Our 2016 fall issue is our DRINK issue. Yes, we are fully aware that we have a cover image that is not a drink. Usually the cover reflects a strong theme that runs throughout the magazine. The dish is Pastrami Kampachi and Kampachi grows in water, right? We did feature locally grown garlic in this issue and the cover images uses green garlic in the on-line recipe.
When our designer, Scott Johnson and I saw this image we knew it was our cover image. Yes, we did mock up other covers but nothing looked quite right. Sometimes that how cover selection happens and we need to learn to be ok with this process.
So, enjoy this drink-themed issue. Fish and all!
Pastrami Kampachi “Bruschetta” with Green Garlic- Sesame “Pesto”
Green Garlic Pesto:
227 grams Green Garlic (tops only green parts, trimmed, blanched, shocked and squeezed dry)
227 grams Cilantro (picked, washed, blanched, shocked and squeezed dry)
WRITTEN BY DENISE LAITINEN PHOTOS COURTESY OF HAWAIIAN OLA
Brett Jacobson is a glass half-full kind of guy. But instead of water, his glass contains tea made from Kona coffee leaves, energy drinks made from noni and hard cider made from dragon fruit. As founder of Hawaiian Ola, a Hawai‘i Island beverage company, Brett and his teammates have created a market for healthy drink products while simultaneously providing economic growth for island farmers.
In just six short years the company has grown to off er more than 16 diff erent drink products, while enjoying 100 percent year-overyear growth. It is currently in the process of launching the state’s fi rst hard cider company with its own processing facility in Kailua- Kona.
But Hawaiian Ola is more than just a beverage company.
“Hawaiian Ola started as a non-profi t,” says Naehalani Breeland, CEO of the company. “The idea was to empower local farmers, to grow organically in Hawai‘i.”
It all started a decade ago when Brett visited his childhood friend Derek Pittman, whose family had moved to the Captain Cook area and were living on an off -grid farm. The two had known each other since they were teens when Brett worked in Derek’s family store in California.
Coming from an area in northern California that’s heavily focused on agriculture, Brett, who has a background in general contracting, was looking at buying land of his own and getting involved in sustainable farming.
“I saw people who moved here and farmed the land and then didn’t share the wealth with the community,” says Brett. “I didn’t want to be a part of that.”
He knew he didn’t want to get into large-scale farming or seed farming, and he wanted to plant fruits that had minimum impact on the environment.
He bought some land in Miloli‘i that could best be described as marginal and started planting noni trees – a lot of noni trees.
“We started with noni because we had lots of people off ering us noni tree starts,” says Brett. “We used land that’s marginal, not land that’s really expensive.”
After planting all that noni, Brett had to fi gure out what to do with it. About that time, another one of Brett’s northern California neighbors, Chris Whidden, moved to Hawai‘i Island and bought a farm down the street from Brett.
After spending about a year in research and development, Brett and his fellow farming neighbors decided to create organic noni energy drinks. Launched at the end of 2012 when energy shots were growing in popularity, the drinks did well and things took off from there.
“The driver for this product was, if we source all the ingredients in Hawai‘i and create a demand for these products, then that’s going to carry through to the farming community and create something that’s beneficial for the community long-term,” says Chris, who now works as Hawaiian Ola’s brand manager.
“A lot of what we try to do is create a demand for something where the farmer can make a sustainable income while competing with the imported price,” Brett adds.
A year after the first noni energy shots hit store shelves, they introduced a caffeine- free version followed by a line of flavored sparkling noni drinks featuring turmeric, ginger, pineapple and beet.
The ingredients used in their drinks are sourced from farmers practicing responsible farming practices. For instance, their ginger comes from Kaua‘i; the Hawaiian sea salt used in the sparkling noni drinks comes from Moloka‘i, while their Pineapple Punch includes honey from Hōnaunau’s Big Island Bees.
Along the way, Hawaiian Ola shifted from a non-profit to a B-Corporation, a move that enables them to bridge the gap between non-profit and corporation. One of only a handful of B-Corporations in the state, the company has made extensive commitments to running a business with a triple bottom line that looks at the social and environmental impacts of their business, as well as economic factors.
It is their Kona coff ee leaf tea that perhaps best exemplifi es Hawaiian Ola’s philosophy to support Hawai‘i’s economy while empowering and educating island farmers.
This past summer, Hawaiian Ola launched a line of organic drinks made from Kona coff ee leaves. Normally, coff ee leaves are pruned from mature coff ee trees and discarded. But what farmers saw as green waste, Brett and his team saw as an opportunity.
