Amira’s Prolific Pumpkins

Although not certified organic, Olana Farm grows produce on 2.25-acres using strictly organic methods.

What’s growing now

Arugula, avocado, basil (Thai, Italian, lemon), bak choy, beets, carrots, celery, chard (Swiss, rainbow), chives, cilantro, collards, fennel, green onions, ginger, guava, kale (curly, lacinato, red Russian, red curly), kaffir (leaves, fruit), mint, mustard greens (red, green), oregano, pak choi, papaya (green sunrise), pak choi (baby green, baby purple), parsley (Italian, curly), passionfruit, pea shoots, pineapple (white), pumpkin, rosemary, tangelo, thyme, tomatoes (cherry red, yellow pear), turmeric, turnips (white, red), yacón.

Amira Pumpkin 

“This variety was selected from seeds that were saved because they are adapted to Hawaii and resist powdery mildew and being stung by the fruit fly,” says Tom O’Connor. “We liken it to a tender butternut squash, but it has thin skin and sweet, tender flesh. We named it after my wife, Amira.”

Amira pumpkins have a deep gold, creamy interior that’s sweet and full of seeds, which can be planted in home gardens. You don’t need to peel them because the skin is smooth and tender enough to eat.

Pumpkins are a prolific crop and a medium sized one can make up to eight meals. They are considered a winter squash because they are harvested in late summer and early fall, and keep throughout the winter.


Amira pumpkins take up to three months to go from seed to table. On Kauai, they are available from spring through summer and possibly into fall.

What to look for

Select pumpkins that are hard, heavy and free of soft spots. External skin blemishes do not compromise the integrity of the flesh. Stems should be attached, otherwise bacteria gets inside and spoils the flesh.


Store on a counter out of direct sunlight. O’Connor says pumpkins stored this way will keep for a few weeks.


Seeds make an excellent snack food. Scoop out the pulp and seeds and spread the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Lightly roast at 160 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Roasting for a relatively short time at a low temperature minimizes damage to healthy oils. 


Purchasing pumpkins may seem expensive, but they are worth every penny. I used my pumpkin in four meals: the pilaf below, a kale and caramelized onion tart, ravioli (made with wonton wrappers) and a Thai coconut soup.

Unapproved pesticide found in basil from Ewa farm

An Ewa farm has been ordered by the state Health Department to cease the sale of basil because it was using unapproved pesticide.

The basil will be destroyed today at FAT Law’s Farm three-acre farm in Ewa. The farm also maintains a farm in Kunia.

FAT Law’s Farm, Inc. was notified Tuesday to cease the sale of all suspect basil after test revealed the presence of the pesticide methomyl. There is a zero tolerance for methomyl on basil, a pesticide that is not approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on basil.

Basil samples were collected on FAT’s Ewa farm on April 12. The results received from the state laboratory on April 16 indicated a range of 0.045 to 3.49 parts per million (ppm) of methomyl.

Additional samples from the Kunia farm were collected on Tuesday and analyzed for the presence of methomyl. Results received on Thursday indicated a range from non-detectable to 0.507 ppm of methomyl on the basil.

No basil will be allowed to be sold by the farm until subsequent samples indicate zero levels of methomyl.

The Health Department believes that the basil crops tested on April 12 and 17 may have been distributed to consumers in Hawaii. However, since the pesticide is allowed in greater amounts on other crops, the department does not consider the situation to be a significant threat to public health. Methomyl is approved by the EPA for use on a variety of vegetables and has an allowable range from 1 ppm for tomatoes up to 6 ppm for parsley leaves. There is a zero tolerance for methomyl on basil.

Unapproved pesticide found in basil from Ewa farm – Hawaii News – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Basil bane putting bite on business

The first-ever fungus infestation of Hawaii’s $6.8 million sweet basil crop discovered late last week has started affecting some businesses while farmers scramble to save their fields.

Most of Hawaii’s sweet basil crop is grown across Oahu and farmers are hastily pruning back their plants and applying fungicide to combat “basil downy mildew” after the pathogen Peronospora belbahrii was confirmed Friday on multiple farms in Waianae, according to the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

It has since been spotted on farms in Ewa and Waimanalo, said Jari Sugano, a UH extension agent who works with commercial farmers in the field.

Ba-Le Sandwiches & Bakery already has seen a price increase in its sweet basil purchases and will bear the extra costs for now, said operations manager Trung Lam.

“We definitely do use a lot of basil — we have basil in drinks and a lot of food items, as well,” Lam said. “We have to absorb it (price increase) for a little while. We can’t just raise prices tomorrow.”

Foodland Super Markets has turned to sweet basil imports, rather than locally grown sweet basil, spokeswoman Sheryl Toda said.

She was told the shortage of local sweet basil is due to the recent rain and “we expect to receive our normal delivery next week.”

The recent cool weather and heavy rain were a factor because they created a friendly environment for Peronospora belbahrii to latch onto the sweet basil leaves