The Food Provider ~ September | October | November 2011

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter

In This Issue


Aloha Kākou

Welcome to the Fall issue of HānaiʻAi, the sustainable agriculture newsletter of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. The mission of HānaiʻAi is to provide a venue for dissemination of science-based information to serve all of Hawaii's Farming Community in our quest for agricultural sustainability.

SurveyMonkey logoAs we enter our third year of publishing HānaiʻAi, it is a good time to reflect on what we can do to make the newsletter even more relevant to you. We have designed an evaluation form to help us do this and hope you will take a few minutes to complete it. This is your opportunity to suggest articles, programs or events that you would like to see covered. Click on the link below to complete the survey. 

We are pleased to announce the expansion of the SOAP working group to include four new topics and their leaders:

Please join us in welcoming them to the program.

Join us on a trip to Ka'u to visit this issue's featured farmer, award winning coffee grower Lorie Obra and her family. Using local resources to improve soil quality and plant health has made biochar a hot commodity among many of Hawaii's food producers. CTAHR resources related to biochar are highlighted below along with other CTAHR updates that include practices that promote plant health, a vital soil, and a strong market for local products.

Make sure to visit the "back pages" of the newsletter as well, which features Publications & Programs, upcoming Workshops, Conferences and Meetings, the Organic Update  and upcoming funding deadlines.

We hope you find this issue of HānaiʻAi useful, and welcome your input.

Featured Farmer: Lorie Obra
Rusty’s Hawaiian, Pahala, Hawai‘i

Lorie Obra of Rusty's Hawaiian Kau Coffee

Area under production: 12 acres

Years farming in Hawaii: 12 years

Crops: Specialty coffee 

Fertility management practices: Through the LIFE (Local Immigrant Farmer Education) program, various Ka'u coffee farmers had soil-and-tissue analysis of their farms conducted by the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. This helped me determine the type of fertilizer I need. 

Pest Management: I have a very slight infestation with the twig borer. Thanks to LIFE, I was able to consult with farm advisers and an entomologist. They advised me to cut off the affected limbs and burn or bury the cuttings. 

What does Sustainability mean to you? I've found that the easiest way to a more sustainable lifestyle is to keep taking small steps that make a difference. For example, I use solar panels to heat my hot water at home. At the farmers markets, I am phasing out styrofoam cups in favor of compostable ones. I rely on the sun instead of mechanical dryers to dry my coffees. And I devote part of my crop to natural-dried and pulp-natural coffees, which require less water in processing.

READ the full article here.

Mahalo nui loa to Lorie Obra for this interview and to Ralph Gaston for photographs.

Obra Ohana

Hot Tip from Rusty's Hawaiian

My motto is passion, consistent quality and adaptability. You have to be passionate about your product in order to have great quality. And in farming, you have to be able to adapt to unforeseen situations.

From the Field

Saving Seeds

Growing seeds for CTARH's seed sale program

Many farmers and gardeners save some of their own seed to preserve well-adapted varieties that may not be available on the commercial market. This article highlights key points to be aware of when saving seed. Several vegetable varieties selected and saved by Hawaii farmers are available from the University of Hawaii Seed Program.

READ the full article here.

FMI: Ted Radovich, Email: theodore@hawaii.edu

Growing Your Business

Farms and Families: Keeping Business Concerns Separate From Family Concerns

Farms and farm families are intertwined, which can cause tension for the business and the family. In order to address these types of concerns, business and family goals must be clarified immediately. This article discusses the need to  plan ahead and provides information about resources that can help.

READ the full article here.

FMI: Linda Cox, email: lcox@hawaii.ed

Sustainable & Organic Research News

The Basics of Biochar : A Natural Soil Amendment


Josiah Hunt, email: josiahhunt@me.com; Michael DuPonte,  email: mduponte@hawaii.edu, Dwight Sato, and Andrew Kawabata email: kawabataa@ctahr.hawaii.edu

This recent CTAHR publication provides an extensive literature review of recent biochar research that has been completed around the world. It addresses questions about biochar that are frequently asked by users and producers. The results of an unreplicated field demonstration are also included.

The Basics of Biochar: A Natural Soil Amendment [SCM 30]

Beneficial Use of Biochar To Correct Soil Acidity

Biochar trials

Arnoldus Klau Berek, Nguyen Hue, email: nvhue@hawaii.edu, and Amjad Ahmad email: alobady@hawaii.edu

Soil acidity limits crop production in many regions of the world, including Hawaii. Lime is often applied to reduce acidity, although lime is costly and may not be available. The research reported in this article concludes that biochar, a by-product of bio-fuels production, could be mixed with lime to reduce soil acidity. Applying a mixture that contains 2 to 4 % biochar and about 2 tons/ha of lime, which is expected to neutralize acidity, was found to significantly improve soil quality and increase crop growth.