“One of the reasons Kona Tea came into being is that we saw a problem with local ag crops,” Brett says, referring to the coff ee berry borer (CBB). “If something is eating away and destroying ag, how can we utilize our skill set to off set the ag land that’s being abandoned? I saw a lot of people giving up on their coff ee [farms.]
“The overall purpose of our organization is to lower the amount of poison that is spread throughout the ʻāina that eventually winds up in the ocean,” Brett adds. “There are certain crops that are not going away, like coff ee. We looked at it and asked, ‘How can we get people to stop spraying Roundup, while helping farmers impacted by CBB?’”
They came up with the idea of creating tea from coff ee leaves. The leaves are naturally caff einated and rich in anti-oxidants, but are not impacted by the pest destroying the coff ee cherry. Leading by example, they didn’t just buy the coff ee leaves, the Hawaiian Ola team leased a coff ee farm in Kona as a demonstration site to show other farmers how to strip the coff ee leaves from the stalks and dry them to make a tea. It was a true group eff ort with everyone from the marketing director to website designer harvesting the leaves. Their Kona Tea brand now off ers two diff erent fl avors of tea in both bottled and loose-leaf form.
“Farmers can harvest their trees every six months and just harvest leaves, regardless of the coff ee cherry,” says Brett.
Tea made from coff ee leaves may sound unusual but like all the products that Hawaiian Ola produces, it’s based on economic factors as well as environmental ones. According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc., the tea market accounted for $11 billion in sales in 2014 with Americans drinking 80 billion servings of tea in 2015. In fact, tea can be found in nearly 80 percent of all homes in the U.S.
With a proven track record in the energy drink and tea markets, the Hawaiian Ola team looked around at emerging drink markets and ways they could help Hawai‘i’s organic farmers benefi t from those markets. At the same time, they’ve been dealing with the high costs of bottling their products on the mainland because they were unable to fi nd a bottling facility in the state that fi t their needs in terms of scale and organic certifi cation.
While processing facilities on the mainland makes distribution to retail markets there easier, (Hawaiian Ola drinks can be found in more than 422 retail chains across Hawai‘i and the mainland,) it’s also expensive, as well as out-of-line with the company’s environmental beliefs.
The result is the launch of Hawai‘i Cider Co., an organization separate from Hawaiian Ola, and the creation of their own 10,000-squarefoot manufacturing facility in Kailua-Kona. Hawai‘i Cider Co. and Hawaiian Ola are splitting the production costs 50-50 of the facility, which is expected to be operational by the end of the year.
Hawai‘i Cider Co. will be the fi rst of its kind in the state. They’ve partnered with local chef Allan Hess, who recently opened Mai Grille in Waikoloa, and brought in brew master Sebastian Bach who has more than 36 national and international beer brewing awards to his name. One of the fi rst fl avors of cider will be dragon fruit.
“Dragon fruit, lychee – these are really cool fl avors of ciders that you don’t normally see in stores,” says Brett. By creating demand for this product, farmers will be able to expand their farms knowing there’s a reliable market for their crops.
“By having our production facilities here, we can do small runs on demand,” adds Chris. “Since we won’t be paying for shipping, we can pay the farmers more for their produce.”
The bottling facility isn’t just the cider company and Hawaiian Ola products. Empowering local farmers is one of the core values of their organization, and Brett said they already have farmers waiting to use their co-packing facilities before the fi rst piece of equipment even arrives on island.
Hawai‘i Cider Co. is in the midst of a fundraising campaign. True to form, it’s not a typical Gofundme campaign. People who donate become investors in the company. Brett felt it was important for Hawai‘i residents to be able to purchase one of their products, whether it be in Safeway, Whole Foods, Foodland, or 7-11 and say, “I own a piece of this company.”
In the end it’s another triple win: people get to purchase healthy drinks, farmers are able to create reliable income streams from responsibly farmed crops, and by using organic products, there are less pesticides being used in the islands.
WRITTEN BY JAMES CHARISMA PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES CHARISMA
Sundays in Kaimukī are for lounging and relaxation. For enjoying a cup of cold brew at The Curb coffee shop, or sharing a slice of decadent liliko‘i or Key lime cheesecake at Otto Cake bakery. Saturdays are for fun, but Sundays are for chilling.
