middle and high school students around the island. HI-SEES aims to support Hawai‘i Island teachers to engage students in science-based and place-based environmental education. HI-SEES participants learn about, visit, and undertake scientific research in a culturally significant and valued ahupua‘a near their home. Students have the opportunity to conduct hands-on research within one of four ahupua‘a around the island: Kohala Mountain, Kahalu‘u Bay in Kona, Ka‘ūpūlehu Dry Forest, or Hilo Bay.
Read more about HI-SEES on the Back Page.
Leaders in Caring for the Earth
Photo: UCSD students say “mahalo” to Uncle John Keolanui, who prepared a lu‘au style feast for them on the final evening.
From July 7–14, twenty-two students and five staff members from the University of California at San Diego joined The Kohala Center for the first Alaka‘i i ka Mālama Honua program. Together these students began a week-long adventure to learn how to become “Leaders in Caring for the Earth.” The group participated in learning activities at several different sites around the island and conducted service work in an endangered dryland forest.
“It was truly amazing to hear what they took away from their experience and the change it created within them,” says TKC’s Expeditionary Learning Coordinator, Erica Perez. “The students departed with a sense of community awareness that only this kind of experience can give them.”
Learn more about their week-long adventure on the Back Page.
A Gift of Time
Photo: Volunteers weeding at Mala‘ai: the Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School.
A gift of time is one of the most meaningful acts of service. Even a small amount of time is well received in a school garden. —Donna Mitts, East Hawai‘i Coordinator, Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network
As a new school year begins, several of our Garden Teachers based at schools around the island have contacted us to invite community members to consider volunteering at their sites. “Having volunteers lend a hand with classes in the garden makes a huge difference,” explains Donna Mitts, who coordinates the Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network in East Hawai‘i. “Volunteers make it possible to break up students into smaller groups so they get to do things with more oversight. My volunteers almost always have meaningful interactions with students, and the kids love it, too,” says Mitts.
Learn more about current volunteer opportunities on the Back Page.
Photo: Seed saved from Kawanui Farm in Honalo, Hawai‘i.
Island farmers and gardeners who save seed are invited to attend the annual West Hawai‘i Seed Exchange on Saturday, November 5, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook. The event coincides with the Garden's annual Arbor Day Plant Give-Away. Farmers and gardeners are invited to bring saved seed, cuttings, huli (taro tops), and corms of food crops that grow well in our home gardens and on our farms. Please name the varieties that you are bringing, if known, and bring envelopes to gather seed from others. The goal of this yearly gathering is to network seed amongst home gardeners and local farmers.
“Coming together to share our knowledge and varieties will encourage home production and food security for West Hawai‘i,” says Lyn Howe of The Kohala Center. “If you have not yet started a home garden, please come and talk story with experienced gardeners about locally adapted varieties you can grow to feed your family,” she says.
For more information on this event, please contact Diana Duff at email@example.com.
Read Diana Duff’s West Hawaii Today story, "Saving seed as a sustainable practice,” at http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/sections/news/local-features/duff-saving-seed-sustainable-practice.html.
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