READ the full article here.

Romaine lettuce Variety Trials in Hawaii: Winter, Spring and Summer Trials

Lettuce trials at Poamoho

Hector Valenzuela, email: hector@hawaii.edu; Jari Sugano, email: suganoj@ctahr.hawaii.edu; Alton Arakaki, email: arakakia@ctahr.hawaii.edu; Ted Radovich, email: Theodore@hawaii.edu; Ted Goo, and Susan Migita, email: migitas@ctahr.hawaii.edu

Four observational field trials were conducted to determine the growth of Romaine lettuce varieties during the Winter at Poamoho, O‘ahu, Spring at low-elevation in Moloka‘i , and Summer over two years in Poamoho. The research report identifies the top yielding varieties and the varieties that exhibited desirable traits or growth characteristics.

READ the full article here.

Articles from the Western Integrated Pest Management Center

Article by Mike Kawate and Cathy Tarutani, UH-CTAHR

Article by Ethel Villalobos, UH-CTAHR Honeybee Project.

For more information about CTAHR's research, see CTAHR Research News Magazine and website.

Organic Update


Next Tuesday, October 18th, eOrganic along with the eXtension Plant Breeding and Genomics Community of Practice are hosting a webinar on How to Breed for Organic Systems, by Jim Myers of Oregon State University. The webinar will take place at 2 PM Eastern time.

This database provides sources for organic seed of both agronomic and horticultural crops. Some national, mail-order suppliers of untreated seed are included, with the emphasis on small alternative seed companies offering open-pollinated vegetable, flower, and herb seed.

Under the terms of the renewed agreements, certified organic producers and handlers may be reimbursed 75% of the cost of their new or continued certification, up to a maximum of $750. 

Newsletter of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program, Summer 2011

Publications & Programs


New from CTAHR

Acidification of Volcanic Ash Soils from Maui and Hawaii Island for Blueberry and Tea Production 

Other Great Resources

The Agribusiness Incubator Program now offers e-News: Subscribe at agincubator@ctahr.hawaii.edu.

Workshops | Conferences | Meetings


Angel Figueroa, USDA NRCS Pacific Islands Director

Angel Figueroa was selected as the new Director for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  He is responsible for the 110 federal employees within the Pacific Islands Area.  Originally from Puerto Rico, Mr. Figueroa began his career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1989.  Before this Hawaii assignment, Mr. Figueroa worked for NRCS offices in Massachusetts, Ohio, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC.  He was selected for this position in July 2011 after the retirement of Larry Yamamoto.

Funding Opportunities

WSARE Grants

Professional Development Program Grants: These grants focus on training agricultural professionals to help them spread knowledge about sustainable agriculture concepts and practices. PDP Grants are limited to $60,000 for single-state proposals, while proposals with meaningful involvement from more than one state can apply for up to $100,000. Proposals due in November 2011.

Producer Grants: These one- to three-year grants are conducted by agricultural producers with support and guidance from a technical advisor. Individual farmers or ranchers may apply for up to $15,000, and a group of three or more producers may apply for up to $25,000. Proposals due in December 2011.

Professional + Producer Grants: Similar to the Producer Grants but with  an agricultural professional – Cooperative Extension educator or Natural Resources Conservation Service professional – serving as the project coordinator. A farmer or rancher serves as the project advisor. Applicants can seek up to $50,000 and must have at least five producers involved. Proposals due in December 2011.


Western Region Sustainable Agriculture and Education Program (WSARE) WSARE logo

Learn more about WSARE’s activities in their quarterly newsletter Simply Sustainable.

Since 1988, the WSARE program has been supporting agricultural profitability, environmental integrity and community strength through grants that enable cutting-edge research and education to open windows on sustainability across the West, including Hawaii. The goals of WSARE are:

For more information, please see: https://wsare.usu.edu/ or contact Hawaii WSARE coordinator Dr. Ted Radovich at theodore@hawaii.edu.

This e-publication has been prepared by CTAHR research scientists and extension staff to deliver science-based information about sustainable and organic production systems to serve Hawaii's farming community.

Mahalo nui loa,

Dr. Linda Cox and Dr. Ted Radovich
Jody Smith, e-Extension Manager
Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program
Cooperative Extension Service
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources