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Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance Offers United Voice on Bishop Museums Announcement to Sell Its Waipi‘o Valley Lands

On January 8, 2016, Bishop Museum issued a public announcement they are moving forward with the sale of the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Capt. Cook and 537 acres of land in Waipi‘o Valley.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

While the news has taken most of Hawai‘i by surprise, it is not the case for the Waipi‘o Valley community. Over the past 20 years, the Museum has periodically considered selling it’s Valley holdings, and there have been several proposals by State legislators for the state to purchase the lands, the most recent in 2014.

Since 2013, the Waipi‘o community has undergone major changes, with three of the most committed groups becoming more organized and actively seeking ways to work together collaboratively on matters that impact the Valley and surrounding communities.

In late 2015 the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association, the Waipi‘o Community Circle and Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley formed the Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance as a mechanism to reach general consensus and provide a unified voice when communicating with government officials, Bishop Museum and the general community.

Founded in 1989, the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association (WTFA) is the oldest active organization in Waipi‘o Valley. The Association is made up of generational taro farming families who lease the majority of Bishop Museum ’s lands in the Valley. WTFA represents the surviving edge of the Native Hawaiian culture in Waipi‘o Valley and serves as Bishop Museum ’s primary land managers and local community advisors.

Formed in 2000, at the request of 13 community members, the Waipi‘o Community Circle (the Circle), serves as a general community forum. The Waipi‘o Valley Information & Education Officer Program was created by the Circle, as were the five large interpretive signs at the rock wall near the pavilion. A small group of Circle volunteers provided general oversight of the Information & Education Officer program from 2007 until 2014 when the program moved to the Department of Parks & Recreation. This group also represents the efforts of Auntie Ku’ulei Badua who was responsible for initiating “Friends of the Waipi‘o Community Park ” (the former Rice/Thomas property, at the Waipi’o lookout).

Founded in 2014 Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley (Ha Ola) is a membership organization of Valley residents, farmers, cultural educators and practitioners, and Waipi‘o tour operators. The organization is guided by elected Officers with support from the County of Hawaii , the State of Hawaii , Kamehameha Schools and Friends of the Future. Ha Ola was formed to provide representation for Valley stakeholders who were not recognized in the State’s 2013 proposed Senate Bill to purchase Bishop Museum’s lands in Waipi‘o. Among Ha Ola’s current projects are River Maintenance in collaboration with WTFA, stewardship of Kamehameha Schools Valley beach parcels, eradication of Little Fire Ants in the Valley and a 2016 Kalo Festival.

The Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance, combines the strengths of all available community and advisory resources and is committed to protecting current lessees and ensuring the community has a lead voice in proactively engaging Bishop Museum in discussions about the future stewardship of its’ Waipi‘o Valley lands.

For more information about the Alliance contact:

Alliance Community Liaison: Jim Cain, Cell: 333-0457 kinglaulau@hotmail.com

Alliance Culture & Education Liaison: Ka‘iulani Pahio, Cell: 960-5272 kaiulani@kalo.org

Honolulu Selected for “Local Foods, Local Places” Federal Initiative

On behalf of the White House Rural Council, six federal agencies joined to announce 27 communities selected to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative that helps communities increase economic opportunities for local farmers and related businesses, create vibrant places, and promote childhood wellness by improving access to healthy local food.

Local Foods Local Places

“Local Foods, Local Places helps people access healthy local food and supports new businesses in neighborhoods that need investment,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The program is good for the environment, public health and the economy. By helping bring healthy local food to market and offering new walking and biking options, Local Foods, Local Places can help improve air quality, support local economies, and protect undeveloped green space.”

Honolulu was one of the cities selected in 2016 from EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region:

Honolulu, Hawaii – The Hawaii Community Development Authority will focus their Local Foods, Local Places efforts on plans to identify food-based projects that will spur greater investment and stewardship in the Kakaako Makai community; enhance local food production; integrate food security initiatives with community and transit-oriented development planning; and reduce stormwater runoff and vulnerability to sea level rise.

The selected communities were chosen from more than 300 applicants.

Each Local Foods, Local Places partner community works with a team of experts who help community members recognize local assets and opportunities, set goals for revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods, develop an implementation plan, and identify targeted resources from the participating federal agencies to help implement those plans.

Local Foods, Local Places is a partnership among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority. The initiative was launched in 2014 and has already helped 26 communities make a difference in people’s lives.

Local Food, Local Places is one of the administration’s community-based initiatives in action across the country. In these places federal experts are working side by side with residents and local leaders to create customized solutions; bolstering coordination across agencies and improving how we interact with communities as a ‘one Government’ partner; and relying on valuable data to help inform solutions and evaluate what is working and what is not.

A complete list of communities participating in the Local Food, Local Places Initiative can be found at http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/local-foods-local-places-summary-reports

Video – Aerial Survey of Big Island Forests Shows Rapid Ohia Death Spread

Recent aerial surveys of 810,000 acres of Hawaii Island forests showed that a fungal infestation of ohia trees is much greater than earlier thought.

ohia deathUsing a helicopter and specialized survey equipment, surveyors from a collaboration of state, county and federal agencies flew over 81,000 acres, January 11 – 15, 2016.  Satellite imagery of ohia forests in 2014 resulted in an estimate of 15,000 acres infected by this newly identified disease. The latest survey, pending ground verification, estimates the infection has now spread to some 34,000 acres of the ohia forest on the Big Island.

