On Saturday, Deb and i made the long trip to Honalo (mid-Kona coast) to attend a morning tour of a mini-farm. The event was called Eat your way to sustainability:
“See a real life model of organic sustainable home food production, value added products, and income crops. Includes tour of vegetable gardens, coffee orchard of 12 varieties, and fruit/nut/spice orchards, coffee tasting from our many varieties, home juice production and tasting, and seed packets from our very own seed saving to get started!”
It was indeed a great visit, all that and more. (I did have to grapple with the irony of 4 hours of gasoline driving for a 3 hour class on sustainability.) It is just 1.2 acres, yet intensive enough to produce a lot. The house is at the top of the land, with a view looking down on the top half of the farm area:
Here we are getting a tour of the intensive ‘test garden’, where seeds are grown and varieties are tried. The compost was interesting, done in-place right on the bed. They do not use any manure inputs, it is not hot, but a ‘cold pile’ composting which is still plenty fast enough in a tropical climate:
I absorbed several hours of fascinating information about how various vegetables and fruits can be efficiently grown in that specific climate – Kona at 1400′ elevation – some of which hopefully also applies to us – Hamakua at 2600′. Most of their crops certainly grow faster and larger, big eggplants, giant beets! I don’t know how much of that is due to elevation. And they had a lot of crops growing out in the open (peppers, squash, tomatoes!) which we could never do, fruit fly would get them.
Nancy served us some cornbread which was, incredibly, corn she grew and ground herself:
I must underscore how rare and precious this was, given that Hawai’i grows basically no grains or legumes.
One of their fascinating crops was the Mysore Raspberry. There are no berry crops that do well enough in Hawai’i to produce abundantly, but this one is apparently good for a tropical environment:
There’s way too much to relate from our tour – the interesting greenhouse practices, the best coffee i’ve ever tasted – it would take a whole book or website. Overall, i was both inspired that so much was possible, yet also frustrated that our own attempts to grow food have been so much more work-intensive and less productive. When so much is specific to location and climate, i might spend decades just trying to figure out how to get high productivity out of my Hamakua land. I guess i can just forge ahead and improve gradually.
This entry (Permalink) was posted on Monday, May 14th, 2007 at 2:22 pm and is filed under crops, food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response , or trackback from your own site.