Down on the farm on Maui – San Jose Mercury News

We were poking around upcountry Maui and driving its narrow, twisting roads, but by midafternoon we had to turn around. We had an important date at a lower elevation.

Forget meeting friends for mai-tais or heading to Lahaina for the sunset. We were going to herd the animals at Surfing Goat Dairy.

Herding anything may be the last activity one considers for a Maui vacation. But the dairy is one of several island farms that have opened for public tours over the last few years. They offer the chance to explore the island’s back roads, meet the growers and learn something about the exotic fruits, vegetables and cheeses you’ll encounter and enjoy on Maui.

“It’s a growing national trend,” says Maui resident Charlene Kauhane, a board member of the Hawaii Agri-Tourism Association. “Visitors are looking for authentic experiences, for opportunities where they can meet locals and buy local.”

And sometimes, you just want a break from the beach. So let’s go down on the farm on Maui.

Alii Kula Lavender Farm

Even before you arrive, you’ll detect Alii Kula Lavender Farm from the lovely fragrance wafting over Upcountry. It comes from 45 lavender varieties planted over 10 acres in Haleakala’s foothills. You can meander over paths on your own, or join one of the walking tours. You’ll learn about lavender’s culinary uses and healthful benefits, as well as the farm’s dedication to practicing agriculture in a sustainable way.

Alii Lavender also offers workshops in wreath making and container gardens, and other special events.

Archive planned at national park

KAHULUI – A new archive of thousands of documents that will be available to researchers, will be the next major addition to Haleakala National Park, Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said Wednesday.

In a “state of the park” talk sponsored by the Friends of Haleakala National Park, Creachbaum said construction had already started on the small “curatorial center” near the park’s entrance and headquarters. About 30 people showed up to hear the presentation at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, where Creachbaum also discussed the park’s visitor counts and funding.

Matt Brown, the park’s new chief of protecting endangered species, said the 800-square-foot archive building will bring together many objects that have gone unseen for years. Many of the items will be coming out of storage and some from collections, such as the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, he said.

In addition to being held in the archive, the pieces will occasionally be put on display in public buildings around the grounds of the 96-year-old park – as they are already from time to time. The archive center itself generally will be off-limits to the public and require park authorization for access, Brown said.

The collection has about 197,600 objects, 96 percent of which consist of archival records, such as documents and photographs, said P. Russell Shurtz, museum technician for Haleakala National Park.

Pampas grass is an invasive, prolific plant

In the early 1870s, an enterprising nurseryman in Southern California imported a tall, clumping grass with distinctive feathery plumes to his ranch. Over the next several decades, he created an entire industry for the plumes of the plant called pampas grass.

At the height of the plume boom, he was exporting 500,000 plumes a year throughout the United States and Europe, influencing Victorian-era fashion. By the close of the 19th century, pampas plumes were dyed different colors to fill vases, decorate women’s hats and cover parade floats. Eventually the trend ended, but pampas has been used in landscaping ever since.

This invasive grass is anything but fashionable. Now, rather than topping hats and decorating parade floats, the 10-foot-tall feathery plumes top clumps of razor-sharp leaves throughout California. Pampas grass blocks beach access, fuels wildfires and invades native ecosystems. Introduced to Maui in the 1920s, pampas has proved invasive here as well.

Hawaii has two so-called “pampas grass” species: Cortaderia selloana and Cortaderia jubata. Both species of pampas grass have been planted widely in landscaping throughout California, where every backyard population is now a seed source for this invasive plant. Both species also are found on Maui, and jubata has become extremely invasive.

Rare Maui bird gets new name – kiwikiu

Conservationists, Hawaiian scholars and state and federal officials are holding a blessing and naming ceremony for one of Maui’s rarest birds.

The endangered avian species has been known as the Maui parrotbill.

On Sunday it’s due to be formally bestowed with the Hawaiian name kiwikiu in a ceremony at Haleakala National Park.

The Hawaiian Lexicon Committee — a body that finds Hawaiian words for things, beings and concepts — accepted kiwikiu as the name in May.

Scientists estimate there are only about 500 kikiwiu remaining in the wild.

The stocky, honeycreeper is olive-green and has a yellow breast. The birds have a short tail and a relatively large parrot-like bill.

Rare Maui bird gets new name _ kiwikiu