Sweetpotato Varietal Trial Field Day Enormous Success

For this trial 12 varieties of Sweetpotato were measured for the Marketable Yield and Weevil damaged per variety.

The participants of the Field Day provided information on each varieties appearance, taste, and texture - yes, each participant was provided with cooked samples of each variety!

This Trial was to help growers make decisions to determine which variety of sweetpotato to invest their efforts in for the various markets.

The sweeter varieties were more marketable for various reasons but were prone to insect damage.

Dr. Rosemary Gutierrez-Coarite Ph.D. surveys the rows of sweetpotato grown for the Varietal Trial.
Ernest Rezents, Professor Emeritus Maui College and former head of the MCC Agriculture Department, looks for Rough Weevil damage as the typical damage done by Sweetpotato Weevil is displayed by Dr. Gutierrez-Coarite.

Hawaiian ‘Uala Varieties – Online Research Presentation

Date:July 10, 2021
To register:
email info@mnbg.org or call 808-249-2798
Suggested Donation:$10

Hawaiian ‘Uala (Sweet Potato) varieties have not been extensively characterized since E.S. Handy’s archipelago-wide collections from Hawaiian farmers in the early 20th century, and the conservation status of what was likely well over 100 Hawaiian cultivars remains unclear today.

A recent study titled Characterizing the Diversity of Hawai‘i Sweet Potatoes published in the Journal of Economic Botany attempts to understand, through molecular tools, the relatedness and genetic diversity of old Hawaiian cultivars of ‘uala relative to other varieties in local cultivation.

In this live online presentation, Aurora K. Kagawa-Viviani will share the findings of her research to better understand Hawaiian ‘uala varieties using information on plant genetics and characteristics. Following the presentation, we invite audience members to join an open discussion to reflect on what this tells us about Hawaiian agricultural and cultural history and to suggest ideas to support future increased local cultivation of a diversity of ‘uala for home and commercial production.

About Aurora
Aurora K. Kagawa-Viviani is an ecohydrology researcher on a joint project of the UH-Hilo Hawai‘i Cooperative Studies Unit, USGS- Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, and the UH Mānoa Water Resources Research Center.

Wild pigs have huge impact on biodiversity

Star Advertiser
By Timothy Hurley

Hawaii conservationists know well the far-reaching impact of wild pigs on the environment. The non-native species is notorious for rambling through the forest as herbivore, top predator and ecosystem engineer, digging and rooting in the soil to help transform the natural landscape.

A team of researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Australia has found that wild pigs have a huge impact on biodiversity around the world but perhaps none greater than on islands.

As it turns out, Polynesia was the most threatened region globally with nearly 20% of all species affected by wild pigs, the study found.

The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports following a multiyear effort combing through data in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

“We found that in addition to the over 300 plant species threatened by wild pigs globally, wild pigs actively predate and destroy critical nesting sites for hundreds of threatened and endangered reptiles, amphibians and birds,” said lead author Derek Risch, a wildlife spatial planner in the Hawaii Wildlife Ecology Lab in UH’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management.

In total, wild pigs were found to threaten 672 species in 54 countries across the globe. Most of these taxa are listed as critically endangered or endangered, and 14 species have been driven to extinction as a direct result of impacts from wild pigs.

That puts feral pigs up there with some of the word’s most problematic species with similar global distribution, including feral cats, rodents, mongooses and wild dogs.

“I’m hoping to draw more attention to the global impact of wild pigs,” Risch said, adding that those impacts are actually poorly understood in comparison with some of the other invasives.

The researchers found that wild pigs affect similar numbers of species in both North America and Europe despite the fact that pigs are native to Europe and considered invasive to North America.

But island endemic species are particularly vulnerable, according to the study, especially plants, reptiles and amphibians.

Risch said islands evolved without similar omnivores, and they have a propensity to host higher densities of pigs that cause all kinds of environmental havoc in the wild.

Pigs, or puaa, were brought to Hawaii by the Polynesians many centuries ago. Capt. James Cook brought European breeds in the late 1700s, which were released into the wild, and it eventually made the Hawaiian pigs bigger.

