Mele Kalikimaka!

Christmas is here! After two weeks of nonstop rain we are ready to fulfill tropical holiday wishes left and right. December is our busiest month here at the farm, filled with communal chile dinners and late nights of boxing flowers wearing Santa hats. All ten members of the Hana Tropicals ‘Ohana are happily working long hours to harvest hundreds of tropical flowers in time to handle the holiday rush. It’s still not too late to put in your order for a tropical flower arrangement to be sent to your doorstep the week of Christmas!

In other news, the perfect Christmas present is coming to us one week early: six baby chicks are hatching this week! 2017 is looking like it will be a phenomenal year for our farm animals. The geese and ducks will soon be regularly producing eggs and a baby duck might be in our future as well. The new year will bring us new WWOOFers and we will have to say goodbye to beloved workers, which is always hard to do.

We are so lucky to have our view of Haleakala and the Pacific Ocean, to have our days harvesting mother nature’s finest work, and to have the beautiful ‘Ohana that we do. As we count our blessings from 2016 and look forward to an incredible 2017 year, we want to thank all of our loyal customers, friends and family for all that they have done with us this year. We hope your holiday seasons are filled with aloha and tropical cheer!

Lessons from the Aina:

Mele Kalikimaka” is a Christmas song that was written in 1949 by Robert Alex Anderson. Mele Kalikimaka in Hawaiian translates directly to ‘Merry Christmas’. Hawaiians have a different phonological system than most languages, in that they do not have the /r/ or /s/ sounds that the English language has. Many musicians have done covers of this song, including the famous Bing Crosby and the Beach Boys, and it has been featured in multiple films.

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Wainapanapa Wonders

 

Every day, hundreds of tourists pull in to Waianapanapa State Park. They park their car, and for half an hour lie in repose upon the black sand of Pa’iloa beach, stopping at nothing until their smartphones stumble onto an instagram worthy picture to invoke the ire and jealousy of their friends and acquaintances back home. At this point, galled by the perpetual crowd of other photo hungry tourists that frequent the beach, they get up and continue on their merry way along the road to hana.

Fortunately for those in the know, and unfortunately for 99% of the tourists that stop by the park, Waianapanapa has much more to offer than a crowded black sand beach. There’s world class snorkelling, fishing, jumping, hidden sea caves, sea arches, and a 3 mile segment of what was once a 138 mile trading route that traversed the entire island of Maui.

The King’s Highway, constructed around the 16th century and completed under the rule of King Pi’ilani, used to be an integral part of travel and commerce in Maui. Traversing rugged coastline, deep gulches, and verdant valleys, it was the first trail to circumnavigate the entire island. Hundreds of thousands of basalt lava rocks were laid to make the trail, which today lies in a sad state of disrepair. Hundreds of years worth of jungle growth, development, and neglect have erased most of the trail, of which only segments remain. In light of this, the 3 mile segment that follows the jagged black lava rock coast along the state park is in remarkably good condition. Though at points following the trail becomes a bit of a crapshoot, half of the fun is venturing out off of the trail onto the rugged black cliffside.

The park actually lies at the midpoint of the trail, which goes from the Hana Airport to Hana Bay. If starting from the park, we’d recommend taking the trail north towards the airport. Past the beach, the trail winds along the edge of a hala tree forest and some cliffsides offering stupendous photo opps of the sea arches across the bay. You’ll pass by another small beach before the trail winds into the forest and out onto an expanse of black basalt lava, which juts out further and further away from the forest and the swarms of tourists that generally don’t venture much further than the beach.

Somewhere around this section of the trail you can follow a smaller trail out towards the edge of the water, where you’ll find what might be some kind of shrine, or perhaps a hearth, offering a lovely platform to seat yourself upon while you gaze, slack jawed, at the view that has opened up behind you. Feast your eyes upon by far and away the best view of the foothills of Haleakala to be gleaned from anywhere in Hana, a sweeping 360 degree vista of electric blue ocean, jet black lava rock fringed by neon green canopy, and hala forest giving way to the lush, mountainous foothills of the volcano.

