A Feet of Agriculture

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Ok, I will be honest and say that I am writing this blog because I was asked to write a blog. This is a good thing though, to quote Martha, cause I might not have otherwise. I have said before that I needed inspiration first. I am not the type to just sit down and start writing. Well inspiration is now at hand, and feet actually. I will explain the ‘feet actually’ part, but as it is I sit here thinking now how many different directions that this subject could take me, so before I begin let me say forgive me if I digress extensively.

feetBack to the feet. I love my feet! I love walking, almost on level with a Forrest Gump type. I have taken walks of 8-12 hrs just to clear and sort my thoughts. My feet are a great source of inspiration for me. On my walks I let my mind wonder, taking in the sites of my surroundings. In the ‘old days’ back in the ‘default world’ I was often walking through neighborhoods. The sites that I saw were other people’s yards. I would absorb the arrangement of plants that others had put together, make alterations on mental graph paper and file them away.

In 2004 my partner Kimo led me to Kalani and my feet were immediately excited, 120 acres to walk around and call home. Actually, we came to play a game of volleyball and were so impressed that we decided to volunteer and we have been here ever since. I went into the Landscape dept. and was soon walking here and there, making great discoveries for a Midwest farm boy. On one of my walks I was up along the mauka border of Kalani when I came across the Kalani plant nursery. I remember being so excited to see all these exotic tropical plants. It was only a few tables but that was it I started dreaming of all the gardens I could create with these beauties. My feet once again brought me to a space ripe with inspiration and my mind began picking the fruit. I took up the care of the nursery, weeding it, organizing like plants together, and watering.

It was a great space, but shortly after I was asked to head up the department, I decided to move the nursery to a more central location on property. At that time I had only one volunteer helping but we were ho’omau, determined to make it even better in the new space. And boy did we. We started propagating from cuttings we collected in the existing gardens on Kalani and from some “found” on roadside walks. Thank you feet. We grew slowly, but we grew. It was the experience that was important not the speed with which we created.

It was also a learning experience. Ti and ginger do not grow like corn and tomatoes. Then along came Bud ‘the wiser’ who sat down beside us and said, here let me show you how it is done. The best way to do this is to blah, blah, blah. I told him that I always thought the best way to do it was to have the guy with the best way, do it. So I put him in charge of our propagation efforts and before we knew it the nursery had grown to about one acre.

BarcusAll this time my feet were taking me all over Kalani. I have gone into areas that humans have not gone in decades if not centuries. On one of those walks I came across an area that was dominated by invasive non-native plants. These I knew would have to come down. So I began thinking of what to replace them with, when it came to me the idea of turning it into a nursery spot. It was on the mauka end of Kalani again, it was in line with our maintenance/solar building, and Bud was already saying that we needed more room if he was to continue producing more plants. So I put it before my crew who thought it was a big job, but also who new my favorite word was Ho’omau, determined.

Well it took us about 2 yrs but my feet now stand in our new mauka nursery. It is about four acres and includes an aquaponic vegetable and herb garden, composting site, and hundreds of exotic tropical plants. In our native/cultural plant collection alone we have 72 Kou, 30 Kukui, over 100 Pohinahina , and over 300 Ti plants just to mention a few. We also have palms, cycads, gingers, crotons, lilies, ferns, and orchids again just to mention a few. In short it is a GREAT SPACE that my feet lead me to. My feet take me here every morning now. I even come here with eight other feet on the weekend when I walk our two dogs. They like it too, lots to smell. Ahhhhhh, again I love my feet. They always keep taking me one step closer to my dreams. Mahalo no na kupuna.