Hamakua Farm Tours

June 16, 2008

Kona Outdoor Circle is sponsoring a tour of several Hamakua Farms on Tuesday, June 17, 2008. The first farm on the tour is Hamakua Springs Country Farm. Owner Richard Ha will be leading the tour of his farm, which is a model of sustainable farming on a large scale. The farm is 600 acres planted in bananas, tomatoes, cucumber and watercress. The tomatoes are grown hydroponically in huge greenhouses on the property. He will discuss his entire operation focusing on the sustainable systems he has installed.

Following a catered lunch at the Lapahoehoe Train Museum we will visit Honopua flower farm in Kamuela. The farm is owned by master lei maker, Marie McDonald and operated by her daughter Roen and her husband. Most of the farmland adjacent to the house is planted in native Hawaiian plants that are suitable for lei making. Roen will lead the tour and Marie will join us to talk about how she uses many of the plant material that we will see growing on her farm.

Registered participants will meet at KOC’s “Festival of the Trees” parking lot at 8 am to car pool to Richard’s Farm in Hamakua and return around 4:30 pm from Waimea.

This tour offers a wonderful opportunity to meet two excellent farmers and learn about their ways of using their land sustainably while giving back to their community in many ways. The tour is $50 for KOC members and $65 for non members and includes lunch. Space is limited so call the KOC office at 329-7286 to reserve by Friday, June 13.


CTAHR Celebrates 100 Years with Open House

April 21, 2008
CTAHR in Hawaii County is celebrating its 100th birthday with an open house at the UH Mealani Experiment Station in Waimea. The free event is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 26 at 64-289 Mamalahoa Highway.The public can attend talks and demonstrations and view educational displays on a diverse range of topics. Live specimens of invasive species such as stinging nettle caterpillar, little fire ant, cycad scale and coqui frogs will be on display with tips on identifying these pests and what you can do to prevent and control infestations.

The multistep process of making chocolate from Hawaii cocoa beans on a small scale will be demonstrated. Local vegetables and popular exotic tropical fruits that can be grown in Hawaii will be on display, including more unusual fruits like durian, mangosteen, jackfruit, jaboticaba, soursop and others.

A display on the statewide aquaculture extension program explains its activities on Hawaii Island. The program assists existing and potential new businesses with aquaculture production, as well as informing the public about the nature and workings of aquaculture in the community.

Genetic engineering is and how it is different from other types of plant breeding, and some of the benefits of and concerns about genetic engineering will be explained in another display. The Fruit Fly Pest Management display will help people identify the four species of fruit flies, provide information to the home gardener on how to manage these pests through sanitation, pheromone lures and baits and demonstrate how to make inexpensive traps to monitor and reduce fruit fly populations. Organic agriculture, taro varieties and the “Taste of the Hawaiian Range” food show will be showcased in other displays.

Bring your questions, and ailing plants, to the Plant Doctor who will be set up to diagnose plant problems. Free on-the-spot testing will be conducted to determine the pH level of soil and water samples.

Participants can take a short tour of the tea and blueberry research plots, and taste Mealani tea, grass-finished beef barbecue and fresh poi.

Talks and demonstrations start at 10:15 a.m. with “Grafting and Air Layering;” at 11 a.m. is “Separating Fact from Fiction about Genetically Engineered Foods” and “Soils of Hawaii;” at noon is “Basics of Growing Coffee;” and at 12:30 p.m. is “Tools to Improve Carcass Quality in the Beef Market Using A.I. and Ultrasound Technology.” A demonstration on hydroponically-grown lettuce and watercress using a noncirculating nutrient solution will be ongoing in the greenhouse during the open house.

For more information on the history of CTAHR and the UH centennial celebration, visit


http://www.hawaii.edu/centennial <http://www.hawaii.edu/centennial>

For additional information on the open house, contact the Cooperative Extension Service in Hilo at 981-5199.








Upgraded Tsunami-Warning System In Place

April 12, 2008

Washington, March 17 (ANI): The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that the final two buoys are up and running in an unprecedented 39-buoy tsunami warning system designed to protect U.S. coastal communities from a similar fate as the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami.

According to a report in Discovery News, the buoy array is a dramatic improvement over the six-buoy system that existed before the 2004 disaster, which killed upwards of 350,000 people.

The Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART) buoy system, plus seismometers and other instruments, collect and transmit tsunami vital signs in hazardous earthquake zones all around the Pacific Ocean, as well as in the North Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

The system is designed to incorporate what is known and accommodate what remains unknown about the planet’s most powerful earthquakes and waves.