The trail haphazardly continues toward the airport, though we recommend not to bother too much with the main trail and explore the black cliffsides. You’ll see various little half trails branching off towards the cliffs and we have found that in most cases they lead somewhere pretty cool. While exploring the off trail expanse of lava rock around this area we found that the underside of the cliff we were on gave way to a beautiful sea cave, which we were able to climb down into without too much trouble. Keep in mind that climbing down crumbly rock into sea caves leaves you at the mercy of falling off and, especially during high tide, of being swept away and smashed around by the crazy waves that frequent the Hana coastline. That being said, exercising due caution, you can find some beautiful vantage points of the cliffsides, which in sharp contrast to the jagged rock above have been washed smooth by the tides.

With nothing but the sound of waves crashing against the cliffs, you can make your way back towards your car, taking in the blue, green, and black of the landscape before you. And when you pull back out of the park and onto the Hana Highway, feel free to stop by our farm, just a mile down the road from the park!

Written by Amir Hotter-Yishai

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On entropy, goats, and rotational grazing.

They say that the second law of thermodynamics dictates that the entropy of any closed system is bound to increase – that is to say, will move from order to disorder. A cracked egg can never uncrack and retreat back into it’s shell, and by that same token once you clear a plot of land in Maui and start growing things on it – you’ve got your work cut out for you! Our job as sustainable farmers is to create order, regenerating and organizing land and animals. Organizing the chaos of the jungle is definitely a concept we’re familiar with here at the farm, and, as our big, happy, and ever expanding cohort of furred and feathered friends can attest to, is something we pride ourselves in. While grappling with weighty concepts like the forward moving arrow of time might be par for the course for coffeehouse philosophizing, we like to stick to what we know here: maintaining the integrity of our soil while keeping our livestock healthy.

As those of you who’ve been following this blog may know, our livestock population has exponentially increased in the past year. Now, you might be wondering – what use could a flower farm have for all these animals? Good question.

Enter management intensive rotational grazing. It sounds long, and it sounds technical, but it’s actually a very simple concept. Basically, it means that instead of letting the livestock freely graze, you allot them a certain portion of pasture, allowing the rest to recover in the meantime. Simple a concept as it may be, the ramifications are deep and far ranging. Giving the pasture that extra time to recover is in the best interest of the soil, the pasture, and thus the livestock themselves. The rest time allows the land to deepen and rebuild root and shoot systems, and regenerate energy –  in the process maximizing biomass, or total organic matter. Using this system also eliminates or substantially decreases reliance on supplemental feed sources, as the pasture systems provides enough energy for the grazers.

Here at Hana Tropicals, sustainability is more than just a word, or a concept, it is the standard to which we hold up all our endeavours. In everything we do, we strive to think in the long term and ensure that we’re not exploiting the land, but constantly building it and bettering it. Introducing a rotational grazing system for our livestock means we barely have to rely on supplemental feed to nourish them, and, most importantly of all, we don’t need to use any inputs or fertilizers on the land- the animals, with their nitrogen rich droppings, do all the work for us. When you’ve only got maybe 3 inches of arable soil tops lying on a vast expanse of lava rock, you’ve got to pamper and cherish those three precious inches. And that’s exactly what rotational grazing accomplishes.

Year in Review

2015 was a phenomenal year for Hana Tropicals. We said goodbye to devoted farmers and welcomed new, eager workers onto our premises. We developed and implemented dozens of new projects, built homes for our bountiful animal o’hana, hosted more WWOOFers at one time than ever before, we grew, we learned, we thrived. We are so thankful for 2015.

Here are a few highlights, as told by a few pictures that you may recognize:

January: We implemented the Keyhole gardening method! We currently have 7 of them, which provide us with an abundance of vegetables. We love sharing knowledge about this revolutionary gardening method. If you want to learn how to create your own, check this out.

