Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waipiʻo Valley Visit and Meeting with Taro Farmers

A clear hot day on the island of Hawaiʻi, we followed our hosts, Kaʻiulani and Tom Pahio down the steep, narrow road to the valley floor.  The Taro Security and Purity Task Force was represented by chairman Alapaki Luke and board members Penny Levin and Dean Uyeno.  The newest board member Brent Neil, a farmer in Pahoa, was in attendance accompanied by his wife Brittany.  The goal of the day was to talk story with the farmers in Waipiʻo Valley and hear their concerns that the task force could advocate for in the next year.

Our hosts gave us a tour toward the back of the valley and we were graced with the beauty of the two waterfalls.  Waipiʻo Valley had been blessed with a lot of rain earlier in the week and we saw evidence of the water of the river being high.  But on the sunny August 25th Saturday, the water levels returned to normal and we saw many farmers working on their ʻāina.  There were families out enjoying the good weather and children enjoying their Saturday off from school.

We would like to thank Jason and Alberta Mock Chew for allowing us to meet on their ʻāina.  Mahalo to the farmers that came to share their manaʻo and to our hosts Kaʻiulani and Tom Pahio for the ʻono food.

The meeting was small in attendance but the issues discussed were very heart felt and important.  Apple snails, ways to preserve taro farmer information for the next generation, and updates on Task Force initiatives were shared.

Waipiʻo Valley was a gracious host and those who made the trip were humbled by the ʻāina and the kanaka.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mahalo to the Star Advertiser, they have our call out for applications for our vacant seats for Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island.  Here is the link to the web edition and they will run the print on Wednesday.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Taro Task Force Background info

Task Force Creation and BackgroundOn July 3, 2008, Governor Linda Lingle signed Act 211, Regular Session Laws 2008, which calls for the establishment of the Taro Security and Purity Task Force and names OHA as the task force's administrator. Senate Bill 2915, S.D. 2, H.D. 1, C.D. 1, originally called for equal funding for the task force to come from both OHA and the state. However, when Governor Lingle enacted the bill, she removed all of the state's $325,000 funding share for the task force. Therefore, the act became an unfunded mandate for OHA to establish and administer the Taro Security and Purity Task Force.  Shortly after the bill was enacted, OHA staff began setting up the membership of the task force.  Staff mailed letters to the various agencies and organizations that the act indicates shall have representation on the task force. Those agencies and organizations were given until September 15 to respond with a written statement naming their representatives, and they all responded in a timely manner. The agency representatives are as follows:

1) Department of Agriculture - Leslie Iseke, Plant Specialist, Plant Quarantine Branch

2) Department of Land and Natural Resources - Dean Uyeno,

3) University of Hawai'i - Dr. Carl Evenson

4) 'Onipa'a Na Hui Kalo - Daniel Bishop, Kalo Farmer, Waiāhole Oʻahu

5) Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation - Vacant Seat

In consultation with a number of taro farmers, OHA set up a process to select the kalo farmer representatives. Act 211 states that at least two task force representatives shall come from the "taro growing communities" on Kaua'i, O'ahu, Maui, Moloka'i and Hawai'i Island. OHA staff and the taro farmers developed the following qualifications for these representatives. 
Each must:
1) be a farmer actively growing kalo;
2) have at least three years of kalo farming experience;
3) be growing kalo on the island they seek to represent; and
4) be capable of participating in task force activities, including traveling to other islands to attend meetings.

With the task force being an ongoing and growing entity, these are the current members and the vacancies are noted.g

Hawai'i Island
2 Vacant Seats

Applications are due on April 30th, 2012.  
Please submit applications to the Taro Security and Purity Task Force c/o E kupaku ka ‘aina, 224 Ainahou Place, Wailuku, HI 96793 or by email to by April 30, 2012.  For more information contact Hiʻilani Shibata 808-371-0452 or

Lyn Scott, Waiʻoli, Maui
Shayne Nameaaea Hoshino, Wailua, Maui


Kawehi Ryder - Mr. Ryder has grown taro since the 1970s, in such places as Waipi'o Valley and 'Opihikao on Hawai'i Island, on Moloka'i and at his kuleana lands in Ahuimanu on O'ahu. Mr. Ryder is 
currently restoring ancient lo'i in Maunalei Valley on Lana'i and also grows taro for subsistence pNurposes and also cultivates varieties of kalo, mai'a, 'uala, 'awa and ko on a quarter-acre of land at his home on the island. Mr. Ryder has served on OHA's Native Hawaiian Historic Preservation Council. He currently runs a landscaping and cultural restoration business, and is contracted by Castle & Cook Hawai'i.

Glenn Teves - Mr. Teves is a UH CTAHR employee growing dry-land kalo on a quarter-acre of land on his Ho'olehua homestead. He has grown taro for over 20 years, and has grown kalo commercially for the last 10 years. Mr. Teves has grown over 30 different varieties of Hawaiian kalo and indicates that he produces the largest yields of dry-land taro on the island. 