Rapid Ohia Death Media Clips 12-23-15 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Philipp LaHaela Walter, the State Resource and Survey Forester for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) said, “We used two surveyors at a time and flew a total of 8 ½ hours over state, federal and private lands covering about two-thirds of the Big Islands’s ohia forests. Our next steps are to cover the rest of the ohia forests with follow-up flights and to ground-truth the aerial operation. One of our priorities will be to double-check the Kohala area, where Rapid Ohia Death may have been detected for the first time by our aerial survey.”

A team of experts from DLNR/DOFAW, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, the Big Island Invasive Species Committee and the National Park Service/Hawaii Volcanoes National Park conducted the aerial survey. The University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service and the USDA Agricultural Research Service assisted with planning. In 2014 USDA researchers identified the pathogen that causes the disease.

Dr. Flint Hughes, with the USDA Forest Service commented, “Unfortunately Rapid Ohia Death is spreading much quicker than we had hoped.  The aerial surveyors noted ohia trees with no leaves or brown leaves, likely impacted by the disease; as well as ohia trees which have been dead for a longer time and those that have been affected by either drought or VOG. It’s important that we differentiate the causes of tree deaths and continue to carefully and closely monitor the spread of Rapid Ohia Death to aid in reducing its spread on Hawaii Island and around the state.”

Ohia forests cover approximately 865,000 acres of land across the state and are considered the primary species providing habitat for countless plants, animals and invertebrates. These forests  protect watersheds that provide significant agriculture and drinking water across the state.

“It’s sad but not unexpected that we have a confirmed case of Rapid Ohia Death in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We are very concerned about the impacts to our cherished ohia that thrives throughout the park, and we will continue to implement the stringent measures developed by our interagency partners to prevent the spread of this devastating disease. We will also continue to sample trees throughout the park,” Orlando said.

Dr. J.B. Friday, the extension forester with the UH College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources Cooperative Extension Service explained, “We know that the state Department of Agriculture’s moratorium on the transport and shipment of ohia plants and parts is having a positive effect on curbing the spread. It’s impossible to determine whether the ban on ohia shipping is 100% effective and that’s why we are trying to get the word out to all forest users, nurseries, and lei makers that Rapid Ohia Death is fast killing what is considered one of the most important forest trees in Hawaii.”

Research into treatments for the particular fungus that causes Rapid Ohia Death continues at the USDA Agricultural Research Service lab in Hilo. Investigation into how it spreads is also being conducted with potential culprits being: insects, underground via roots, on small wood or dust particles, on clothing and shoes, and possibly on animals. Ultimately scientists hope that by identifying what is spreading the fungus they’ll be able to mitigate its devastating impacts.

Kamehameha Schools and the Pauahi Foundation Announce the Return of Mahiʻai Match-Up

Kamehameha Schools and the Pauahi Foundation announce the return of Mahiʻai Match-Up – an agricultural business plan contest dedicated to supporting Hawaiʻi’s sustainable food movement and decreasing the state’s dependence on imports.  Mahiʻai means farmer.  The contest is open to all farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural entrepreneurs. The application window opens today and ends Feb. 29, 2016.

Pahoehoe Parcel

Pahoehoe Parcel

“Mahiʻai Match-Up provides a venue for farmers and entrepreneurs to access some of our most valuable agricultural lands,” said Sydney Keliʻipuleʻole, senior director of statewide operations for Kamehameha Schools. “Kamehameha Schools is engaged in an ongoing effort to work with community partners to find and nurture talented farmers with innovative ideas that will increase food production for Hawaiʻi’s market.”

The top two business plans will receive an agricultural land agreement with up to five years of waived rent from Kamehameha Schools and seed monies from the Pauahi Foundation totaling $35,000 to help increase the probability of long-term, sustainable success.

Ulupono Initiative – the Hawai’i-focused impact investing firm – is once again lending its support to the business plan contest.

“Ulupono Initiative is proud to continue its partnership with Kamehameha Schools and Pauahi Foundation to assist talented farmers in realizing their dream of establishing a bona fide agricultural business in Hawaiʻi,” said Murray Clay, managing partner of Ulupono Initiative. “The goal of Mahiʻai Match-Up directly aligns with our mission of making Hawaiʻi more self-sufficient by increasing local food production. The group of entrants from the first two years has been impressive, and we are excited to see what year three has in store.”

Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau’s “Hawaiʻi Food and Farm” magazine is also a sponsor of the contest.

This year the program provides more opportunities for aspiring farmers with the introduction of Mahiʻai Mentorship – a competition created through a partnership between the schools and GoFarm Hawaiʻi aimed at developing the next generation of farmers.

Four applicants will be chosen to receive funding from Pauahi Foundation and Kamehameha Schools to attend GoFarm Hawaiʻi, a program that turns the AgCurious into AgProducers. Valued at $3,000, participants are given a combination of knowledge, experience, and support designed to assist them in becoming viable production growers, and accomplish it in a manner that encourages sustainability.  Applications for Mahiʻai Mentorship will be accepted from March 1 through May 2, 2016

To apply for the Mahiʻai Match-Up contest or for more information, visit http://www.pauahi.org/mahiaimatchup/index.html.