Today the puaa continues to make for outstanding hunting, but natural-resource managers are erecting fences and taking other measures to prevent the pigs from further degrading the landscape. Hunters and land managers often work together, but conflicts have been known to erupt.

Risch, who also has been modeling the distribution of hoofed animals across Hawaii, said the study highlights the importance of different groups working together to come up with solutions for managing the wild pigs.

“Hunters are essential,” he said. “They play a crucial role in managing the pigs.”

The study found that wild pigs rank close to feral cats in terms of the number of species affected, despite a well-deserved reputation regarding cats as the most detrimental invasive predator to island ecosystems.

A previous assessment, according to the paper, had identified 175 species threatened by feral cats on islands, while the latest study found that wild pigs threaten at least 131 species (63 reptiles, 65 birds, three mammals).

Given the role of wild pigs as both a top predator and destructive herbivore, their additional threats to plant and invertebrate taxa make them a serious cause for concern and indicate major ecosystem-level impacts, the study said.

Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation grant supports outdoor service learning with seed storage and propagation

Maui Nui Botanical Gardens was granted $7,000 from the Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation in support of high school and college student outdoor service learning in native Hawaiian seed storage and plant propagation. Garden staff will train and supervise volunteers in preparing wild collected seeds for drying and propagating native plants from the Garden’s plant collection. The public native plant garden manages a seed bank for Maui County native plant populations, which provides conservation land managers materials for research and future restoration. Space is limited; students enrolled in high school or college who are seeking volunteer experience required for graduation are encouraged to call Maui Nui Botanical Gardens at 808-249-2798.

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Hawaii’s Next Wave of Natural Skin-Care Brands

New York Times Style Magazine
By Jess Cole –

A new generation of beauty companies is rediscovering the islands’ powerful native ingredients, from taro to ferns.

It is not altogether surprising that Hawaii is at the forefront of our current golden age of natural skin care, in which botanical face oils and mushroom-infused elixirs abound. Few places on Earth contain such a diversity of plant species, and Hawaiians have been using this bounty — including nutrient-rich varieties such as hibiscus, coconut, ferns and kukui nuts — as a source of nourishment and healing for generations. Indeed, plants have been prized on the islands since the first millennium A.D., when the ancient Polynesians arrived by canoe, bringing with them life-sustaining crops such as taro, breadfruit and sweet potato. And though centuries of colonization have done their best to erode this deep-rooted connection to the natural world, it has endured. In fact, for many of the founders of the latest wave of Hawaii-based skin-care lines, using locally sourced botanical ingredients is simply common sense, part of a reciprocal, age-old relationship between the islands and their inhabitants.

Ke’oni Hanalei, a native Hawaiian, spent much of his early childhood in the garden of his grandmother, a medicine woman, on Maui’s southwestern coast. As he watched her tend her plants, she would teach him about their therapeutic properties (hibiscus for purifying the blood, kalamoho fern for sparking creativity) and how to, as she would say, “Ka nani pulama,” or “cherish their beauty.” Today, these lessons inform Pohala, Hanalei’s Maui- and Kauai-based range of oils and tinctures made with indigenous Hawaiian ingredients including both hibiscus and ferns. The brand’s Lakana Medicinal Body Spray ($17), for example, is infused with handpicked la’au kalakala, a thorny shrub with small yellow flowers that has long been believed to support the nervous system. “We have this code of conduct in our culture, huna, which means ‘secrecy,’” says Hanalei, referring to the safeguarding of ancient Hawaiian traditions. “Our families lived by this through the Western influence, and it is why a lot of our records are well preserved.”

