Today is your day,
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away! – Dr. Suess
We started off our third day of seminar two on Oahu with a beautiful sunrise at our beach front accommodations in Punalu’u and it only got better from there.
Our first stop of the day was in Waimanalo with Fung Yang, owner of Small Kine Mushroom Farm. Yang is also an ALP Alumnus from the most recent class XV. Yang shared his path to becoming a farmer in Waimanalo that started with his business of collecting man-made recyclables from across Oahu. After a few months he realized that this was not completely satisfying, and he started to think about other opportunities to utilize waste. Organic waste represents a significant proportion on the waste stream and while out in nature Yang had noticed that nature manages waste in a much more efficient way than we do. He wanted to find a way to mirror nature’s talent for recycling waste into a system that could produce food and income.
Fast forward nine years of research and development and Yang has developed a composting method to turn green waste, primarily coconut green waste, into sterile, organic mushroom substrate. He uses the substrate to grow portabella mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have grown and been harvested he can sell the spent mushroom substrate (SMS) to gardeners. Although the SMS is no longer suitable for growing mushrooms it has a host of nutrients that are very beneficial for other plants. What a great full circle system that produces food and income.
We also had the pleasure of tasting some of the keiki portabella also known as crimini mushrooms. These mushrooms were incredibly refreshing and a wonderful reflection of the quality and superiority of locally grown produce. It was interesting to me that the difference between crimini or the keiki portabella and tutu portabellas that are more than double the size (minimum 4-inch diameter) is only two additional days of growth. Check out Small Kine Farm website to learn more and see the restaurants, farmers markets and CSAs where you can experience Yang’s mushrooms for yourself.
We then moved a little further back into Waimanalo to visit Frankie Sekiya of Frankie’s Nursery that specializes in Tropical and Sub-Tropical fruit trees. “Specializes” may be an understatement based on the level of expertise and knowledge that both Frankie and his assistant Yupin “Jenny” Bickel shared with us, but no doubt you can find an amazing array of specialty products there.
We were treated to a mango grafting demonstration. Frankie and Jenny demonstrated grafting one of his most popular mango varieties “Rapozo” onto a dwarf inter-stock that had a disease resistance root stock. The disease resistant root stock protects the plant from infection and the dwarfing inter-stock will keep the mango tree from getting too large and make harvest in the future much easier to manage. Grafting is something that many of us have tried with mixed results, but Frankie and Jenny made it look like a breeze and they were very generous in fielding all of our questions and sharing their knowledge with us.
Frankie also shared the story of the Mele Kalima (Honey Cream) pineapple. This is a unique patented variety that Frankie developed and it has amazingly sweet and smooth flavor as the name implies. It was a chance hybridization between the “Dry Sweet” and “Hilo White” pineapples that took place in the nursery. Frankie noticed the fertilized pineapple that had seeds and planted them out. One of those seeds eventually became the selection that is the basis of the Mele Kalima variety. It has a higher sugar content than all documented varieties, low acid content, creamy yellow color and a crisp texture. AKA Delicious! It was a great story and flavorful too. We could have stopped there and I think we would have all been very happy, but the adventure was not over.
Frankie and Jenny took us on a stroll through the Orchard which was more akin to an enchanted forest of fruit trees and other delights like peppercorn plants, mini pineapples and one plant with leaves that taste like sautéed garlic. We tasted snake fruit, aptly named for the skin of the fruit that looks just like snake skin. We also tried jaboticaba a round purplish- black fruit that taste very much like rich grapes with thicker skins and are from Brazil. Of course there are many of the more familiar fruits like mangos, rambutan, avocado, jackfruit and guava to name a few.
There were so many more from all over the tropics and sub-tropics I know that I cannot do them justice. I encourage you to visit Frankie’s and see for yourself. Frankie frequently travels to other tropical locations to find the best cultivars to bring to Hawaii and only sells them once he has proofed their performance out in Waimanalo.
In addition to the vast selection of plants for sale they also have a retail market where they sell fresh fruit, delicious fresh fruit juices and more tasty treats. They also offer consultations and they propagate everything right there. You can check more about Frankie’s Nursery on their website for more information.