It’s been a busy few days.
Last Wednesday evening, Don Thomas, a geologist from UH Hilo, accompanied me to a meeting of the Keaukaha Community Association where he described two drilling projects. The first was a 3,000 ft. or so pilot hole sunk by the Hilo breakwater. It was a test to see if the concept of drilling to acquire a profile of the land was feasible. The second was a much deeper hole on the National Guard side of the Hilo airport. This was a part of a National Science Foundation-funded study. It was meant to gather information on the formation of the Big Island by studying the layers of lava as the hole was drilled deeper and deeper.
The background as I understand it: In eartlier days, only the Kohala Mountain range, Hualalai and Mauna Kea protruded above the ocean. Then Mauna Loa erupted and the Hilo side of Mauna Kea was covered by Mauna Loa’s lava.
Core samples showed that there was Mauna Loa lava atop soil from Mauna Kea, much like the kind of material you see on the Hilo/Hamakua coast. Then, as the drill went deeper, they found fresh water at 160 lbs. of pressure in the Mauna Kea lava, way below the surface of the ocean. This is what’s called an artesian well, and is when you get water shooting out under pressure from the surface of the land. That means that this water is under pressure from water that is pushing against it.
As I understand it, drill deep enough and water will just shoot out of the ground. I’ll ask Don what all this means and report back here.
I saw Luana Kawelu at the Keaukaha Community Association meeting Wednesday night. Kumu Lehua calls her one of the “Gang of Three” (with Patrick Kahawaiola‘a) — the folks who together help to make Keaukaha Elementary School the excellent school that it is. She is also the driving force behind the Merrie Monarch Festival. She has never let marketing and dreams of bigger and better things cloud her judgment. She just focuses on the pono thing. I cannot imagine how the Merrie Monarch Festival could be done better. “Pono” is way good enough.
Thursday, I flew to Maui to visit supermarkets as part of my marketing involvement with the new organic farm at Kapalua called WeFarm@Kapalua. This organic farm is on former Maui Pineapple Company lands and consists of approximately 158 acres. David Cole, the former CEO of Maui Land and Pine, started the organic farm awhile ago. When MLP got out of pineapple, the Ulupono Initiative submitted a bid to take over the former organic farm. From the Ulupono Initiative website:
Ulupono Sustainable Agriculture Development LLC, a subsidiary of the Ulupono Initiative, announced today that it would be assuming operations of Kapalua Farms, an organic farming and agriculture research facility located near the entry of the Kapalua Resort in West Maui. Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc., owners of the 158-acre agricultural parcel, successfully reached an agreement with Ulupono earlier this month, with the transition of the property already underway.
“We are pleased to partner with Ulupono Sustainable Agriculture Development as they assume operations of Kapalua Farms,” said Warren H. Haruki, chairman and interim CEO of Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. “Our desire was to find an operational partner that would be able to continue organic farming operations and to maintain Kapalua Farms as a community resource, employer, and provider. Ulupono is an exemplary organization committed to preserving our agricultural land, and we look forward to working together.”
I am especially pleased to be working with the Ulupono Initiative and WeFarm@Kapalua because I watched Jeff Alvord put this initiative together over the last several years. Jeff would call when he was in town and we would talk about the larger picture of a sustainable Hawai‘i. I knew from early on that the Omidyar Group had the best interest of Hawai‘i at heart. I’m very happy to be closely involved with this new organic farming initiative.
Later, when I made my way to the Maui airport, I ran into Stevie Whalen, the President of the Hawai‘i Ag Research Center, which is the modern-day iteration of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association’s research arm.
Founded in 1895, the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association (HSPA), dedicated to improving the sugar industry in
Hawaii, has become an internationally recognized research center. Its name change in 1996 to Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC) reflects its expanding scope to encompass research in forestry, coffee, forage, vegetable crops, tropical fruits, and many other diversified crops in addition to sugarcane. HARC is a private, non-profit 501c5 organization.
HARC specializes in horticultural crop research including agronomy and plant nutrition, plant physiology, breeding, genetic engineering and tissue culture, and control of diseases and pests through integrated pest management. HARC also performs pesticide registration work; training in areas such as pesticide application and environmental compliance; ground water monitoring; and technical
Stevie was on Maui to help provide research info about new biocrop possibilities that could possibly be the base feedstock that would provide the U.S. Navy the kind of second and third generation fuel that it could use to fly its jet planes and run its ships. Liquid transportation fuel is very important for us living in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It will take a huge research effort to develop high-yielding bio feedstock. It will not just happen miraculously, out of the blue. I have the utmost confidence in Stevie and her HARC crew, as well as Andy Hashimoto and the CTAHR crew.
Stevie told me that it’s becoming evident that biofuel production will need to use the added value of co-products to make it an economically viable form of energy. There is no doubt that we want to develop a biofuel that will eventually be cost-competitive with fossil fuels. I am very aware that much more work needs to be done.
Then, on the plane back to Hilo, I ended up sitting next to Arnold Hara, extension entomologist for UH Manoa. He was on Maui as part of a project to intensively inspect imported produce coming from the mainland and foreign countries. He was very concerned about the amount of invasive species insects that are being found on imported organic produce. He called imported organic produce “dirty.” He meant that there are lots of hitchhikers on organic produce. It is very worrisome.
I’ll call him tomorrow and ask what varieties of organic produce we should grow to replace imported organic produce. I’m very happy to be associated with WeFarm@Kapalua, where we can help to protect Hawai‘i from invasive species.