The Indian Ocean tsunami didn’t just provide the impetus to check-cutters inside the Beltway. It also offered valuable scientific lessons used in developing the DART system.

A rupture in a subduction zone, a place where one plate of the Earths crust is being shoved underneath another, created the Indian Ocean tsunamis driving force, the Great Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake.

The rupture, 800 miles (1,300 km) long, moved a block of earth as long as California about 30 feet, explained geophysicist Seth Stein of Northwestern University.

The tsunami created by the rare “mega-thrust” earthquake was of similarly impressive breadth.

In order not to miss broad wave fronts of future tsunamis, the DART buoys in the Pacific Ocean were placed 400 to 600 miles (700 to 1,000 km) apart, said Eddie Bernard, director of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

The 200,000 dollars DART buoys are only half of the picture.

The other half of the system sits on the ocean floor, sometimes thousands of feet down. This sea floor unit measures changes in water pressure, which can be converted into water depth, and transmits the data via an acoustical modem to the buoy on the ocean surface.

Each buoy uses satellites to relay up to 15 minutes of data to two NOAA tsunami warning centers in Hawaii and Alaska, which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

At the warning centers, the data is fed into 26 new tsunami generation models. If buoys near the epicenter detect a large tsunami, and the models forecast it coming ashore, forecasters can broadcast specifics about where, when and how large the tsunami will be when it hits.

Emergency Health Advisory #9

April 10, 2008

This is a civil defense message.
This is an information update for Thursday afternoon, April 10, at 4:30.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports the volcanic emissions of sulfur dioxide fumes from Halema’uma’u and Pu’u ‘O’o continues with no change.

The National Weather Service forecasts that trade winds will become stronger and remain with us for the next few days.

Due to the volcanic emissions and the current and forecasted wind conditions, the following are now in effect.

  1. At this time, the district of Ka’u is under code YELLOW status. Color code YELLOW indicates a light level of sulfur dioxide. The health precautions for color code YELLOW is for those in the sensitive group to avoid outdoor activities.
  2. Under normal trade wind conditions the residential area down wind and closest to the sulfur dioxide sources of Kilauea is the Ka’u District.
  3. All other districts of Hawai’i Island are in color code Green. Green indicates at most, only a trace of sulfur dioxide.
  4. All residents of Hawai’i Island but especially areas close to Kilauea are advised to continue being on the alert and prepared. If your area is informed of high sulfur dioxide levels, remember the safest protection is to limit your exposure.
  5. Two important reminders for you to know: First, sulfur dioxide levels are highly based on weather conditions and especially wind direction. Second, sulfur dioxide levels do not necessarily coincide with vog levels.

Seed Exchange—-April 11, 2008

April 10, 2008

Hawai’i Farmers Union and the Hamakua North Hilo Agricultural Cooperative will hold another Farm Community Potluck and Seed Exchange on Friday, April 11 at Honokaa’s ILWU Jack Wayne Hall building on the Waipi’o, makai end of Mamane Street. Doors open and seed exchange begins at 4:30, dinner at 6:00. Home gardeners, farmers and other community members are most welcome whether you bring seeds, plants or cuttings, or just take some home!

E komo mai kakou, kokua kekahi i kekahi, aloha kekahi i kekahi. (Welcome! Help each other, love each other!) Farm Community Potluck and Seed Exchanges will be held every other second Friday throughout the year – ( June 13, August 8, October 10, and Decemebr 12. ) Join us in growing community food sovereignty in Hamakua! For more information, call:808-775-7159.


Vegetal steel: bamboo as eco-friendly building material

April 3, 2008

GIRARDOT, Colombia (AP) – Forget steel and concrete. The building material of choice for the 21st century might just be bamboo. This hollow-stemmed grass isn’t just for flimsy tropical huts any more – it’s getting outsized attention in the world of serious architecture. From Hawaii to Vietnam, it’s used to build everything from luxury homes and holiday resorts to churches and bridges.

Boosters call it “vegetal steel,” with clear environmental appeal. Lighter than steel but five times stronger than concrete, bamboo is native to every continent except Europe and Antarctica.

And unlike slow-to-harvest timber, bamboo’s woody stalks can shoot up several feet a day, absorbing four times as much world-warming carbon dioxide.