2016 Mahiʻai Match-Up Parcels:

 

Hawaii Drought Monitor – El Nino Continues

The National Weather Service is projecting a 90% chance that the current El Nino will continue through the winter and an 80% chance of El Nino continuing through Spring 2016.

Click to view

Click to view

El Nino events are often accompanied by significant lower than normal rainfall during the winter months.  Although reservoir levels are currently high, a prolonged dry spell can quickly bring the levels down.  Therefore, the Department of Agriculture strongly suggests that all irrigation system customers review your plans for plantings this winter and next spring, keeping in mind that irrigation water service may be affected by the projected effects of the El Nino should conservation measures be implemented.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Glenn Okamoto, Infrastructure Manager at (808) 973-9436 or Randy Teruya, Agricultural Asset Manager at (808) 973-9478.

HONOKAIA RESERVOIR:

CURRENT WATER LEVEL as of:  1/22/2016:  8.0 feet (1.0 MG)

PAAUILO RESERVOIR:

CURRENT WATER LEVEL as of:  1/22/2016:  21.0 feet (10.0 MG)

County and state water purveyors issue drought notices and information statements to alert citizens on drought conditions affecting them. These notices may ask customers to conserve water or inform them of water restrictions.

County of Kauai

County of Kauai Department of Water

City & County of Honolulu

Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Waimanalo Irrigation System: no restrictions

County of Maui

Maui Department of Water Supply

Upper Kula Water Change Due to Drought Conditions, September 5, 2013

Upcountry Water Report

Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Molokai Irrigation System: 10% mandatory non-homestead water conservation

County of Hawaii

Hawaii Department of Water Supply

Drought Information Update

Water Conservation and Restriction Notices Page

Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Lower Hamakua Irrigation System: no resctrictions

Waimea Irrigation System: Mandatory 10% Conservation

Hawaii Tropical Fruit Grower Surveys Fruit Growers With Goal to Increase Production

What fruit, and how much, is being locally grown? What fruit do growers want to plant in the near future? What do growers need to help them successfully produce fruit? These questions and more were asked in a recent survey conducted by the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG).

Jackfruit

Jackfruit

Funded by the County of Hawai‘i’s Department of Research and Development, the HTFG Survey of Tropical Fruit Growers collected data from HTFG member and non-member respondents from July through September, 2015.

“The purpose of the survey was to determine what actions to take and to fullfill grants to get fruit trees into the hands of growers to increase local production,” said Alyssa Cho, assistant researcher in sustainable farming systems with an emphasis in tropical fruit and nut production at University of Hawaii-Manoa.

Avocado

Avocado

Using Survey Monkey, the project found 88 percent of growers have planted citrus, followed by 83 percent cultivating avocado and 82 percent farming bananas. Other top fruit included mango, papaya and pineapple.

The survey’s 138 participants claimed a total of 42,955 planted fruit trees. Of these, 2,586 were citrus. Limes were the top type of citrus grown, at 81 percent, followed by lemons, oranges and tangerines.

Apple was the most popular banana variety with 88 percent of respondents claiming to grow them, followed by red bananas at 34 percent. Sharwil led the varieties of the 2,151 avocadoes grown followed by Yamagata and Kahaluu. Washington Navel and Valencia were the most planted types of oranges.

Top criteria used for selection of fruit trees grown on farms included cost of plant and time needed to produce crop, followed by disease resistance and value for home use. Respondents said they keep 52 percent of their crop for personal use and directly sell 30 percent to wholesalers, 24 percent at farmers markets and the rest at fruit and farm stands, retail stores and restaurants.

The “biggest barrier to planting more trees now” was lack of space according to 37 percent of respondents and not enough labor to care for trees said 24 percent. Labor was cited as the top area of assistance needed at 43 percent, followed by horticulture/production at 25 percent.

“Other specified areas of assistance requested included market access, tips for managing market over supply and pest management,” noted Mark Suiso, HTFG president who oversaw implementation of the survey.

Jaboticaba

Jaboticaba

When asked what exotic fruit trees were desired by growers in the next two years, nearly 50 percent of respondents listed fig and breadfruit, followed by dragonfruit, jackfruit, passionfruit, mangosteen, jaboticaba, pomegranate, cacao and durian.

“The results of the survey identify what trees growers want to plant over the next few years and what type of trees we should try to clone for our members,” detailed Ken Love, HTFG executive director. “It also tells HTFG what we should focus on for study and grant writing.”

Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers

Marking its 27th year, HTFG was incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii. It is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion; www.htfg.org.

Hawaii Department of Health Selects BioTrackTHC for its Seed-to-Sale Tracking Contract

The Hawaii Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance has selected BioTrackTHC  as the winner apparent for its state contract for tracking the production, transportation and sale of medical marijuana.

BiotrackTHC

“The development of a healthy and successful medical cannabis program is a top priority for Hawaii, and we are extremely proud to have been chosen to be a critical part of it,” said Patrick Vo, CEO, BioTrackTHC. “The islands of Hawaii are truly unique and we very much look forward to applying our expertise in solving the cannabis traceability challenges unique to Hawaii.”

BioTrackTHC’s government software solution will provide the Hawaii Department of Health real-time visibility into the seed-to-sale tracking data of every licensed medical marijuana dispensary in the state, including plant and inventory quantities, production activity, laboratory testing results, transportation activity, and dispensing activity.

