Heat Hampers Colombian Coffee Crop, Jeopardizing Supply

TIMBÍO, Colombia — Like most of the small landowners in Colombia’s lush mountainous Cauca region, Luis Garzón, 80, and his family have thrived for decades by supplying shade-grown, rainforest-friendly Arabica coffee for top foreign brands like Nespresso and Green Mountain. A sign in the center of a nearby town proclaims, “The coffee of Cauca is No. 1!”

But in the last few years, coffee yields have plummeted here and in many of Latin America’s other premier coffee regions as a result of rising temperatures and more intense and unpredictable rains, phenomena that many scientists link partly to global warming.

Coffee plants require the right mix of temperature, rainfall and spells of dryness for beans to ripen properly and maintain their taste. Coffee pests thrive in the warmer, wetter weather.

Bean production at the Garzóns’ farm is therefore down 70 percent from five years ago, leaving the family little money for clothing for toddlers and “thinking twice” about sending older children to college, said Mr. Garzon’s 44-year-old son, Albeiro, interviewed in a yellow stucco house decorated with coffee posters and madonnas.

The shortage of high-end Arabica coffee beans is also being felt in New York supermarkets and Paris cafes, as customers blink at escalating prices. Purveyors fear that the Arabica coffee supply from Colombia may never rebound — that the world might, in effect, hit “peak coffee.”

Send in the Fronds

THE Archbishop John Ireland used to pray in my kitchen — or so the neighbors say. Long before it was my attic apartment, this space was reportedly his home chapel in St. Paul, Minn.

A giant of American Catholicism in the early 20th century, Archbishop Ireland gave the Twin Cities a pair of monumental churches, the Basilica of St. Mary and the Cathedral of Saint Paul. He left me something humbler: a third-floor walk-up with sloping bead board ceilings and dormer windows.

These cubbies, carved into the wainscoting, look as if they were meant to display something. But what? A domed canary cage? A bust of St. Polycarp, patron saint of earache sufferers?

The other day, I experienced something like an epiphany. What the kitchen needed was a hanging fern.

A few decades ago, the plant to buy would have been obvious: a Boston fern. Anyone would recognize Nephrolepis exaltata. It’s the ferny-looking fern — the one with the long, shaggy ruffles of greenery, cascading like a fondue fountain.

The Boston fern is not without its merits, noted Tom Stuart, proprietor of the Hardy Fern Library, an online taxonomical guide.

“There’s almost no way to kill a Boston fern,”

If Only Chocolate Grew on Trees

If Only Chocolate Grew on Trees

…or does it?

…By Fern Gavelek –

Mmmmmm……chocolate! Many people consider it one of the major food groups. And with good reason—it not only tastes good, but makes you feel good while boasting health benefits.

The botanical source of chocolate is cacao (pronounced ka-cow); the tree’s genus, Theobroma, is derived from Greek theo (god) and brosi (food), meaning “food of the Gods.” Theobromine, a stimulant, is an alkaloid of the cacao bean that’s used medicinally as a vasodilator (widens blood vessels), heart stimulant and diuretic.

No longer just a guilty pleasure, chocolate possesses cacao flavonoids with potent antioxidant capability. Increasing evidence confirms cacao’s ability to inhibit the oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL) by 75 percent. These flavonoids have also been linked to immune system health.

With all these attributes, it seems like everyone should be growing cacao in their backyard and whipping up a batch of chocolate once a week. Right? The reality is, first, that cacao grows best at about 20 degrees north or south of the equator, and Hawai‘i is at the far northern edge of that range. Furthermore, concocting chocolate from cacao is a measured, multi-step process.


Press Release by:

Councilmember Donald G. Couch, Jr.

March 8, 2011



Wailuku, Hawaii – Councilmember Don Couch announced today that he will be holding a public meeting on Monday, March 14th to address comments and concerns from the community and to discuss alternatives to the removal of four monkeypod trees fronting the Maui Schooner Resort at 980 S. Kihei Road. Representatives from the Mayor’s Office and Department of Parks and Recreation have been invited to attend this meeting.

The meeting will take place on Monday, March 14, 2011, from 6:00 – 8:00p.m. at the Kihei Charter School’s 6th Grade Building located in the Lipoa Center at 41 E. Lipoa Street, Kihei, Hawaii.

For more information, please contact Councilmember Couch’s office at 270-7108.


Susan S. Clements
Executive Assistant
Office of Councilmember Don Couch
Email: susan.clements@mauicounty.us
Phone: 808-270-7108 Fax: 808-270-7119

UH gardening gurus set invasive-species classes

Hawaii gardeners have the advantage of a year-round growing season that allows us to pick up plants any time of year and add them to our backyard collection. And local garden centers carry an abundance of ornamental shrubs, trees and herbs from which to choose.

