Maui No Ka Oi

Title translation:   Maui – there’s none better.

If today’s Vogue article, Farm Hopping in Maui  is any indication, Island Farm Tours and Ecological Farming are going mainstream.

I’m proud to live here because deep caring for the land and sea and future generations is embedded in the true politics of Hawai’i.  Because of Aloha, Hawai’i voted overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders in the primaries. And here on Maui, we are now witnessing the historic unity fo farmers and regular citizens (eaters) to oppose local GMO research production fields, to create county-wide goals for food sustainability targets, and to establish structures such as co-ops to support land based learning and local food production and distribution systems.

It’s worth celebrating the new unified vision that is formulating at the county level to protect the Aina and make new opportunities for growing food and affordable living.  Like a rising wave, the movement is achieving critical mass, led by the SHAKA Movement, HFUU, Maui Tomorrow Foundation, Go Green, among others.

Unlike my early days in California, when I was working in the Central Valley fields to cultivate critical benchmarks for insect ecology research and everything always seemed to get co-opted by the rich chemical companies; there is now a more nuanced understanding of the science of soil and IPM (Integrated Pest Management).  Farmers and consumers are collectively pushing back against the ‘chemical treadmill’.  Sufficient numbers of farmers – young and old- with knowledge of AgroecologyPermaculture, IPM and otherwise regenerative practices are finally gaining political traction.  One hopes to see the tide of history turning, and sustainable practices becoming the norm, at least here in the Aloha State.

Despite efforts to destroy them, the independent insectaries that support true IPM still exist.  They support commercial level applications as well as home gardeners.  Rincon-Vitova is one of the great historic insectaries which continues to move the field of biological pest control forward.

This segue on IPM aside, I just have to applaud how Maui County leaders are recognizing the ecological challenges and acknowledging citizen calls to envision and achieve food self sufficiency for Maui, Lana’i and Moloka’i.  Yeah!

I intend to continue supporting and reporting on Maui’s regenerative agriculture movement, and making it more worthwhile to visit this blog. 

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Growing through grief and praising the urban food movement

Orchard.KAB

(photo credit: Kenneth Byes)

<Orchard Sigh>   This photo was taken in a beloved orchard of around 20 citrus varieties, some specimens over 50 years old.  This place of production and respite has long since disappeared for high tech greenhouses.  Change rocks your world and you look back to happier times, missing old orchards.

A habit of planting trees wherever I go can be explained by my lifelong awareness of our mortal condition.  Even with that knowledge, I feel crushed by the loss of a parent – someone who made a difference – and it’s making me think back to what I have done of significance –  if anything.  To me it seems, most significantly, I grow plants.  Perhaps my propagating habits will rescue me from regret in the end.  ‘Live Long and Propagate.’

<Portable Plants and Tolerant Crops>   Like a goldfish in a tiny bowl, trees that are constricted in a pot will be limited in growth and production. And so my potted plant collection continues to exist, awaiting a permanent home for unrestricted growth.

It is a testimony to their greatness that plants will withstand such confinement.  And, as with domesticated animals, the great industrial vegetable crops (tomatoes, corn, beans to name a few) withstand immense stressors and pressures to provide high volumes of uniform product.  It’s truly amazing.

Despite the violent successes of industrial agriculture, I am more encouraged by the energy and persistence of food democracy advocates and the ever growing Organic food movement which promotes better alternatives for a well fed and peaceful world.

<Growing Local Food Systems>   It’s all about education and celebration of our powers as individuals who can make change locally.  We are moving to a more decentralized and locally integrated model of food production and consumption.  I’m excited that today’s urban food movement is waking up new generations of citizens about taking responsibility for growing and securing local food systems.

Local community gardens, School Gardens and activist organizations like  Judith Yisrael’s family farm in Oak Park are enriching and popularizing the urban food movement.  Besides producing great veggies, it creates opportunities to strengthen ties and build community.  In an age of big data and kids lost in digital space, I can think of no better way than gardening – to help them ground their energies in the real stuff of life that makes all things possible.

 

 

Citrus and Olive trees for the stars

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Nancee Borgnine honors dad Ernest at Emmy’s Party at the Sportsman’s Lodge, Studio City

I was honored to be invited to participate in sharing Four Winds Growers Dwarf Citrus and other fruit trees today at a party given by Nancee Borgnine in Studio City, CA. This pre-Emmy’s event saw a continuous flow of celebrities from television and theatre, who browsed among select vendors and got ‘free stuff’ (shwag). There were sparkly jeans, amazing hats, fragrant herbs and flowers, Vodka drinks, whimsical plush toys made from recycled sweaters, flameless cigarettes, cushy furniture, non-profit Big Brothers, Big Sisters and many others. Our trees seemed to strike many as novel. Because Four Winds’ Dwarf Clementine mandarin tree had been featured in the April 2012 issue of Oprah! Magazine, we were seen by Nancee, and invited to be there. We brought a very nice Improved Meyer lemon tree to give to Nancee in honor of her dad.

Needless to say, it was a day of anticipation and excitement. I met some wonderful actors and their associates, including Joe Mantegna of “Criminal Minds” , also Tony Denison, Michael Paul Chan and Robert Gossett of “The Closer.” It was especially fun meeting Michele Gossett, wife of Robert, as well as other family members of the actors, who enjoy gardening. Cris Borgnine, Nancee’s brother and his family were delightful to talk with. I admired the Aloha shirts that Cris and his little boys were wearing. Cris said that he was wearing one from his dad’s collection that he had worn in “From Here to Eternity”.

The weather was very warm, with some merciful overcast helping cool, but also raising the humidity. To my country bumpkin perceptions, many folks seemed uncomfortably dressed given the weather, (myself especially included).  But stars are stoic, I learned, and they can look ‘cool’ even when it’s not.

All in all I had a ball meeting folks I wouldn’t ordinarily encounter. As for the event itself, I can really appreciate all the coordination that was required, and hat’s off to Nancee and her team for pulling it off with grace and panache!

The Hawn Foundation

This seems like a very sensible and positive approach to teaching and learning (K-8) that should be more present in ‘regular’ schools for all children!

From the Website:
MindUP™ Program
As The Hawn Foundation’s signature educational initiative, MindUP™ is anchored in current research in cognitive neuroscience, evidence-based classroom pedagogy, best-practices mindful education, precepts of social and emotional learning (SEL), and guiding principles of positive psychology. MindUP™ is a family of social, emotional, and attentional self-regulatory strategies and skills developed for cultivating well-being and emotional balance. Among the various MindUP™ skills taught to students, focused attention and nonreactive monitoring of experience from moment to moment display the potential to have a long-term impact on brain function and social and emotional behavior.

New Zest: Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage your emotions in positive and constructive ways. It’s about recognizing your own emotional state and the emotional states of others. Emotional intelligence is also about engaging with others in ways that draw people to you.

There is a certification course for ‘Emotional Intelligence’. Even though I work in the nursery trade I still take an interest in a range of topics relevant to Community Development. I was very interested in this weeklong workshop/certification program offered by sixseconds:
http://www.6seconds.org/training/certification.html