Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Windward Farm Tour July 24, 2010

On July 24th, I met about 40 other people via Kokua Market to take a farm tour to the Windward side of the island. The point of the tour was to get to know the farmers on the island and learn all about who is producing our food. The very lovely Susan Yamada jumped in with me so we could ride out there and took some amazing video (you'll see the links to her videos just below).

The first stop was Waiahole Poi Factory on Kamehameha Highway where we all made sure everyone was together before heading up to Reppun Farm. Here is the storefront for the Poi Factory (video). From there we drove up into the valley and crossed a stream to get to the farm (next video). You can see how absolutely lush the valley is on the windward side of the island.

We made our way up to the farm and learned about their incredible shangri la including the battles for water, a precious resource on the island; their bees and how to keep them healthy and thriving; their coffee beans and roasting process (a VW bug windshield wiper motor runs their roaster); and a fruit eating piranha that is part of their aquaponics system. The Reppun's are entirely off the grid, using solar and hydro electric power. Everywhere you look, they have food growing, high and low! In the following photos you'll see the coffee roaster, lilikoi, evidence of bees and honey, and the achiote tree. Some of the women who were with us were from the Phillipines. They call this the lipstick plant because you can break it open and use it for lipstick. The colors were stunning!

We wound around the land and came upon their taro field. All of the farm is incredibly beautiful, but the taro loi (patch) in specific was breathtaking and idyllic. They pump the river water in with the hydroelectric power and flood the patch. This taro is known for being hard from the cold water, and apparently the people are also rumored to be hard headed (this is what one of the Reppun brother's said.....).

One of the most surprising things to me there was the cashew tree. I've never seen how this nut is grown until now, and I love learning new things. The fruit itself is sweet and juicy, and has a flavor and texture much like starfruit. The nut grows out of the bottom of the fruit.

We took a break by having lunch at Sweet Home Waimanalo where Kevin Vacarello told us about their farm-to-table efforts. (I enjoyed the tofu and black bean burger with a sweet potato salad and mango dressing, as well as 'nalo greens with a vegan BBQ dressing. Mmmm...)

The last part of the tour took us to Palaka Moon Farm where we saw the farm in its very initial stages of preparation. They plan to grow everything possible to serve in their restaurant and to make the farm itself zero impact on the Earth. It was interesting learning about the physics behind engineering a farm that is not only sustainable but leaves no footprint on the earth and simultaneously seeing it in action at Reppun's. It was a great contrast to see what it takes to establish a farm that can provide food for the community.

We all had a simply fabulous day. I know I did!


Anonymous said...

So interesting! What a great blog, beautifully done. You should blog for the StarAdvertiser, then what you are doing would have major impact! A healthy eating and sustainable living column ... you have this beautiful blog to show them.

Leslie said...

Thanks so much for taking time to read my blog and to comment. I am really glad to hear that you are enjoying it! Thanks also for the suggestion. Do you know anyone there?