Room With a View

Richard Ha writes: 

This is the view from
my “office” window.


I took it from the air-conditioned cab of my bulldozer,
where I can even charge my iPhone. I was on a conference call yesterday while I
was in the middle of clearing some brush that we are going to replace with
something more productive. Not bad, huh?


We're busy putting our marginal lands into production. While
we’re at it, we need to provide safety barriers using dual-use plants and
trees. We need to protect the streams by preventing erosion and runoff over the
long term. If we can accomplish this with plants that provide food, so much the

On the land surrounding the hydro generator, we want to highlight
the modern and the ancient. The hydro generator represents the modern, and the
plants the Polynesian navigators brought with them in their canoes are of
particular interest to me. 

Being a banana farmer, I am familiar with the cooking bananas,
the mai‘a maoli and the mai‘a popoulu. The mai‘a maoli produced a large, heavy
bunch. I remember thinking, I would have put that in the canoe as well. The mai‘a
popoulu was probably a backup. It was susceptible to wind and not very strong,
relative to competition from grasses, etc. 

Anybody have those varieties? I don't see them around
anymore. They succumbed to the fusarium wilt, like the Bluefield bananas did in
the 50s. That caused the world banana trade to shift to the Cavendish type
of banana, which are starting to succumb to another race of the fusarium wilt.
That is the biggest threat overhanging the world banana industry today. 

More pictures from my bulldozer. That’s bamboo in the
distance. It’s less than three years old, and I’m guessing it’s 60-plus feet
tall and 5 feet in diameter now. That’s with only two applications of

We have ‘opae in this
healthy stream on our farm.

All the rose apple trees on Wai‘a‘ama Stream succumbed to a fungus a short time ago. We are going to plant other trees here, which will keep invasive species down and also help to keep the river cool.

This soil was fallow
after a banana crop, and as I was walking along I saw earthworms. Healthy soil.

(I videotaped an earthworm!)

I am fascinated by our Hawaiian ancestors' ability to survive, well, in a world without draft animals and metals.

I'm planning to write more about all this from a farmer’s point of view.