Chelsa Davis, who is also of Hawaiian heritage and grew up by the ocean in Kailua, on the Big Island, feels a similar responsibility for preservation. She founded her skin-care line AO Organics Hawaii in Honokaa in 2017 in part to educate her community about the impact of oxybenzone, a typical ingredient in chemical sunscreens, on the archipelago’s marine life. (A 2015 study revealed that up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in reefs each year, and that the reef located in Hawaii’s popular Hanauma Bay is one of the most at risk in the world.) Accordingly, the line’s first product was the mineral-based Liquid Reef-Safe Sunscreen ($28), which uses zinc oxide, rather than harmful chemicals, to block the sun’s rays. It is infused, too, with organic beeswax, which Davis sources from the local producers Wai Meli and 808 Honey, to boost hydration. “Honey produces a natural form of glycerin, which attracts water to your skin,” says Davis, who also uses the ingredient in her anti-inflammatory, turmeric-rich Olena + Honey Foaming Cleanser ($30) and her lightweight papaya seed and babassu oil-based ?Ili Hydration Moisturizer ($32). “It is a gift from the creatures that give life to the island.”

“Sustainability is already a part of the tradition here,” says Leala Humbert, who has run the natural beauty line Ua Body with her husband, Blaine Kusler, on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast since taking the 30-year-old company over from her mother in 2019. In an effort to support the island’s ecosystem, the couple collaborates closely with the Hawaii Sandalwood company, a family-owned reforestation business working to replenish the Big Island’s sandalwood forests — which have been depleted by invasive species and overharvesting — in part by extracting oil from dying trees, a process that naturally prompts the growth of new ones. The liquid, which is believed to aid relaxation, is a key ingredient in Ua Body’s Iliahi Dry Oil ($48), a nourishing body moisturizer with a subtle, earthy aroma.

Similarly, the inclusion of macadamia oil in the antioxidant-rich ‘Opio Anti Aging Mano’i elixir (from $16) and intensely moisturizing Moha Beautifying Concrete Gelèe (from $14) from Oshan Essentials arose from founder Shelley Leemor’s desire to work sustainably, repurposing the imperfect nuts discarded by a local processing factory. “Macadamia oil is a nourishing, essential fatty acid that isn’t comedogenic,” says Leemor, who moved to Hawaii from the mainland 10 years ago, and launched her company in 2017 on a seven-acre farm on Maui’s North Shore. Powered solely by the sun and using water collected from rainfall, her entire manufacturing process is carbon neutral, and she grows many of the company’s botanicals, such as turmeric, papayas and guavas, on site.

Like macadamia trees, which were introduced to the islands in the late 19th century, the moringa tree is an originally nonnative species that has thrived in Hawaii. Brought over in the early 1900s by Filipino immigrants who came to work on the islands’ sugar cane fields, it is a nutritional powerhouse whose delicate green leaves are widely used in Hawaiian cooking and restorative teas. But it’s the cold-pressed oil made from the husks of the moringa seeds that features most prominently in the skin-care products from Maruyama Jones Farm in Kailua, on the Big Island. Co-founded by husband and wife Geoff and Misa Maruyama Jones in 2016, the company is based on a five-acre farm run by Misa’s family. “We do not own the land, we are in a relationship with the land,” says Misa, who is of Filipino heritage. “We are all akin to the plants, the animals, the soil and even the microorganisms in the soil.” Accordingly, the farm works on a regenerative model of sustainability, whereby organic compost made from local green waste and spirulina generates the nutrients for the moringa trees. Each bottle of the couple’s Moringa Seed Oil ($50), a hydrating all-in-one product for both the skin and the hair, is derived from nearly 400 hand-selected seeds grown on site and husked by Geoff himself.

The Oahu-based apothecary Indigo Elixirs, founded by the Armenian-American herbalist Deanna Rose Ahigian, also makes use of Hawaii’s potent native plants — in this case, those of the Manoa Valley, where Ahigian lives — but it strives to reflect, too, the diversity of Hawaii’s residents. The brand caters to a range of skin tones and hair types — its pikake-infused Moon All Over Oil ($27) is a silky serum designed to rehydrate thicker and Afro-textured hair — and many of its ingredients are inspired by “the strong Asian influences here,” says Ahigian. The line’s detoxifying Matcha Kalo Mask ($22), for example, contains rice flour, which is commonly found in South Korean skin-care products, as well as antioxidant-rich Japanese green tea powder. But another key ingredient is taro. Not only has this starchy root vegetable long been a form of sustenance in Hawaii but it also has anti-inflammatory properties. “And I wanted to use it,” Ahigian says, “because it’s the most sacred plant in Hawaiian mythology.” Indeed, like so many of the islands’ plants, it has been revered for millennia precisely because of its usefulness.