The University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service wants to help home gardeners to be knowledgeable when choosing plant material. The UH Master Gardeners on Oahu have teamed up with the Hawaii Invasive Species Council to provide classes and demonstrations to the public. (See the Star-Advertiser’s Home & Garden calendar for class listings.)

What is an invasive species? Technically, according to HISC, an invasive species is an alien species — plant, animal, or microbe transported by humans to a location outside its native range — whose introduction has caused or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.

Basically, foreign plant material that propagates at warp speed and those seeds or plant parts that can travel long distances to naturally forested areas are termed invasive. These plants often demonstrate rapid and aggressive growth, production of numerous seeds that are spread easily by wind, wing or water, and the ability to grow under many different soil and climatic conditions.

What is the impact of invasive species? It’s the plants whose “keiki” reach the natural forested areas that take the largest toll on our native species and ecosystems. They threaten native plant habitats, reducing the number of native plants and affecting plant biodiversity, as well as the insect biodiversity that depends on those plants.

Maui Association of Landscape Professionals

MALP Educational Meeting—Free to the public

Date: Tuesday March 22, 2011

Place: Maui Community Service Bldg next to CTHAR Extension Services (Map) on the UH Maui campus.

Time: Pupus will be served at 6:30 pm and the talk will begin at 7:00.


by Heidi Leianuenue Bornhorst, garden columnist for the Honolulu Star Advertiser and author of the book: Growing Native Hawaiian Plants.

Heidi’s presentation is entitled PLANT PONO , in which she will speak and show a PowerPoint about the new and upcoming Plant Pono website, a tool to help grow and nurture our green industry of Hawaii and our forests and natural areas as well, by growing, designing, planting and maintaining high value plants that are not invasive weeds.

Heidi’s credentials also include serving as Landscape Director at the Hale Koa Hotel; Director/Supervisor/Plant Propagator at the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, Nature Conservancy Hawaii Oahu/ Lanai Preserves Manager; Education Coordinator HPCC/National Tropical Botanical garden; Horticulturalist, Sustainable Landscape Designer & Consultant, Arborist, and VIP Tour Guide.

She specializes in native Hawaiian and drought tolerant plants, and sustainable and edible landscapes. Heidi is also a Founding and Board member of the Halawa Xeriscape Garden.

Maui Association of Landscape Professionals

New Generation of Farmers Emerges in Oregon

CORVALLIS, Ore. — For years, Tyler Jones, a livestock farmer here, avoided telling his grandfather how disillusioned he had become with industrial farming.

After all, his grandfather had worked closely with Earl L. Butz, the former federal secretary of agriculture who was known for saying, “Get big or get out.”

But several weeks before his grandfather died, Mr. Jones broached the subject. His grandfather surprised him. “You have to fix what Earl and I messed up,” Mr. Jones said his grandfather told him.

Now, Mr. Jones, 30, and his wife, Alicia, 27, are among an emerging group of people in their 20s and 30s who have chosen farming as a career. Many shun industrial, mechanized farming and list punk rock, Karl Marx and the food journalist Michael Pollan as their influences. The Joneses say they and their peers are succeeding because of Oregon’s farmer-foodie culture, which demands grass-fed and pasture-raised meats.

“People want to connect more than they can at their grocery store,” Ms. Jones said. “We had a couple who came down from Portland and asked if they could collect their own eggs. We said, ‘O.K., sure.’ They want to trust their producer, because there’s so little trust in food these days.”

Garry Stephenson, coordinator of the Small Farms Program at Oregon State University, said he had not seen so much interest among young people in decades. “It’s kind of exciting,”

In Price of Farmland, Echoes of Another Boom

he 80 acres of rich farmland that Jeff Freking and his brother Randy bought near Le Mars, Iowa, on Monday for $10,000 an acre would seem to have nothing in common with a condo in Miami or a house in Las Vegas.

But as prices for agricultural land surge across America’s grain belt, regulators are warning that a new real estate bubble may be forming — echoing the frothy boom in home prices that saw values in Miami and Las Vegas skyrocket and then plummet.

“It just seems to be going up in leaps and bounds here,” said Jeff Freking, who bought a similar farm, also in northwestern Iowa, for $6,000 an acre just two years ago. “Everybody thinks it’s crazy.”

The surge in prices has been dizzying throughout the Midwest, with double-digit percentage increases last year in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska. In parts of Iowa, prices for good farmland rose as much as 23 percent last year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Just a few years ago, farmers marveled as land prices began to rise in response to demand for corn to make ethanol. More recently, soaring prices for wheat, corn, soybeans and other crops have driven the increase. Corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade closed at $7.27 a bushel on Tuesday, up from $3.70 a year earlier. Soybean futures were $13.67, up from $9.52 cents on March 1 last year. Average grain prices, adjusted for inflation, are nearing the giddy levels they reached in the late 1970s, the peak of the last disastrous boom-and-bust cycle for agricultural land.