Find out what’s “bugging” your garden plant and how to attract pollinating bees. Sample and purchase locally made products like honey, mamaki, beef jerky and ‘ulu (breadfruit) hummus. Watch poi being pounded and learn about the latest agricultural research happening on our island. Meet the agencies and organizations that can help you start farming.
All this and more—including a 4-H livestock display—can be enjoyed at the free daytime agriculture festival as part of Taste of the Hawaiian Range. Time is 9 a.m-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29 at the YMCA Minuke Ole Park behind Parker Ranch Center in Waimea. The outdoor inaugural event will also offer sales of food and drink. Indoor educational presentations—including an invasive species exhibit– will run concurrently at the adjacent Mana Christian ‘Ohana classroom complex.
Bring Your Plant to the Doctor
Get the scoop on what’s bugging your plants at the East Hawai‘i Master Gardener booth located under Taste’s big exhibit tent. Plant, insect and disease diagnosis will be done with the naked eye and with a microscope with a monitor. Master gardener volunteers have completed a 12-week, 40-hour course on topics relating to Hawai‘i gardening and agriculture.
Attendees wishing to get a diagnosis should bring in their sample in a Ziplock bag and any carried insect should have been in the freezer overnight. Volunteers can identify thrips, fire ants and other insects. For more info on the local master gardener’s program, an offering of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa’s College of tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH-CTAHR), visit https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/uhmg/.
It’s a Veggie and a Fruit!
Versatile and full of flavor, ‘ulu or breadfruit is now commercially available year-round thanks to the 40-member Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Cooperative headquartered in Honalo-Kona. Founded in August 2016, the co-op will have a vendor booth during Taste to sample and sell its tasty varieties of breadfruit hummus and mousse.
In addition to these ready-to-eat products, the co-op provides fresh or processed—as steamed- frozen—‘ulu for the culinary industry. Depending on the degree of ripeness, ‘ulu can be used as a firm and starchy veggie or as a soft and sweet banana. The co-op also offers a Baby Ulu product that can be cooked and marinated like an artichoke heart.
As harvest volume increases, the co-op hopes to sell frozen ‘ulu in local grocery stores. The goal is to have the one-pound bags in your favorite freezer section by late 2019. According to manager Dana Shapiro, a USDA farm grant is helping the co-op supply statewide public schools with ‘ulu this October. “The grant also has an educational component allowing us to develop recipes for local food service directors and to work with school garden teachers to develop curriculum materials and student tours,” Shapiro details.
Help Your Garden by Attracting Bees
Pollination is key for a productive garden and blooming flowers. Dr. Chrissy Mogren, assistant researcher of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences at UH Manoa-CTAHR, will show attendees how to attract bees during Taste’s daytime agriculture fest.
According to Dr. Mogren, there are two types of bees: social bees, which live in colonies, such as honey bees, and solitary bees. The more passive, solitary bee makes her own nest and provisions it with pollen. In Hawai‘i, solitary bees are found at elevations below 1,500 feet.
The educational booth will offer handouts on how to construct an easy-to-make bee “hotel” for solitary bees close to where you need plants pollinated. It could be as simple as drilling holes into a fallen and discarded branch and as complicated as building and decorating an artsy box that resembles a fancy resort. The booth will also have info on native and non-native insectary plants that attract beneficial insects to the garden. Dr. Mogren will display specimens of honey bee life cycles and samples of bee houses.
Watch poi being pounded, enjoy samples and purchase poi and sweet kulolo— a caramelized taro and coconut cream dessert—at the King LauLau Brand Poi booth at this year’s Taste. Owned and operated for over 20 years by Jim and Gretchen Cain, King LauLau processes Waipi’o Valley-grown poi for the Big Island community.
The Cains farm their taro in Waipi‘o Valley, where they have their home, and process it every Thursday in Honoka‘a town. The fresh poi is sold for $5 a pound at a variety of island wide outlets: the Kai Store behind Puainako KTA in Hilo, the Hilo Farmers Market, Poke to Your Taste in Hilo, Mt. View Propane & Café and Handsome Donnie’s truck stand in Kainaliu on Fridays. King LauLau Brand Poi also graces the lu‘au and buffets at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel and the Royal Kona Resort.
“The reason we got into farming taro is we wanted to connect and live in Waipio and growing taro is the root of Waipi‘o,” shares Jim. “We are fortunate to be able to do that and make a living. We followed a blueprint from other farmers and opened a processing arm of the business and now also process taro from others.”
Jim adds, “We’ve learned from Waipi‘o kupuna that if you take care of the land, it will take care of you and the land will be better for the next person. People have been farming taro in Waipio for centuries.”
Need Farm Aid—Who Ya Gonna Call?
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) serves farmers, ranchers and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs. Stop by the FSA educational booth to visit with staff from the Hawai‘i County office to learn more about its programs and loans.
The agency offers producers a strong safety net through the administration of farm commodity and disaster programs. FSA continues to conserve natural resources and provides credit to agricultural producers who are unable to receive private, commercial credit—including special emphasis on beginning, underserved and women farmers and ranchers.
FSA’s disaster assistance programs have helped many Hawai‘i producers with recovery efforts following natural disasters. Learn more about protecting non-insurable crops before disasters strike.
Take time to visit with FSA’s farm loan team. FSA has a variety of loans to fit agricultural needs, including farm ownership and operating loans. The agency offers Microloans, which serve the unique financial operating needs of new, niche and small-to-mid-sized family farm operations. Microloans offer more flexible access to credit and feature a simpler application process. FSA also offers Youth Loans of up to $5,000 to individuals aged 10 to 20 to finance income-producing, agriculture projects through programs like 4-H.