Posts Tagged ‘farming’

Blown Away

April 25, 2008


Here is an article entitled: Study Based on Farmers’ Experience Exposes Risks of GE Crops.

The article is a little technical, but has some good information.  The question which we should all be asking ourselves, as we face a worldwide food shortage and even food rationing in the U.S. is, are Genetically Engineered crops really the answer?

In my mind the issues around food, resource distribution, and world hunger have a lot to do with the massive shift to industrial agriculture and away from small local sustainable farming. 

Recently I had the very good fortune to give some talks on Genetic Engineering at the the University of Hawaii at Hilo.   What blew my mind though was the the students’ general lack of knowledge about agriculture, farming, or even gardening.  In one of the classes not a single student of the the 25 or so present had even grown vegetables in a garden!  I was completely stunned.  I had just assumed that most people had some minimal exposure to growing food.  That is obviously not the case.

The statistic on farming is that less than .01% of the US population is involved in agriculture.   The students at the University made this statistic very real for me.

Consequently I had to spend a tremendous amount of time during my talk explaining very basic things about farming – like how plants grow and pollinate, how they are planted and how they can be harvested.   I gave information on all of the things that go into growing food on large farms (Industrial Ag.) and small family farms.   I talked about organic agriculture and sustainability.

Let me say it again, I was stunned by what these students did not know about the growing of food!

It cannot be good for people to be this disconnected from the land and the source of the food upon which their lives depend.

Peace,  Paul


Around the Farm

April 23, 2008

We are into the full on growing season here in Hawaii.  The rain has moderated a bit and the days are longer and we are striving to stay ahead of the weeds and various vines that thrive in this weather.  Are farm is organic, low tech, and off the grid.  That means that we do most of the work by hand using sickles, shovels, and hoes.   (Though there is a 50 year old tractor for some of the heavier work.)  It is a good life filled with long days and hard work.

Here are some photos from around the farm, enjoy.

Our first crop of corn this year.   We just put in a second planting and are looking forward to having sweet corn for several months.

Our first planting of corn this year.

Lettuce growing in our “screen house.”  We get a lot of rain here in Hawaii and the lettuce just can’t stand up to the showers:

Lettuce growing in our \

Here is some young taro that has recently been weeded.  For those of you who do not know, Taro is the staple crop of Hawaii.  It is a very strong plant, a good producer, and easy to grow.  You can eat the whole plant and it is quite tasty.

Here is some taro that is about ready to be cut for leaf.  The corm (root) will not yet be ready for some time:

Some sweet potatoes that were weeded today.  This is another good staple crop.  Unfortunately the pigs really like sweet potatoes as well.  So I may be sleeping in the field with the dogs when harvest time rolls around.

Here are some beans that will be ready to pick in a few weeks. (They look weedy, but really it’s not that bad!)  This is one of the crops that we sell at market.  Taro is the other main cash crop.

Everyone should grow a little of their own food.

Peace, Paul

Last Week

December 16, 2007

It is the last week at Malu Aina before Judy and I travel to the mainland for the holidays.  The last few days on the farm have been wet.  There is standing water in all of the fields and everything has become damp and limp.  Our little cabin in the woods has held up nicely.  There is mud everywhere and keeping ones feet and clothes “clean-ish” has become a big challenge.


From our cabin we can hear cars on the main road and cows lowing in the distance..  Closer to the cabin we are surrounded by the sounds of frogs, birds, and the vibrant aliveness of nature.


The sun in Hawaii comes up quickly in the morning.  One moment it is night and the next, or so it seems, day is upon us.  The slow drawn-out predawn show of the northern latitudes is missing here.   As the sun leaps into the sky it is greeted by crowing and tussling of Roosters preparing to leave the roost.


Tuesday I spent the morning working under the cover of the screen house.  This is the small shelter where we grow all of our salad greens.   Without the protection of the screen house, the fragile lettuce plants would not survive the torrential rains of the rain-forest.


In the afternoon I sat with Martha, Judy, and Jim around the dinner table stuffing and stamping envelopes while drinking coffee and “talking story”.  I was happy not to put my wet socks and muddy boots back on and trudge out to the the fields.


In the evening Martha prepared a delicious dinner.  We finished the day with pumpkin pie, of which we all ate too much.


Several of the Banana plants on the farm, have been knocked down by the wind.   On Wednesday, covered in rain gear and dodging the worst of the rain, I replanted many of the stumps.


In the evening our local Hawaii Seed group had its monthly meeting.  We discussed GMOs and how to protect Taro from becoming the next crop contaminated / poisoned by Genetic Engineering.  The New Year will mark the begining of the Hawaii Legislative session.  It will also be a busy time for us as we struggle to convince our legislators to resist the enticements of money and power, and instead do what is right – protect our food and our children from the dangers of GMOs.


On Saturday morning we will leave for New Orleans.  I will miss the quiet and routines of Malu Aina and life on the farm.  However it will be good to be with family for the Holidays.  It is something that we missed last year.


Peace, Paul