This marks the fifth cannabis-related government contract won by the company. BioTrackTHC’s seed-to-sale Traceability System for government agencies is currently being utilized by the states of Washington, New Mexico, and Illinois, and is in the process of implementation by New York. The company’s Enterprise System for businesses is used in more than 1,500 medical and recreational cannabis facilities in 23 states, Washington D.C., Canada, Jamaica and South America. These technologies enable government agencies and businesses to track every plant and every fraction-of-a-gram of cannabis throughout the production lifecycle—cultivation, harvest and cure, quality assurance testing, transportation, destruction, and sale—bringing transparency, accountability, and meaningful insights to cannabis operations.

The Hawaii Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in November of last year and posted a Notice of Award naming BioTrackTHC on December 28, 2015.

Alexander & Baldwin Announces Transition of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company to a Diversified Farm Model

Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. today announced that it is transitioning out of farming sugar and will instead pursue a diversified agricultural model for its 36,000-acre Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (“HC&S”) plantation on Maui.

Alexander and BaldwinSugar operations will be phased out by the end of 2016, and the transition to a new model will occur over a multi-year period. No immediate layoffs will result from today’s announcement and approximately half of the 675 employees will be retained through the end of the sugar harvest, which is expected to be completed late in 2016. Beginning in March, employees will be laid off as their specific functions are completed. Under the new diversified model, the plantation is planned to be divided up into smaller farms with varied agricultural uses, potentially including energy crops, food crops, support for the local cattle industry, and the development of an agriculture park.

“A&B’s roots literally began with the planting of sugar cane on 570 acres in Makawao, Maui, 145 years ago,” said Stanley M. Kuriyama, A&B executive chairman. “Much of the state’s population would not be in Hawaii today, myself included, if our grandparents or great-grandparents had not had the opportunity to work on the sugar plantations. A&B has demonstrated incredible support for HC&S over these many years, keeping our operation running for 16 years after the last sugar company on Maui closed its doors. We have made every effort to avoid having to take this action. However, the roughly $30 million Agribusiness operating loss we expect to incur in 2015, and the forecast for continued significant losses, clearly are not sustainable, and we must now move forward with a new concept for our lands that allows us to keep them in productive agricultural use.”

“This is a sad day for A&B, and it is with great regret that we have reached this decision,” said Christopher J. Benjamin, A&B president and chief executive officer, who ran HC&S as its general manager from 2009 to 2011. “Having had the privilege of working alongside the employees of HC&S for two years, I know firsthand the professionalism and dedication with which they perform their jobs. The longevity of the plantation is a testament to their resourcefulness and hard work. This transition will certainly impact these employees and we will do everything we can to assist them. The cessation of sugar operations also will have a significant impact on the Maui community and we will do our best to minimize that impact. A&B remains committed to Maui and will continue to be a significant corporate supporter of Maui charities and organizations.”

Employee Transition & Support
A&B is committed to supporting its impacted employees. The Company will provide transition coordinators to assist HC&S employees in finding alternate employment opportunities. The coordinators will identify and coordinate available federal, state, county and private job assistance programs (including employment counseling, job training, financial counseling, job placement and education services).  A&B will offer all employees enhanced severance and benefit packages. Retirement benefits accrued by eligible employees, retirees, and past employees will not be affected by the transition out of sugar. Additionally, the Company will consider displaced employees for positions in its new operations as they become available.

“We are very focused on helping our employees during this time,” Benjamin said. “Many of our employees have dedicated their careers to HC&S and have followed in the footsteps of previous generations of family members that worked on the plantation. We are grateful for their years of service and we will support them through this transition period.”

Transition to Diversified Agriculture
“A&B is committed to looking for optimal productive agricultural uses for the HC&S lands,” said Benjamin. “Community engagement, resource stewardship, food sustainability and renewable energy are all being considered as we define the new business model for the plantation. These are leading us toward a more diversified mix of operations.”

The Company is evaluating several categories of potential replacement agricultural activities. These include energy crops, agroforestry, grass-finished livestock operations, diversified food crops, and orchard crops, among others.

HC&S has several test projects underway to further assess these opportunities, and the Company plans to expand the scope and scale of the trials during the coming year. Initial projects include:

  • Energy crops:  Building upon its extensive experience with crop-to-energy production, HC&S has initiated crop trials to evaluate potential sources of feedstock for anaerobic conversion to biogas. This on-farm testing currently is being expanded from plot to field-scale and HC&S has entered into a confidential memorandum of understanding with local and national partners to explore market opportunities for biogas. HC&S also is assessing the potential of cultivating purpose-grown oilseed crops for biodiesel production and has entered into preliminary, but confidential, discussions with other bioenergy industry players to explore additional crop-to-energy opportunities.
  • Support for the local cattle industry:  The Company is exploring the costs and benefits of irrigated pasture to support the production of grass-finished beef for the local market. HC&S has converted a test site of former sugar land to cultivated pasture and is working with Maui Cattle Company to conduct a grass-finishing pasture trial in 2016. High-quality grazing lands could enable Maui’s cattle ranchers to expand their herds and keep more cattle in Hawaii for finishing on grass.
  • Food crops/Agriculture park:  A&B plans to establish an agriculture park on former sugar lands in order to provide opportunities for farmers to access these agricultural lands and support the cultivation of food crops on Maui. HC&S employees will be given preference to lease lots from the company to start their own farming operations.