Leslie Yee Hoy -Mr. Yee Hoy has grown kalo on Moloka'i for 10 years. He currently operates a lo'i in Halawa Valley, and commutes there regularly from his home on O'ahu. Mr. Yee Hoy is interested in helping to preserve the lesser known Hawaiian taro varieties. 


Mark Sung Alapaki Luke - Another young taro fmmer, Mr. Luke first began working in lo'i as a child with his grandmother and 'ohana, and has grown kalo in Kahana Valley since 1999. He also works part-time at Ka Papa Lo'i 'O Kanewai, the taro patches at Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, UH-Manoa. In addition, Mr. Luke teaches Hawaiian studies at Kamakakuokalani and geography at Honolulu Community College, and uses the lo'i to teach public high school students about kalo farming.

Keoki Fukumitsu
 - A seventh generation kalo farmer, Mr. Fukumitsu grew up in lo'i and has been a taro fanner for many years. He learned to farm kalo from his 'ohana, as well as a number of renowned kalo farmers from across the state. He grows kalo on his family's kuleana lands in Hakipu'u. Mr. Fukumitsu served on the Board of Directors for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation. He has hosted over 15,000 people at his lo'i through Queen Lili'uokalani Children's Center, Alu Like, Kamehameha Schools, UH-Manoa, Honolulu Community College, Windward Community College, Hawai'i Pacific University, Hawai'i State Hospital and O'ahu Men's Correctional Facility.

Christine Kobayashi -Mrs. Kobayashi's family has been growing kalo in Hanalei for four generations, and she took over her family's farm in 1990. For the last decade, she has used organic and sustainable practices on her 10-acre farm. Her knowledge of organic and sustainable farming methods would be a valuable addition to the task force. 

1 Vacant Seat
Applications are due on April 30th, 2012.  
Please submit applications to the Taro Security and Purity Task Force c/o E kupaku ka ‘aina, 224 Ainahou Place, Wailuku, HI 96793 or by email to by April 30, 2012.  For more information contact Hiʻilani Shibata 808-371-0452 or

Botanical garden or taro collections
Penny Levin - 
Ms. Levin has grown wetland and dryland kalo for over 20 years and has been growing traditional Hawaiian varieties in Ke’anae on Maui for the last four years. She apprenticed in taro patches from Oahu to Hawaii island. She is also a member of 'Onipa'a Na Hui Kalo. Ms. Levin has conducted research on the impacts of the apple snail, widely regarded as the biggest threat to kalo, and helped produce a statewide control plan for the pest. Along with Jim Cain and others, she was involved in the early DOA discussions on taro security and purity, helped prepare the report for those discussions and helped draft S.B. 2915. OHA received letters nominating Penny Levin as the botanical garden and taro coI1ection representative from Maui Nui Botanical Gardens; David Orr, the botanical coIlections specialist at Hi'ipaka LLC, Waimea Valley; and Alton Arakaki, the CTAHR extension agent on Moloka'i whose Hawaiian taro collection is mentioned in Act 211.
OHA representative
John Keikiala Aana - Mr. Aana has grown kalo commercially for over 30 years. He is the founder and former owner of Makaweli Poi Mill Inc. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

New members sought for Taro Task Force from Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Islands

The Taro Security and Purity Task Force is seeking applicants to fill seats for Kauai and Hawaii Islands interested in working collaboratively for the common goal of helping kalo (taro) to thrive once again.

Kalo, a crop plant sacred to Native Hawaiians, has been heavily impacted by pests and diseases, flooding, drought, lack of stream water, land, and a new generation of growers.
Since 2010, the aim of the task force has been to bring together taro stakeholder groups and potential partners, including taro farmers, Native Hawaiians, agencies and scientists, to implement the recommendations of its 2010 Report to the Legislature (  
The task force includes two farmers from Kaua'i, O'ahu, Maui, Moloka'i and the Big Island, one taro farmer from Lana’i, as well as one representative from OHA, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the state Department of Agriculture, the University of Hawai'i, the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, Onipa’a Na Hui Kalo, a statewide organization of taro farmers, and a representative for the taro collections and botanical gardens. 
One seat is open for Kauai and two seats for Hawaii Island.  Interested applicants must meet the following qualifications:
  1. Actively growing taro on the island they seek to represent; 
  2. Have a minimum of three years experience in taro production; and, 
  3. Be capable participating in task force activities, including traveling to other islands to attend regular meetings and sharing information throughout the taro farming communities of their island.  
The task force will select the best qualified applicants to serve as representatives. Member travel for kalo farmer representatives will be covered by a grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  
Applications must include the applicant’s full name, address and contact information, a brief description of their fulfillment of the required qualifications, what they believe they will be able to contribute to the task force, and a short list of what they believe are the most important problems facing kalo.  Please submit applications to the Taro Security and Purity Task Force c/o E kupaku ka ‘aina, 224 Ainahou Place, Wailuku, HI 96793 or by email to by April 30, 2012.  For more information contact Hiʻilani Shibata 808-371-0452 or
The Taro Security and Purity Task Force was created by Act 211, Session Laws of Hawaii in July 2008.