It seems fitting that we find ourselves back on the big island for our final trip considering it is here where we started this journey over a year ago. Some of us are no longer here and some of us have experienced major career changes, however growth, learning, and friendship have been constant factors throughout.
Welcome to our last seminar series for ALP Class XV. A bittersweet feeling as we land back on the Big Island. Together again (though missing SteveO), we traveled to the Hāmākua Agricultural Cooperative to meet with Max Bowman. He shared his story of the membership community of farmers and ranchers who sub-lease land to farm for diversified products. With beautiful views and windy conditions, Max explained that he leases 4 acres and focuses on a diversity of organic products. He utilizes the Cooperative’s production facility and delivers products as far down as Puna district. His market demand seems bottomless but delivery and storage challenges prevent him from growing too quickly.
After lunch we travelled to Hawaii’s largest producing dairy, Big Island Dairy. Owned by Whiteside’s Dairy based in Idaho and one of only two dairies in Hawaii, Big Island dairy has been in operation for 10 years and currently has the capacity to supply 20% of all the Hawaiian Island’s milk demands. It’s an impressively clean facility and the cows have a schedule that they like to stick to, being milked 3x a day they know the routine. The operation grows much of its own silage to reduce costly imports and they compost all waste on site. They do intend to increase their scale to 1,800 head (meeting 30% of Hawaii’s needs) and we look forward to enjoying more fresh Big Island Dairy milk.
Our first day closed with an alumni networking potluck dinner hosted at the magnificent Kahuā Ranch. Monty Richards and his family hosted us at their 8,500 acre private ranch. Monty is truly a living legend, he also played a pivotal part in the creation of the Agricultural Leadership Foundation when he feared for the future of agriculture once the plantations started closing on the Big Island. It was an honor to meet him and to mingle with other alumni and friends that joined us that evening. We didn’t even notice that the electricity went out as most of our attention was on the superb food spread and perfect sunset.
Mahalo nui for all those involved in planning this day, celebrating with us, and sharing your mana’o.
This my first time visiting a fish hatchery. The entire hatchery is very special place for maintaining healthy fish population and also critical for future sustainable fish harvest. We saw some very very tiny fish and big ones today.
We met with David Wolf, the President of Native American Fish and Wildlife Society. Their website is www.nafws.org. We got to learn and understand how his organization and Oregon Fish and Wildlife with local tribe work together.
Fish eggs are hatched inside the trays shown in picture below. Water temperature is one of the major factors affecting the health and survivability of the eggs.
As the fish get larger, they are moved to larger tanks. The millions of fish are hatched in this facility then release back to the wild. Only very tiny percentage of the released will return and lay eggs in they birth place. It’s amazing!
The tour of Bonneville Dam started with US Army Corps of Engineers. It was very cool. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and entertaining. Now, we know the origin of that saying “Balls to the walls.”
I always wondered how fish get around the dam. Finally, I saw it with my eyes. It is the fish ladder on the side of a dam shown in picture below. We saw the underwater view of fish ladder. I am so impressed with US Army Corps of Engineers.
Meet lamprey. They are the ugliest fish in this trip. I learned that they are the only fish capable to climb up water falls. I can believe how ugly they are up close. They are also users of fish ladder.
The dam tour ended with over view of the power generator underneath the dam. I can’t believe how much electricity generated by each turbo. No wonder the electricity is cheap in Oregon.
Nothing fuels the soul quite like traveling to faraway places, and road trips especially ignite the imagination in wonderful ways. Living on an island it’s easy to forget the simple pleasure of measuring space and time in miles and days. Last week in DC, we tested the waters separating relations from relationships, as we navigated the distance between Metro and Ma kai. Today in Dupree, Oregon we made new friends and caught up with an old one, building a bridge from aloha to goodbye. Here’s my notes of the experience and pictures of the day.
We left La Quinta for the Northwest Wine Company in Dundee, Oregon in the Wilamette Valley and reconnected with ex-ALPer, brother Brett Miller, now Hyland’s Vineyard Manager.Winery tour with Anne Sery Winemaker.
2015 processed 4000 tons of grapes
fermentation 10 days to 2 mos
60 gallon barrels made from oak from france 200-300 yr old trees.
Williamette Valley wine does not get as much of a premium as a single vineyard wine. $20 bottle vs $40-80 for single vineyard.
Increase yield to keep cost lower.
9600 gallon tanks
They store wine in 60 gallon barrels for up to 18 months, each barrel is used about 8 years.
temperature 14-18 degrees C.
pack 1900 cases per day
Robert Moshier NW COO
2014 a record year for Oregon wine
NW is a custom biz to biz maker started 2003
2007 bought first vineyard w Hyland, now own 500 acres out of 25k statewide
Produce an average 2 to 3 tons of grapes per acre; 63 cases per ton
Oregon wine production relatively small at 5M cases annually vs 2015 CA’s pinoit noir production down 3.8M cases, almost equal to OR’s entire output.
NW’s custom crush focuses on price points of $15-25 per bottle.
65-70% of production is pinot noir.
NW grows and process their own grapes and also process and package fruit from other vineyards for their private labels, who trust them to make the wine they desire.
2015 bumper crop created a surplus of pinot noir wine which is suppressing prices. due to shorter spring so it gets warmer earlier creating more fruit.
they are being true to their sense of style and sense of place in Willamette Valley.
Prefer synthetic cork vs natural cork bc natural has a bacteria that causes as much as 10% wine loss. they use natural corks mostly for the higher end wines. synthetic corks don’t last as long (5yrs) and could allow wine to oxidize quicker. natural corks maintain their elasticity longer. 15c vs 50cents per natural cork.
vineyards are 12 miles away from tasting room which is unusual.