“Transitioning HC&S to a diversified agribusiness model underscores A&B’s commitment to the community and our intention to keep these lands in active agricultural use,” said Benjamin. “It will take time but, if successful, these efforts could support the goals of food and energy self-sufficiency for Hawaii, preserve productive agricultural lands, and establish new economic engines for Maui and the state.”

The Hawai‘i Big Tree Competition is Accepting Nominations for the Spring 2016 Season

The start of a new year also marks the beginning of the annual Hawai‘i Big Tree Competition.  Sponsored by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and American Forests, the Big Tree program focuses attention on the largest trees of particular native species, as a way to raise awareness about the importance of healthy trees and forests.

This national competition comes in light of the tragic falling of two previous Hawai‘i Big Tree champions: the coconut tree from Hawai‘i Kai popularly known as “Coco,” and an ‘a‘ali‘i tree (Hopbush) from the Maui Botanical Gardens.  Both trees are being respectively preserved and/or re-used at their locations so their spirit may live on.

"Coco"

“Coco”

In 2014, Coco the coconut palm, was crowned the National Big Tree coconut species winner and the National Ultimate Big Tree winner among all candidate species after several weeks of intense on-line voting.  The public is invited to find new champions for these species, as well as the other 19 eligible species acknowledged by American Forests.

The current 8 Hawaiian champions are listed below:

Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis) in Waikoloa dry forest, Hawai‘i island
(circumference: 186.96”) (height: 40’) (Crown Spread: 43.50’)

Olopua (Nestegis sandwicensis) in Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i island
(circumference: 204.52”) (Height: 32’) (Crown Spread: 42.58’)

Pāpalakēpa(Pisonia brunoniana) in Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i island
(circumference: 52.46”) (Height: 28’) (Crown Spread: 15.25’)

Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) in Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i island
(circumference: 165) (Height: 24) (Crown Spread: 25.5’)

Kōlea lau nui (Myrsine lessertiana) in Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i island
(circumference: 85.14”) (height: 32’) (Crown Spread: 25.5’)

Koa (Acacia koa) in Kona Hema Preserve, South Kona, Hawai‘i island
(Circumference: 343”) (Height: 115’) (Crown Spread: 93’)

Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus) in Hulihe‘e Palace, Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i island
(Circumference: 110”) (Height: 20’) (Crown Spread: 25’)

Mānele (Sophora chrysophylla) in Volcanoes National Park, Hawai‘i island
(Circumference: 30”) (Height: 73’) (Crown Spread: 57’)

The Hawai‘i Big Tree Competition does not have a champion for the following Hawaiian species that are eligible for the National Big Tree Program.  Therefore, any tree nominated from the following list will likely be crowned a National Champion.

Hawaiian Tree Name Genus & Species
Lama Diospyros sandwicensis
‘Ohi‘a ha Syzygium sandwicense
‘Ohi‘a ai Syzygium malaccense
Koki‘o ke‘oke‘o Hibiscus arnottianus
Ma‘o hau hele Hibiscus brackenridgei
Aloalo Hibiscus clayii
Kāwa‘u Ilex anomala
Nenelau Rhus sandwicensis
Lonomea Sapindus oahuensis
A‘e Zanthoxylum oahuense
Wauke Broussonetia papyrifera

To replace a current champion, the challenger tree must have more total points.

Total Points = Trunk Circumference (inches) + Height (feet) + ¼ Average Crown Spread (feet).

To nominate a tree, contact the Hawai‘i Big Tree Coordinator Krista Lizardi at 808-587-0164 or Krista.M.Lizardi@hawaii.gov and provide the tree height, trunk circumference, and average crown spread.  Also, please know your tree’s specific location (GPS coordinates are appreciated).

For more on the Hawai‘i Big Tree Program: dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/info/big-tree/

For more on the National Big Tree Program: www.americanforests.org/bigtrees/bigtrees-search/

Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Names People of the Year

The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) names the recipients of its appreciation awards, given annually to supporters of the state’s local fruit industry. The five award recipients include Mark G. Wright, Ph.D.; David Frenz, Tracie Matsumoto, Ph.D; Lisa Keith, Ph.D; and Peter Follet, Ph.D.

htfg logo

“The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers feels it’s important to recognize those who make significant contributions to the tropical fruit industry across the state,” said Ken Love, HTFG executive director. “Past winners include chefs, growers and researchers.”

Dr. Wright of the Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences at the University of Hawai‘i-Manoa was cited for his continuous support of HTFG and helping statewide growers better understand the benefits of integrated pest management.

Frenz of Birds and Budz in Hilo was recognized for “dedication to high quality propagation while helping growers realize there are many plant varieties to consider.”

Both affiliated with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) in Hilo, Dr. Matsumoto and Dr. Keith were honored for continuously supporting HTFG and its programs through research.

Dr. Follet, also of USDA ARS and PBARC, was tapped for HTFG support and quarantine update education.

SAVE THE DATE

The 2016 Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference is September 30-October 2 at the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort on The Garden Isle.

Geared to farmers, educators, orchard managers and proponents of sustainable agriculture, the weeklong event is presented by the statewide Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG).

Registration forms, speaker itinerary and fee schedule will be available in April at www.htfg.org or by contacting Love at kenlove@hawaiiantel.net or Mark Suiso at suiso@aloha.net.

Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers

Marking its 26th year, HTFG was incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii. It is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion; www.htfg.org.

Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death Prompts Interagency Attention and Battle

Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death has already killed hundreds of thousands of this native tree in Hawaii Island forests.  This disease is new to science and to Hawaii and thus has prompted state and federal agencies to combine efforts to try and find answers and potential treatments, as well as to inform and educate people about Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death.

ohia deathAt simultaneous news conferences on Oahu and Hawaii Island, managers and researchers will provide updates on Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death as well as on an awareness campaign associated with this disease.

  • What:  Honolulu and Hilo News Conferences
  • When:  Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015,  11 a.m.
  • Where: Honolulu-DLNR Chairperson’s Office, 1151 Punchbowl Street (Kalanimoku Building) and Hilo-Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center, 64 Nowelo Street
  • Who: Suzanne Case, Chair, Dept. of Land & Natural Resources (Honolulu), Scott Enright, Chair, Dept. of Agriculture (Honolulu), Rob Hauff, Forest Health Coordinator, Acting Protection Forester, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (Honolulu), J.B. Friday, Extension Forester, UH Cooperative Extension Service (Hilo), Flint Hughes, Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry (Hilo), Lisa Keith, Research Plant Pathologist, USDA Agricultural Research Service (Hilo), Steven Bergfeld, Branch Manager, DLNR Division of Forestry & Wildlife (Hilo)

Native Plant Enthusiasts Invited to Annual Arbor Day Plant Sale

The public is invited to an Arbor Day plant sale on Friday, November 5 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife Kamuela State Tree Nursery, located at 66-1220-A  Lalamilo Rd. in Kamuela.

State Tree NurserySale items will mostly feature native plants such as koa, ohia, native hibiscus species, sandalwood, cypress and pines.  Dibble tube seedlings will start at $1 each, and bigger trees in pots are also available. A two-gallon pot will run up to $11.

For more information call the nursery at (808) 887-6061.

Lawmakers Visit Big Island – Focus on Agriculture, Medical Care and Economic Development

Members of the House Finance Committee, chaired by Representative Sylvia Luke, toured various sites on Hawaii Island to view first hand several projects and programs supported by the Legislature. The site visits provided committee members first hand insight into the status of ongoing projects and on other needs of the district.

House Finance Committee visits Waimea.  Photos Courtesy of House Majority Communications

House Finance Committee visits Waimea. Photos Courtesy of House Majority Communications

Representatives Richard Onishi and Nicole Lowen who serve on the Finance Committee were joined by fellow Big Island lawmakers Clift Tsuji, Mark Nakashima, Cindy Evans and Richard Creagan on a wide range of activities that included a status update and site visit of Hilo Medical Center.

Committee members visit Ookala Dairy Farm.  Photos Courtesy of House Majority Communications

Committee members visit Ookala Dairy Farm. Photos Courtesy of House Majority Communications

The committee visited Hamakua Mushrooms, Ookala Dairy Farm, Big Island Beef and met with Kamuela farmers to discuss and learn about their issues and concerns.  The legislators also received a briefing by Hawaiian Homestead farmers participating in the Waimea Regional Community and Economic Development Program.

In Kona the committee toured projects at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii including the Taylor Shell Fish Farm and Cyanotech.

Free Citric Acid to Help Control Coqui Frogs

Are you sick of Coqui frogs keeping you up at night? Coqui frogs die when exposed to citric acid and vouchers for free citric acid are available for pick up at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center.

coquiVouchers for are good for a  50 lb. bag of citric acid from Al Home & Farm Supply located at 81-940 Haleki‘i Street in Kealakekua.

Please ask for Deputy Executive Assistant Scott Ruedy, and he’ll sign you in to receive a voucher from your council district.

New Activities Mark 20th Taste of the Hawaiian Range

While “grazing” at over 60 culinary stations and exhibit booths, attendees at the 20th Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range can get in on some new activities that all promote local and sustainable food production on Hawai‘i Island.

The Taste of the Hawaiian Range is one of my sons favorite events!

The Taste of the Hawaiian Range is one of my sons favorite events!

The anniversary event is 6-8 p.m. Friday, October 9 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village and boasts a stellar lineup of participating chefs from O’ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i Island—plus sampling by local food producers and compelling exhibits presenting topics related to our island agriculture.

Each attending family will receive a complimentary copy of the Taste of the Hawaiian Range 20th Anniversary Cookbooklet, filled with recipes by local chefs and members of the local beef industry. Find out how the Arakis of Kuhio Grille make Miso Pork Pot Roast and what’s the secret for Merriman’s Kahua Ranch Lamb Jook.

taste2015

Also new in 2015 is a digital scavenger hunt where up to 500 guests can answer questions, take photos and learn more about Big Isle agriculture—using their smart phones —for a chance to win prizes like restaurant gift certificates and local food products.

In addition, attendees will be able to connect with exhibit booths through a QR code image posted at each table. The code will connect smart phone users to online product discounts, coupons and links for educational resources.

“These digital activities will enable attendees to take advantage of discount offers from our participating local food producers for up to a year after the event,” explains Christine Osterwalder, Taste exhibit chair. “Guests will also be able to download digital handouts from our educational exhibitors. Info will be conveniently accessible at the click of a button and celebrates the amazing variety of agricultural products here on the Big Island.”

taste2015a

Anniversary festivities will include honoring the event’s 20-year participants and others who have been long-term Taste supporters.

