Richard Ha writes:
The master gardeners came to visit Hamakua Springs yesterday. I told them their entry fee was that they had to listen to my pitch about the Big Island Community Coalition, through which we advocate for lowest electricity rates in the state.
We all laughed, and then I handed them flyers to post everywhere they can.
The Master Gardeners, solely as volunteers, help staff the University Extension Service. Somone pointed out that when they are not there, the Extension Service office is empty.
It was great to talk with people who grow things and have hands-on experience with insect and disease issues. They peered under leaves and asked lots of questions. Many of them grow tomatoes, so we had a lot in common. We feel a special closeness to them.
I pointed out that smaller growers have a very difficult time both farming and maintaining the detailed paperwork necessary to become Food Safety-certified. The Food Safety program evolved as large retailers pushed the liability down the chain. It is neither good nor bad – It just is.
Someone asked how long we have been at Pepe‘ekeo and why we chose this location, and I explained that we started looking at different possible locations 20 years ago. Plantations were closing down, the market was on O‘ahu – there were many factors in play.
What it came down to were the physical resources. At Pepe‘ekeo, which is located close to a deep water port, there is deep soil, and most of all, there is an abundance of water. Our average annual rainfall here is close to 140 inches per year. More than 1/4 of the volume of water that goes to the Ewa plains on O‘ahu flows downhill through our farm alone. And there is a 150-foot elevation difference in the water flow.
That water was free, and would be free for as long as we could imagine. We made our decision based on free water.