“The relationship to weight and resistance is the best in the world. Anything built with steel, I can do in bamboo faster and just as cheaply,” said Colombian architect Simon Velez, who almost single-handedly thrust to the vanguard of design a material previously associated with woven mats and Andean pan pipes.

Velez created the largest bamboo structure ever built: the 55,200-square-foot (5,128 sq. meter) Nomadic Museum, a temporary building that recently debuted in Mexico City and takes up half of the Zocalo, Latin America’s largest plaza.

The museum, open until May, is the brainchild of Canadian artist Gregory Colbert, who wanted a monumental structure built entirely of renewable resources to house his tapestry-sized photos of humans interacting in dreamlike sequence with animals.

He turned to Velez, who two decades ago made a simple discovery.

By using small amounts of bolted mortar at the joints – instead of traditional lashing methods with vines or rope – he was able for the first time to fully leverage the natural strength and flexibility of guadua, a thick Colombian bamboo, to build cathedrallike vaults and 28-foot (8.5-meter) cantilever roofs capable of supporting 11 tons. (Guadua, long tauted as the best construction-grade bamboo, can be purchased on the Big Island from DeeAnne Domnick at 808-987-7008).

Curing the stalks with a borax-based solution deterred termites.

He perfected his technique on hundreds of projects, mostly in Colombia but also in Brazil, India and Germany with structures as graceful as they are muscular.

In steamy Girardot, a two-hour drive from his bamboo home in Bogota, the 58-year-old Velez has just completed a prototype of an energy-saving store for French retail giant Carrefour.

The 21,500-square-feet (2,000 sq. meters) structure has a domed roof made of guadua – instead of sun-absorbing metal – that will cut down on air conditioning costs. In Bali, German Joerg Stamm applied the same technique – learned as an apprentice to Velez – in constructing a 160-foot (50-meter) bridge strong enough to hold a truck.

For this iconoclast who designs exclusively in freehand, bamboo is foremost a high-tech material. Seismic testing of bamboo seems to back his claim. After years developing construction codes for bamboo in his lab in the Netherlands, Jules Janssen was in Costa Rica in 1991 when a deadly 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck. Touring the epicenter hours later, he found every brick and concrete building had collapsed.

“But 20 bamboo structures built there by coincidence held up marvelously. There wasn’t a single crack,” said Janssen, a civil engineer and expert on bamboo’s physical properties.

In an age of diminishing resources and burgeoning populations, bamboo’s environmental and social benefits are its biggest selling point as construction material.

Unlike steel, which is produced in only a handful of industrialized nations, more than 1,100 bamboo species – a few dozen of them suitable for building – proliferate in the tropics. Culms, or stalks, shoot up almost anywhere, easing carbon dioxide’s choke on the planet while absorbing water as efficiently as a desert cactus.

But building with bamboo is labor intensive and can be costly in parts of the world, depending on local supply.

Velez estimates that 80 percent of his costs on any project go to paying the 300 specialized craftsmen who follow him around the world, most recently to Guangdong province, China, where he built the country’s first commercial bamboo project, the award-winning Crosswaters Ecolodge for tourism.

Bamboo’s abundance is, ironically, an obstacle to wider acceptance. Its most visible use is as rickety, makeshift housing – feeding the stereotype that it is poor man’s lumber.

That hasn’t stopped David Sands. The Hawaii-based architect creates Robinson Crusoe revival homes in Vietnam then ships them in panels around the world for quick assembly.

After building a hundred homes in Hawaii and a resort in Bali, his Bamboo Technologies company is aiming for the U.S. mainland, where its challenges include insulating against colder temperatures and coping with uninformed building inspectors.

But in a sure sign that bamboo’s time may have come, Sands says he’s had to turn down a $20 million (euro13.5 million) unsolicited offer for his company from potential investors.

“It came as a total shock. We’re not ready for the kind of scale they were proposing,” Sands said, laughing.

The world’s bamboo crops may not be ready either – there are few commercial bamboo farms to meet a growing demand, and the United Nations in 2004 warned that as many as half of all wild species may be in danger of extinction due to forest loss.

For the Nomadic Museum, Velez had to ship 9,000 pieces of guadua to Mexico, undercutting much of the material’s “grow your own house” mystique.

But shortages may also be filled as bamboo plywood – already a major industry in China – gains acceptance in the United States and Europe, and growers rush to meet the demand.