Culinary headliners for this year’s event include Bravo’s “Top Chef” Fan Favorite Sheldon Simeona of Maui’s Migrant Restaurant; Kevin Hanney of Oahu’s 12th Avenue Grill, the 2015 Hale Aina Best Restaurant of the Year; and the host of TV’s “Family Ingredients,” Ed Kenny of Honolulu’s Town Restaurant.

These celebrity chefs, and 30-some others, will be preparing delectable dishes using pasture-raised beef, lamb, goat, mutton and pork. A variety of beef cuts—from tongue to tail— are utilized so chefs and attendees can get acquainted with not-so-familiar cuts while having fun. The pasture-raised beef is sourced from local, humanely raised cattle that are free of antibiotics and hormones. Enjoy familiar cuts like sirloin tip and ribs, plus tripe and the infamous “rocky mountain oysters” or bull testicles.

The Rocky Mountain Oyster Display

The Rocky Mountain Oyster Display

Hawaii Regional Cuisine founders Roy Yamaguchi and Peter Merriman will lead the pre-gala’s educational offerings, which are open to the public. Using oxtail and beef tenderloin, Chef Yamaguchi of Roy’s instructs the 2015 edition of Cooking Pasture-Raised Beef 101 at 3 p.m. Peter Merriman of Merriman’s Restaurants offers a presentation on purchasing local for the professional kitchen that is geared for college culinary students at 1:30 p.m.

Pre-sale tickets for Taste are $45 and $60 at the door. Entry to Cooking 101 is $10 while the 1:30 p.m. class is free. Tickets are on sale at island-wide locations and online. Tickets locations include Kuhio Grille in Hilo, JJ’s Country Market in Honoka‘a, Kamuela Liquors and Parker Ranch Store in Waimea, Kona Wine Market in Kailua-Kona and Kohala Essence Shop at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Purchase tickets online at www.TasteoftheHawaiianRange.com.

Watch for ticket giveaways on Facebook at Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Twitter #TasteHI.

A free parking and shuttle service to Taste is available from ‘Anaeho‘omalu Bay noon-10 p.m.; follow parking signs on Waikoloa Beach Drive. Guests are encouraged to come early to avoid shuttle lines. For general event information, phone (808) 969-8209.

Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service for effective communication or a modification of policies and procedures to participate in this event should contact Russell Nagata at 808-969-8209 no later than September 7.

taste2015bMealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival provides a venue for sustainable agricultural education, encouragement and support of locally produced ag products. The premiere ag-tourism event is a partnership between CTAHR, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, Kulana Foods, UH-Hilo CAFNRM, County of Hawaii Dept. on Environmental Management and community volunteers. Sponsorship also includes the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii County Research and Development, Hawaii Community College Food Service & Culinary Program, Kamehameha Schools, KTA SuperStores, West Hawaii Today and Pacific Radio Group. The quality and growth of this event are rooted in small business participation, sponsorship and in-kind donations. For more information, visit www.TasteoftheHawaiianRange.com.

 

Python Snake Found in Hawaii

Honolulu police captured a two-and-a-half-foot-long* snake yesterday in a garage at a Pearl City home. Residents of the Kaweloka St. home called police in the early evening and police called the Honolulu Zoo, which called an agricultural inspector.

the length of the snake was earlier reported to be four-feet long, however, the measurement is 2 1/2 feet long.

the length of the snake was earlier reported to be four-feet long, however, the measurement is 2 1/2 feet long.

In the meantime, officers captured the snake, which was identified as a non-venomous ball python and took it to the Pearl City Substation. The snake is being safeguarded at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) Plant Quarantine Branch. Inspectors are still investigating the incident.

Snakes are illegal in Hawaii. Ball pythons are common in the pet trade on the mainland. They are native to Western and West-Central Africa and are related to boas, which are also constrictors that subdue its prey by coiling around and suffocating it. Its diet usually consists of small mammals and birds. Ball pythons may grow up to six-feet in length.

Snakes have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment.  Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds. Large snakes can also be a danger to the public and small pets.

Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the state’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, Honolulu Zoo or any Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.

Persons possessing illegal animals may be charged with a class C felony and subject to fines up to $200,000 and three years in prison.  Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

Macadamia Nuts From the Big Island Being Recalled

Mahina Mele Farms is recalling the following products after FDA testing found Salmonella in macadamia nuts.

Mahina Mele Mac Nuts

Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

To date, no illnesses have been reported in connection with these products. In the interest of public health and safety, we are recalling all products processed from this batch of macadamia nuts.

The following products are involved in the recall. They were distributed to retail stores from May 26-29, 2015 primarily on the East Coast and in Hawaii.

PRODUCT UPC LOT # SIZE
Izzie Macs! Macadamia Nuts 689076792677 016 6oz (salted)
Izzie Macs! Macadamia Nuts 689076793575 016 6oz (unsalted)
Izzie Macs! Macadamia Nuts 689076792776 016 16oz (unsalted)
Izzie Macs! Macadamia Nuts 689076792974 016 16oz (salted)
Bulk Macadamia nuts (salted and unsalted; wholes and pieces) 016 5lb bag
Baby Bruddah’s Mac Nut Buttah 753182242019 016 12oz
Baby Bruddah’s Chocolate Mac Nut Buttah 735182242040 016 12oz

Customers who have purchased the above products should not consume them and should return them to the store where they were purchased for a full refund or replacement. Mahina Mele Farm will reimburse the wholesaler for any returned product.