Brady Moran, Direct Sales Manager, runs the tasting room, Their wine club has 465 members; most live within driving distance. min $380 for 11 bottles and double that for premium members.
May is Oregon Wine Month
During spring 100 people per day on weekends visit the tasting room.
Dundee is the epicenter of Willamette Valley winemaking
1% of US wine made in Oregon but Willamette is on the rise.
Hyland brand is only 5% of the wine they make.
Brett Miller vineyard tour, dude has clearly found his true element.
Site we visited had 185 acres, about 800 foot elevation; planted in 1979
one crop per year per vineyard.
They plant radishes and cover crop between rows.
Workforce of 5 tractor drivers plus 20 on the ground workers.
season starts when avg temp is 55 and ends when it isn’t
white wine fruit picked by hand because fruit is more sensitive.
red wines mostly harvested mechanically.
They plant on sloping hillsides to direct water away from the vines and to increase airflow. no irrigation; every other row cover cropped for better water use.
They snip the tips and cull small leaves to increase fruit yield and maximize canopy for sun exposure.
$50K an acre to plant and get it going.
Hyland Vineyards (crop) and Northwest Wine (production) are separate businesses.
grape vines are self pollinating.
Brooks Hand Crafted Wines
Davin McNeil, Kaneohe boy has managed Brooks for 6 years
Claire Jarreau, winemaker
23 acres, annual production 380 tons, 26k cases
doubled production in past two years.
2013 built new tasting room
ferment in very small lots
Founded by Jimmy Brooks in 1998. passed away in 2004. Other winemakers came together to help his sister keep Brooks dream alive for his eight year old son.
Demeter biodynamic certification. requires 10% of land set aside for biodiversity of certain plant and animal species. no spray natural methods to better sustain the land. proactive rather than reactive management. do no harm and take methods to enhance the land and wildlife. vermi-composting a big component. work within the community for their inputs – eg manure from nearby dairy farm is used to cut the waste from their pressings.
red wines age 10-18 months
barrel cellar doesnt need refrigeration. 700-800 barrels. bought a lot of barrels from CA b/c of drought which stunted crop yields and wine production vs OR which had surplus grapes causing barrels to be in short supply.
I could feel the proverbial weight of sensory overload and crammed metro stations lift off of our should as we left the metropolitan area of our nation’s capital on a near empty metro line for rural Maryland. It was a relief to breath the open air as we stepped out of the metro station and met with Dr. Janet Slovin to head out to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Station. Her passion for agriculture was immediately apparent, and we could see why, once we began our tour of their facility. Having met with members of The House and Senate Ag Committee’s, it was great to see where the policy and dollars were being spent so close to the center of our democratic system. Where the rubber met the road.
First stop was their dairy, where they were doing production based research on milk manufacturing to help meet our ever growing domestic demand. The dairy industry in Hawaii has been decreasing dramatically over the last twenty years, similar to that of agriculture in general. Similar to other industries, it quite simply is more economical for us to import finished dairy products to the consumers in Hawaii than it is to maintain or establish operations locally. The millennials such as myself that were born and raised in Hawaii have probably never seen what a dairy operation even looks like, as the only two production facilities existing in the state are located in rural areas of Hawaii island. Because of that, even ag enthusiast find themselves becoming more and more separated from what goes into creating our milk products. With an effort to expand a recently purchased operation on the Hamakua coast however, this experience was very welcomed. It was eye opening to see the various metrics this industry uses to measure production, animal health, feed intake, and efficient breeding practices. Dr. Baldwin was very passionate about his work and gave us great insight into what sort of progress they are making to address the milk demand, even as dozens of large dairy operations are closing their doors in California this year.
We then spent some time with Dr. Kim Lewers in a few of their strawberry patches, where they are testing growing methods and varietal selection. Like many types of agriculture, they work to address the many diseases that come up when growing fruits. One interesting piece of research they are doing is figuring out how to come up with a uniform variety of strawberry that meets the need of both nurseries and fruit producers. Nurseries desire plants that produce a lot of runners so that they have a sort of seed stock readily available for higher potted plant sales, while fruit producers are seeking varieties that concentrate their growth on the actual fruit rather than the runners. With the research being done on gene triggering, they hope to find a hybrid that “triggers” the fruiting gene and switches off the runner producing gene at a certain point in the maturity cycle. We were also given the treat of eating as many strawberries as out tropical hearts desired throughout the educational tour.
On a more applicable note, we had a chance to spend time with Dr. Meihardt, who was doing significant research on cacao and coffee production in an highly technical greenhouse on site. Cacao for chocolate production is a sector of the Hawaii ag industry that many of us have had exposure to, directly and indirectly, as our state looks to find a suitable orchard crop to add to our unique portfolio of specialty and beverage crops. We learned that Hawaii is the only place in the US that is actively expanding their efforts to grow domestically, due to our tropical climate. We currently have approximately 30 acres in production with a few hundred more acres in development this year. It was great to see the support our federal government was providing us through research, and hope that this continues as we commit more of our resources to this universally desired sweet. With the coffee berry bore presence having a significant effect on one of our more well known exports this year, the work this station is doing on developing solutions to this concern is critical to the survival of one of our few success stories in Hawaii ag.
Having spent so much time in the previous 3 days with members of our delegation, ag committee staff members, and USDA representatives, it was refreshing to see positive proactive work being done to assist our food producers on the ground level. Being so far removed from the continental US, federal programs at times can seem daunting and reactive, with little progress being made to address our growing concerns before the next one is upon us. Beltsville was a visible representation that the money allocated for the Farm Bill was being used for more than Food Stamps, drought relief, and research that would never impact Hawaii in our lifetime. The researchers we met with were enthusiastic about the work they were doing, and were quick to point out the many ways their work was effecting even our little state in the middle of the Pacific.