Rare Native Succulent Test – We Will be Giving Away Free Peperomia Mauiensis Plants

Please help us test a very rare native succulent as an indoor plant. We will be giving away free Peperomia mauiensis plants on Saturday, December 12, 2020 from 9-11 am at the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens and following up with a survey. Plants and survey will be given on a first-come-first-serve basis. Please line up at the entrance to the Gardens and follow COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing masks and staying 6 ft apart. Aside from filling out an initial survey, we also request respondents to complete a follow-up survey 6 months after receiving the plant. We look forward to your participation. Mahalo! #peperomiamauiensis #consumersurvey #maui

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Hannah Lutgen

Junior Extension Agent, Landscape and Floriculture
University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR)
Maui Cooperative Extension
310 Kaahumanu Ave, Blg 214
Kahului, HI 96732
(808)-244-3242 ext.233

Culinary arts students participate in ‘ulu project

Maui News
Lui K. Hokoana –

One of the “canoe crops” brought by Polynesians to Hawaii, possibly as early as the third century, ‘ulu (breadfruit) is a food decidedly suited to our times. The mature fruit is a nutritious and adaptable substitute for a potato. It can be boiled, steamed, baked, fried, even made into crunchy ‘ulu chips. Maybe some of you opted for mashed ‘ulu rather than the traditional mashed potatoes on your Thanksgiving table. Young fruit can be pickled. Ripe — even overripe — fruit is sweet and creamy and delicious in desserts. The wood from ‘ulu trees is light in weight and was multipurpose in ancient Hawaii. The National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Breadfruit Institute at Kahanu Gardens in Hana grows almost 100 varieties.

And those ‘ulu trees in Hana is where this story begins. It may appear to be a long — LONG — way from raising bison on the Great Plains of the U.S. Mainland to cultivating ‘ulu in Hana. But agriculture is agriculture, according to Hana Ranch Manager Duane Lammers who actually traveled that road. “John Cadman (a chef and one of Maui’s most ardent ‘ulu advocates) brought us our first trees from Kahanu Gardens and he introduced us to the ‘Ulu Co-Operative on Hawaii island,” explains Lammers.

“This is the third year of production and of our 100 trees, 87 are producing full tilt,” says Lammers. The fruit has to be shipped to the co-op on Hawaii island for processing, which is unwieldy at best. “With all the disruption Young Brothers was starting to experience when the pandemic hit us, I knew it was going to get worse.” When he expressed that concern to Chef Gary Johnson, who has worked at several Maui restaurants and has done a lot of work with the Ranch, Johnson introduced him to Chris Speere who heads up our Maui Food Innovation Center.

“I’d been through the Maui Food Innovation program myself,” says Johnson who is now the garden coordinator for Grow Some Good, a program in multiple Maui schools. “Fortunately, I knew a lot of the players who would need to be involved. Along with Chris, we were able to fast track the partnership, including with the Department of Health.”

And so one Saturday morning in early October, a truck pulled up to the loading dock at the Food Innovation Center and delivered about 2,000 pounds (yes, a ton) of ‘ulu. Several of our culinary arts students were waiting. Over the course of the weekend — under the supervision of Speere and Johnson — they washed it, weighed it, cooked it in 350-pound batches to an internal temperature of 135 degrees Fahreheit, cut the ‘ulu in half, put them on sheet trays on rolling racks, rolled them into the walk-in refrigerator, cooled them, quartered them, seeded them, weighed them again, and froze them. The following week, they were packed in 10-pound bags, then 40-pound cases, labeled and put back into the freezer. Ready to distribute. Ready to prepare, serve, and eat. That process has taken place every weekend since then and will continue through December.

Jacob Devlin is in his final semester of our Culinary Arts Program. “A friend of mine was working with Nicolette van der Lee (director of the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui) who was looking for someone to work with native Hawaiian vegetables and plants. I was introduced to Chris Speere and started working on the ‘ulu project.” he says. “I had never heard of ‘ulu before. Now, I’ve experimented with it in stir-fries and even in desserts. And I’ve made ‘ulu scones!”