“The rate at which it grows is amazing,” says Raul de Villafranca, consultant for Agromod, a Mexican company that is planting 9,880 acres (4,000 hectares) in the southern state of Chiapas. “In one year, you can harvest stalks 15 meters (50 feet) tall, and unlike hardwood, it never needs to be replanted.”

San Francisco architect Darrel DeBoer, who specializes in sustainable materials, says bamboo-framed structures buttressed by earth or straw bale are viable in any climate, once isolated from the elements with a proper foundation.

But he says bamboo has the potential to make its greatest impact where its already found.

“If you can afford the high price of land in the states, you’re not going to worry about using low-cost building materials,” says DeBoer, who has hosted several workshops with Velez. “In contrast, the developing countries around the tropics need affordable housing, and the jobs that building with bamboo can generate.”


April 3, 2008

In preparation for the Annual Seed Exchange on June 21st , Nancy Redfeather is presenting this class to show you how to prepare your seeds.

April 12, 2008; 9 a.m. to 12p.m. Investment: $20; $5 Bishop Museum Members Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden; Captain Cook, HI

This new workshop being offered is taught by local organic farmer and ex-science teacher Nancy Redfeather. In this class you will learn how to collect and store seeds from your home culinary garden. Don’t buy vegetable seeds every year– learn how to grow and harvest your own! The class is $20 and $5 for Bishop Museum members.

Register with the Garden at (808) 323-3318 or agg@bishopmuseum.org <mailto:agg@bishopmuseum.org> . Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden is Bishop Museum’s native plant arboretum located in Captain Cook on Hawaii Island. The Garden is located twelve miles south of Kailua-Kona on Highway 11, just south of mile marker 110. The Garden welcomes all visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Admission to the Garden is by donation, suggested at $4.

Contract awarded to fix quake damage to gym in Kapa’au

March 5, 2008

The contract for the first phase of the earthquake repairs of the Ikuo Hisaoka Gymnasium at Kamehameha Park in Kapa’au has been awarded to Constructors Hawaii Inc., with work expected to begin in mid-March.

The gym will remain closed during the repairs, which are expected to be completed in mid-May, according to Big Island Department of Parks and Recreation officials.

Phase 1 will consist of removing debris from the October 2006 earthquake, clearing out the remaining ceiling tiles and light fixtures, and ensuring that the bleacher system is functioning properly. The major structural cracks and truss connections between the walls and columns in the gym as well as the kitchen and meeting rooms will be repaired. Phase 1 will restore the building to a safe condition so that further architectural and electrical work can occur during Phase 2.

Phase 1 is estimated to cost $351,000. Since the damage occurred as the result of the 2006 earthquake, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the repairs; the County of Hawai’i’s share is 25 percent.

Further architectural and electrical work will be included in Phase 2.


February 24, 2008

Amy Greenwell’s Botanical Gardens

March 15, 2008—9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“The Art of Plant Grafting” is a three hour workshop lead by horticultural master Sunao Kadooka, who can boast 75 years of grafting experience! Participants will learn the intricate skill of plant grafting and the many subtle techniques that will lead to a successful graft. Focus will be given to Hibiscus species, which are the easiest to graft, and fruit trees, which are the most popular.

The class is $20 and $5 for Bishop Museum members.
Register with the garden at (808) 323-3318 or agg@bishopmuseum.org
<mailto:agg@bishopmuseum.org> .

Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden is Bishop Museum’s native plant arboretum located in Captain Cook on Hawaii Island. The Garden is located twelve miles south of Kailua-Kona on Highway 11, just south of mile marker 110. The garden welcomes all visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Admission to the garden is by donation, suggested at $4.

PERMACULTURE: Designing for Self Reliance

February 24, 2008

Dates: Saturday, March 15th & Sunday, March 16th
Where: La’akea Permaculture Gardens (Pahoa)
Course Topics Include:
Whole-Systems Design, Water in the Landscape, Soil-Building, Nature Awareness, Native Land Stewardship, Disaster Preparedness, Food Production, Agroforestry
Tuition: $140-$180 (sliding scale).
Includes course handbook and delicious lunches.

Space is limited, so register early! A non-refundable deposit of $35 is required to reserve your space.

Lodging: Contact La’akea Community laakea@permaculture-hawaii.com or call 443-4076

Zach Mermel & Jeffrey Adams, course co-facilitators, are Certified Permaculture Design Consultants. They have both served as co-directors of the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT), an ecological living demonstration project at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California.

For more information or to register: Contact Zach Mermel at zam2@humboldt. edu or call (808) 987-1816.