These products were shipped May 26-29th, 2015 and are from LOT #016.

If you have any questions, call Jason or Kollette Stith at 808 328 8987.

This recall is being made with the knowledge of the Food and Drug Administration.

Act Now – Discounts Available for Annual Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference

The 25th Annual Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference is September 25-27 at Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. All attendees registering before August 1 enjoy a discounted fee of up to $50; visit hawaiitropicalfruitgrowers.org to register online with paypal; conference forms can be found at htfg.org.  Open to the public, the event includes mini-conferences on Kauai and in Hilo.

HTFG2015Geared to farmers, educators, orchard managers and proponents of sustainable agriculture, the Thursday-Tuesday event is presented by the statewide Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG).

The anniversary conference is titled “Back to Our Roots” and offers a lineup of visiting researchers and agro experts. Yaz Dixzbalis of Queensland will give the keynote address, “Cacao, Jackfruit, Hot-Water, Trellis Wires and Their Relevance to Tropical Horticulture in Australia.” Dixzbalis is an agronomist, serving as a tropical fruit horticulturist with Australia’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade. His recent research efforts involve trellising tropical fruits for improved cyclone resilience.

Other speakers and their topics include “The Fruit Explorer” Joseph Simcox, who travels the globe searching, tasting and documenting thousands of edibles. Peter Salleras will discuss a grower’s prospective of “Striving for Sustainable Tropical Tree Fruit Production in the 21st Century and Bob Shaffer presents “Soil Culture in Hawaii.”  Shaffer, agronomist for Honaunau-based Soil Culture Consulting, offers assistance to transition farms, orchards and pastures to biologically integrated farming systems using sustainable farming strategies.

HTFG Executive Director Ken Love says the conference will include USDA updates, Sunday tours with Tom Baldwin, networking and fruit tasting. In addition, Diczbalis will present a “Photo Journal of Fruitful Visits to SE Asia.”

Registration forms and fee schedule are available at www.htfg.org or by contacting Love at kenlove@hawaiiantel.net or Mark Suiso at suiso@aloha.net.

Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers: Marking its 26th year, HTFG was incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii. It is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion; www.htfg.org.

Hemp Harvested Legally in Hawaii for First Time

The first stalk of legal hemp in Hawaii was harvested today.
Hemp in HawaiiHawaii Representative Chris Lee tweeted, “Harvesting the very first stalk of hemp in Hawaii. Uses less water, 100% organic, tremendous economic commodity

Orchid Show Preview Party Held in Memory of Sandy Song

This year, the benefit Preview Party that kicks off the Hilo Orchid Society’s 63rd anniversary Orchid Show and Sale is being held in memory of Sandy Song.

The Hilo Orchid Show Preview Party on Thursday, August 6 is dedicated to the late Sandra Song (right) as a tribute to her years of devoted board service to Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center, and her avid orchid growing and judging.  The late Song and Judge Andrew Wilson (left) were founding board members of Ku‘ikahi in 2016.

The Hilo Orchid Show Preview Party on Thursday, August 6 is dedicated to the late Sandra Song (right) as a tribute to her years of devoted board service to Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center, and her avid orchid growing and judging. The late Song and Judge Andrew Wilson (left) were founding board members of Ku‘ikahi in 2016.

The party is dedicated to the late Song as a tribute to her years of devoted board service to Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center, and her avid orchid growing and judging.

“It’s Ku‘ikahi’s way of honoring Sandy,” said party chair Cody Frenz.  “She did so much every year to make the preview party a success.  She donated orchids and wine, sold tickets, and garnered the loyalty of party volunteers.”

Held from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 6, the gala features drinks, food, music, and orchid pre-sales.  Please note that the location for this year’s party and show has changed to the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.  The event is zero waste, with eco-friendly eating utensils, plus recycling/composting stations.

Each party-goer receives a souvenir glass, in order to enjoy a selection of fine wines, plus beer on tap from Kona Brewing Co.  Non-alcoholic beverages and coffee from Hilo Coffee Mill are also served.

Pupu, dinner, and dessert buffets are compliments of Island Naturals and AJ & Sons Catering, featuring the food stylings of Dean Shigeoka and Audrey Wilson, food columnist for the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

“This truly is a ‘fun’-raiser.  People eat, drink, socialize, and have the first chance to shop for magnificent and rare orchid plants,” Frenz said, “And proceeds from the party benefit two non-profits: Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center and Hilo Orchid Society.”

Guests will enjoy a generous selection of fine wines at the 63rd Annual Hilo Orchid Show and Sale Preview Party.  Held at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium on August 6, the gala event also features beer on tap from Kona Brewing Co., coffee from Hilo Coffee Mill, and gourmet juices from Island Naturals.

Guests will enjoy a generous selection of fine wines at the 63rd Annual Hilo Orchid Show and Sale Preview Party. Held at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium on August 6, the gala event also features beer on tap from Kona Brewing Co., coffee from Hilo Coffee Mill, and gourmet juices from Island Naturals.

Tickets for the Preview Party are $65 ($25 of which is tax deductible) and may be purchased in advance from The Most Irresistible Shop, Hilo Coffee Mill, Day-Lum Properties, and Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center.  Or call Julie Mitchell at (808) 935-7844 x 5.  For more information, visit www.hiloorchidsociety.org/preview-party or www.hawaiimediation.org.