March: We got 12 baby chicks. Since then, our livestock numbers at the farm have continued to increase. We now have chickens, ducks, geese, and goats. All of which we will use to help weed and fertilize our flower fields and Moringa orchards.

April: We planted our first Moringa seeds. This was just the beginning of a huge project, in which we plan to produce Moringa leaf powder and tea for our customers. We have cleared and planted three fields full of Moringa in 2015 and the project continues.

May: We participated in the annual Taro Festival. Living in the small town of Hana means a strong sense of community within our farm and our neighbors is vital. The Taro Festival is an annual event in honor of the taro leaf, with Hawaiian food and crafts for sale and a special Taro Pancake breakfast. Our booth featured many different types of orchids, as well as a Build Your Own Terrarium station!

June/July: We planted lots more flowers! With all of the additional flower planting that has been done this year, we look forward to a wider selection for our customers in the future.

August: Open Mic Night began. One of our very own WWOOFers, Craig Zuber, began this major town event here at the farm. It’s sponsored by O’hana Makamae, a holistic family resource center in town.

October: We had a float in the Aloha Week Parade! This was exciting, as we had not done it in a few years. We participated in almost every event the full week of activities had to offer, and took special pride in the two floats we lavishly decorated with our flowers for the parade.

November: Our local senior center Hale Hulu Mamo, is another organization that caters to community events throughout Hana. We were lucky enough to partner with them for a day of flower arranging and Bingo.

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December: We designed and included new flower care and arranging instructions in our flower boxes. This was our first step towards improving our packaging and making the whole experience easier for our customers. We also created a video on how to arrange your flowers!

As a farm that is constantly growing (no pun intended), we can confidently say that 2015 was a year to be proud of here at Hana Tropicals, and we are so excited for all that 2016 will bring. Mahalo to all of our friends and family! Aloha and a Happy New Year!

A Tropical Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at Hana Tropicals! Although palm trees and whale spotting at the beach doesn’t usually spark the holiday spirit, Christmas here is just as magical as the North Pole. Our warehouse is temporarily Santa’s exquisite floral workshop as we work through one of our biggest holidays. Christmas here involves special holiday arrangements, fuzzy winter flowers, boxing arrangements late into the evening, and a lot of Michael Bublé while we wash greenery. We are proud that our flowers are such a popular Christmas gift to family members and friends.

We have entered into the rainy season here in Hana, meaning slightly colder and wetter days. Seventy degrees and rainy may not sound like winter weather to you, but for us this is perfect for a cup of hot cocoa while wearing a sweater and elf hat. Our team here at the farm enjoys communal meals and singing Christmas carols together while we work hard so that our flowers can spread holiday cheer. Aside from our holiday arrangements we also make and sell Christmas ornaments made from our Tillandsia plants and shells to add tropical flare to your tree!

Our two special arrangements this year include the Holiday Wish and the Christmas Extravaganza, both of which boast some of the world’s most exotic flowers – Protea. Protea flowers were first discovered in Southern Africa but are now largely popular in Hawaii. Check out our flower guide for pictures and names of the flowers featured in our boxes this season.

After the holiday rush we will enjoy a quiet Christmas; we’ll gather food from our gardens to enjoy a big meal together before the Christmas Eve service in town. From Hana Tropicals to you, we wish you all a merry holiday season! May 2016 bring us more beautiful flowers, hard-working farmers and sunny days.

Spreading Aloha

Hana is a small town of approximately 1,000; the community is
close and it is not uncommon to see friends on a weekly basis at the general store, the post office or Hana Bay. Hana Tropicals is an active part of the Hana community, but we wanted to take our place in the community a step further by directly bringing our flowers to our neighbors and friends. On Tuesday Nov. 3, four of us went to Hale Hulu Mamo, Hana’s Senior Center. We brought over a hundred of our freshly cut and harvested tropical flowers, vases and floral foam to the seniors and fellow volunteers to enjoy a morning filled with floral arranging!

