It is hard to believe that ALP Seminar 6 is the last Hawaii seminar for ALP Class XVI. It was also exactly one year after Seminar 1 on East Hawaii Island, the very weekend that lava began flowing in Leilani Estates. What a year it has been!
Day 2 of Seminar 6 was just like every other ALP day, a great day. We started out with the drive from Kamuaela to Hawi along the lovely interior of Kohala on HWY 250. Our first stop was the Kohala Center where Project Development Coordinator Katie Schwind gave us an introduction to the organization.
The Kohala Center is an independent, community-based center for research, conservation, and education that was founded in 2000.
Their mission is to turn research and ancestral knowledge into action, so that communities in Hawai‘i and around the world can thrive—ecologically, economically, culturally, and socially. Their main areas of focus are food, water, place, and people. Learn more about the Kohala Center here, https://kohalacenter.org
Katie the took us to three different Kohala Center collaborators. The first was Kohala Mountain Fish Company where she toured us around the tilapia farming operation. It was impressive and started us off on the theme of fish as well as small but mighty. Each large size tank holds upwards of 30,000 fish which is an impressive pound per sq. ft production level. The company’s operation continues to grow and hopes to also move into Hawaii school cafeterias as regular fare.
Their tilapia are available in a variety of ways, whole round, scaled and gutted and assorted fillet sizes, both Fresh or Frozen.
Learn more about the Kohala Mountain Fish Company here, https://www.kmfchawaii.com.
Next Katie took us to Island Harvest Macadamia Nut Company. The company was founded in 1991 when Jim Trump, there’s no relation, took over about 700 acres of macadamia orchards that were planted in the 1980’s by Kohala Sugar. Today we were hosted by Jim’s sons, Chris and Nathan who are both working full-time on the farm. Island Harvest Macadamia Nut Company is among few producers of organic mac nuts and have integrated Korean Natural Farming techniques on their farm with great success. There are still plenty of production challenges associated with pests, diseases and weather to name a few, but they are clearly working through the challenges. It is evident that both Chris and Nathan are committed, smart and very humble related to their accomplishments.
You will not find any bags of Island Harvest Macadamia Nut Company mac nuts on store shelves, but if you are enjoying organic mac nuts from Hawaii they likely come from this farm. They sell their mac nuts in the shells to other processors. The family is exploring potential value added opportunities for the future, but they also spoke of the value of focusing on what they do well, organic mac nut production and improving on that. Here is a nice article from 2016 with some more information about the farm https://www.farmprogress.com/tree-nuts/moving-macadamia-nut-production-next-level.
Katie then took us to meet another Kohala Center collaborator, Dash Kuhr, Owner and Manager of Hawai`i Institute of Pacific Agriculture Tour and Production Garden, aka HIP Agriculture. HIP Agriculture is a 501(c)(3) that is committed to practice and teach ecologically conscious agriculture, empowering individuals and communities to cultivate alternative systems of living that restore human and environmental health.
HIP Agriculture offers a wide range of educational programs, internships and is the main coordinator for the Kohala public school farm to cafeteria program. The Kohala District is one of three pilot programs in Hawaii that is working to get more locally produced farm products into freshly prepared school cafeteria lunches. This is a diverse effort that includes, chefs, farmers, students, teachers, schools and the community at large who are all working to get fresher food and healthier options into student’s meals served at schools. At the same time creating solid markets for local farmers.
Dash and his team harvest food from the food forests as well as the market garden that they have at a nearby location. You can learn more about HIP Agriculture here, http://hipagriculture.org/.
The first three stops of the day featured fish, “forests” of mac nuts as well as diverse agroforestry all of which made us think of feasts, but our next stop was the first wonderful local feast of our day. We visited the Kahua Pa`a Mua at Ho`ea Natural Farming Lab. Our host, David Fuertes is the Executive Director of the operation. David, his wife Carol and team prepared us the first of two locals feasts of the day.
We enjoyed the lunch while David shared some great stories about his years of involvement in AG from when he was a youngster in FFA through his professional career up to the present. David is a master storyteller and teacher, it was such a treat to have this time to learn from David.
Kahua Pa’a Mua is about enhancing communities through economic, conservation/preservation, social and educational programs for youth and adults.
The flagship projects are based in Korean Natural Farming methodologies for education, farm tours, allowing students and organizations with hands on experiences on the farm in Crops, Animal husbandry and the process of making NF Inputs.
We were also treated to a presentation about the Korean Natural Farming practice and were given a great summary of the steps and formulations involved. We were also able to visit the piggery on site that was completely free of any pig smells which is a trademark of the Korean Natural Farming practice. You can learn more here, http://www.kahuapaamua.org/about-us/.
Our last stop of the day was a visit with Henk Rogers, Founder and Board Chair, Blue Planet Foundation at his Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a Ranch. Henk gave us a tour of his Natural Energy Lab where we learned about the Blue Ion energy storage systems his company developed as well as hydrogen gas production and applications. It really did feel like we were in a movie visiting Tony Stark.
The Energy Lab and the whole ranch are off the grid and rely on solar power, the battery storage capability and hydrogen gas. He showed us the basic process of creating hydrogen gas by splitting water molecules. He even has a hydrogen gas fuel pump that he can use to fuel a car. Some of the food that we ate in the evening was also cooked with hydrogen gas.
Hydrogen gas is lighter than air. As a result it escapes very quickly straight up when released and when it burns on a stove for example there is no peripheral heat, but only heat straight up. It is also hotter and cleaner burning. It was really an amazing experience to see the lab and also see all of the applications in use on the ranch. You can learn more about Blue Planet Energy here, https://blueplanetenergy.com/
Believe it or not there was still a lot more to the evening. Henk hosted us at his Ranch and we were treated to a second feast featuring locally grown food and the cooking of our very own Class XVI professional chef, Olelo Pa`a. It was a great ending to another wonderful day on Hawaii Island. This Friday night event will surely go down as a highlight in ALP history.