First year culinary arts student Phrincess Constantino wasn’t really familiar with ‘ulu, either. “In high school, I had worked with Chris Speere on an internship at the Innovation Center. So, when one of my professors asked if anyone was interested in the ‘ulu project, I thought it would be a good way to get some experience in a commercial kitchen. It’s been a good and interesting experience.”

The upshot? “With little lead time, the college provided us great information, leadership, and enthusiastic students,” says Lammers. “It all serves as proof of concept for us and we’re now looking at the possibility of building a processing plant for ‘ulu and for other products, as well, right here in Hana.”

And for Chef Johnson? “My purpose in this is to create a strong channel of locally grown canoe crops to be able to proliferate on the island for our food security and sustainability. And I want ‘ulu to replace the potato in our diets.”

Oh, and those tons of ‘ulu? They’re being sold commercially by VIP Foodservice.

Sometimes it takes a village. And sometimes it takes an island.

For information about our Maui Food Innovation Center, please visit maui.hawaii.edu/foodinnovation; for more information about our Culinary Arts Program, please visit maui.hawaii.edu/culinary.

Community celebrates native species with Hawaiʻi Nei Art Exhibition

Hawaii Tribune Herald

The 12th annual Hawai‘i Nei Art Exhibition commenced with an open house celebration Nov. 6 at the Wailoa Center. Local artists of all ages entered pieces of art celebrating the native flora and fauna of Hawaii Island.

Winners of this year’s juried exhibition for the adult divisions included Kathleen Mishina (Jurors’ Choice), Lynn Capell, Susan Champeny, Robin Scanlon, Noah Gomes, Jan Taylor, Avalon Paradea, Scott Gorrell, Maria Macias, Emily Herb, Melisa Hicks and Mark Somers, Connie Simon, Margaret Russo, Kathleen Carr, Cody Yamaguchi, Lanaya Deily, Heidi Fickinger, Alex Wang and Andy Fiefarek.

Winners for this year’s youth divisions included Jasmine Christie (Juror’s Choice), Lewis Cameron, Jennie Kau, Kahea Levita, ‘Opua Kern, Hawelelani Camara, Sarah Kau, Jordyn Osorio, Quincy Tobey, Keoni Kamaki Cummins, Celina Chen, Miley Auth, Madelyn Awaya, Tess Hagan, Ella Mettler, Harper Highfill, Hayden Takiue, Eden Tobey, Claire Texeira and Ka ‘Umeke Ka‘eo.

Artwork will be displayed from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Wailoa Center from now through Dec. 10 as well as 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 5. The Wailoa Center is closed on holidays.

COVID-19 safety protocols are enforced during the exhibition. Everyone must wear a mask when entering the Wailoa Center and maintain social distancing by following posted signs and floor markings. The center thanks the public in advance for its patience and understanding.

A virtual tour of the exhibition can be viewed at www.hawaiineiartcontest.org.

Arbor Day expo culminates with drive-thru tree giveaway

The Maui News
In partnership with Hawaiian Electric and Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program, Maui Nui Botanical Gardens and the Maui Association of Landscape Professionals will host an extended and virtual Arbor Day Garden Expo from Wednesday to Friday, culminating in an Island wide Nursery Open House and Drive-Thru Tree Giveaway from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 7 at the War Memorial Gymnasium parking lot in Wailuku.

This year’s event will feature online lectures, presentations and webinars from certified arborists, landscaping professionals and local conservations organizations. Topics include everything from proper tree planting and care to seed starting and storage for native plants.

The annual 1,000 Hawaiian Tree Giveaway will be a socially-distanced, drive-thru event. Residents are asked to reserve their trees at arbordayexpo.com.

Trees are limited to one per email address and must be reserved online. To reduce traffic on Nov. 7, reservations are in one-hour increments and residents are asked to enter the event by turning right from Kanaloa Avenue onto Halia Nakoa Street. Left turns will not be permitted.