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Hale Hulu Mamo is known throughout Hana for consistently putting on events and hosting activities. From the monthly ‘Movie Night in the Park’ to the annual Christmas parade, Hale Hulu Mamo is a place you can count on to bring the town of Hana together. Flower arranging with them was no different; their front porch was bursting with beautiful arrangements that the seniors had a blast putting together. Many were worried their shaky hands would interfere with handling the flowers, but were proved wrong when each and every arrangement turned out to be a stunning, unique variations of all our favorite flowers! The seniors had their pictures taken with their arrangements and will be taking them home to brighten up their kitchens.


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“My grandchildren will especially love this fuzzy flower!” Auntie Charlotte claimed while pointing at a bright pink Heliconia flower. After floral arranging, we got the chance to sit down and share a snack and three games of bingo with the seniors. Everyone got the chance to win a bingo prize, resulting in a lot of cheering and smiles as each person went to retrieve their prize. We arranged leftover flowers from the activity into bundles and left them for seniors to bring to loved ones resting at the Hana graveyard.

What started as a single morning teaching the seniors more about floral arranging will now turn into a regular visit by Hana Tropicals to Hale Hulu Mamo, and we could not be more excited! It’s truly incredible to see our flowers bringing others joy and bringing the community of Hana together. Mahalo to Hale Hulu Mamo!

Moringa

Moringa Oleifera – the Miracle Plant

The Moringa plant is a magical plant, known to treat over 300 different diseases due to its prosperity of nutrients. We have been planting Moringa in abundance on our farm to help spread these nutrients to as many people as we can. In the past week we have planted over 100 Moringa seeds, with a lot more planting to come!

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Moringa grows well in Hawaii due to its ideal climate. Known here as “kalamungay”, (pronounced kah-lah-moon-guy) Moringa grows incredibly quick. One tree planted on our farm six months ago has already grown to be over twenty feet tall!
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Planted in April The leaves of Moringa trees are a powerhouse of nutritional value. A total of 90 nutrients have been identified in one Moringa leaf. Too good to be true? We know! But it’s truly incredible!

moringa health benefits

Moringa leaves strengthen the body and have the ability to prevent future diseases. Especially for vegetarians, Moringa leaves help to provide all eight amino acids found in most meats.

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How are you supposed to eat these leaves? The leaves are cooked and used like spinach, dried, or powdered to be used as a toppings.

Some more ways to use Moringa

  1. Leaves are used as a remedy for: fevers, bronchitis, eye and ear infections, diarrhea, colitis, arthritis and stomach pain.

  2. They can be rubbed on the temples to cure headaches.

  3. Leaves can be turned into a poultice used to help to reduce glandular swelling.

  4. Turned into a juice, it can be used as a skin antiseptic.

  5. Extracted from the seeds, Moringa oil is even more remarkable than olive oil. This oil can be used in cooking, cosmetics, machinery lubricant, and won’t ever spoil!

The Superhero Plant

The organization Trees for Life accepts donations to help plant Moringa trees throughout the world and share this nutritional information with those who need it the most. Moringa trees do not require a lot of care or water, and will grow in marginal soils as long as the climate does not reach freezing. Moringa has been planted in India and Africa to help fight malnutrition.IMG_4744

What are we doing with Moringa leaves?

Drying leaves for you to eat! You can add these dried leaves or powder to any dish (especially smoothies!), providing the ultimate nutrition to top off your meal.

Stay tuned, as we will be selling this amazing product in our online store in the future! Got any inspiring Moringa stories? Have you ever tried to grow it yourself? We’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment here, or let us know on Facebook or Instagram @HanaTropicals!


Information gleaned from:

http://www.organiclivingresource.com/moringa-oleifera-the-miracle-tree/
http://www.purehealingfoods.com/moringaInfo.php
http://moringafacts.net