Which is precisely why, when local chef and restaurateur Ed Kenney decided to launch a new brunch program at his Kaimukī eatery, Mud Hen Water, he set it on Saturdays. The point isn’t being one day early, it’s about turning a conventional dining experience on its head. As owner of the wildly popular and inventive Town, Kaimuki Superette and the new Mahina & Sun’s restaurants, trying the unconventional is something Kenney knows best.
With dishes like waffle-fried chicken wings featuring spicy guava glaze and locally-sourced lacinato kale cole slaw on the side, Saturday brunch at Mud Hen Water weaves together classic dishes with a local or Pacific flair.
The star of the show is Mud Hen Water’s cava bar: purchase a 6 oz. carafe of Segura Viudas cava (Spanish wine) for $12, then mix flavors and ingredients to create build-your-own sangrias or mimosas. Begin with a few drops of syrups such as honey, hibiscus and lavender, then pop in fruits like sliced strawberries, papaya, champagne grapes, calamansi, dragon and star fruit. Finish with a splash of freshly squeezed orange, cranberry, liliko‘ i, pineapple or mango juice, and top it off with a few edible flowers. Why wait until Sunday to indulge?
Walk into any island grocery to pick up milk and you are overwhelmed primarily by choices imported from the mainland: imported cow, almond, cashew, coconut, hemp, oat, rice and soy milks. This summer, Royal Hawaiian Orchards of Hilo finally released their much-anticipated Hawaiian macadamia nut milk to grocery stores throughout the islands. You can now buy a quart of delicious, creamy, local and sustainable mac nut milk at your local food store, a wonderful option to help keep our dollars in-state.
Macadamia nuts have one of the best fatty acid profiles of any nut, with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and lowest levels of phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that impairs mineral absorption. Enjoyed in moderation, mac nuts and mac nut milk can help us maintain a healthy weight by providing an excellent source of high-quality fat.
Unfortunately, most nut milks available for commercial retail include many nutritionally void fillers, including the very ambiguous additive “natural flavors,” which could be composed of dozens of ingredients, natural and synthetic alike. If you want to know exactly what you’re drinking, it’s easy and enjoyable to make your own quart of frothy macadamia nut milk from Hawai‘i-grown mac nuts and filtered water.
Macadamias are a tree seed indigenous to the eastern shore of Australia, where they were a food source for the ancient Aborigines. Today they are a valuable food crop in Hawaii; this past year’s (2015-2016) Hawaiian harvest reached a record high in both quantity and price. Our state currently has over 16,000 acres in nut orchard production including over one million trees statewide, creating a $45 million industry that sustains orchards primarily on Hawai‘i Island, including the well-known brands Mauna Loa (one of the world’s largest producers), Hamakua and Tropical Farms on O‘ahu.
Macadamia nuts were introduced to Hawai‘i in 1882 by a young English plant collector, William Purvis, manager of Pacific Sugar Mill, who was looking for an effective windbreak for sugarcane. He planted the first seeds near Waipi‘o Valley, and the macadamia became popular as an ornamental tree. It wasn’t until the post-WW II economic boom that large-scale mac nut plantations took off . Macadamia nuts became a desirable commodity on the mainland, conjuring up the exotic Pacifi c isles to homemakers cooking and baking away in their suburban kitchens.
To make homemade mac nut milk, I wanted to buy raw macadamia nuts as close to my home in Hāwī as possible; I knew just the place: Hawaii Institute of the Pacifi c (HIP) Farm, a young, progressive Hawai‘i Island organic farm tucked into the jungle right off of Highway 270 near mile marker 25. Owner Erika Shickle was gracious enough to give me a tour, in-between prepping for her daily educational fi eld trips with local schools. The HIP Farm orchard is an old one of a few dozen trees, one of the fi rst trial plantings in North Kohala on land deemed unfi t for sugarcane. The gracious, stately trees are thriving, their branches fi lled with green seeds that will drop to the ground this fall, ready for the monthly autumnal harvest gathering by hand. The seeds will then be sent through the husker, and hauled to Kawaihae to be sun-dried in a friend’s yard, cracked and sorted by the farmers into fi rst-quality nuts suitable for snacking and selling, and nuts with minor imperfections better suited for macadamia nut butter or cooking with on the farm. All nuts then go through a light saltwater rinse, and are fi nally dehydrated at very low temperatures. Finally, the farmers package, seal and label the sweet, raw nuts to sell at the Hāwī Farmer’s Market.
Most of the major producers on the island sell roasted mac nuts, which you can use for mac nut milk, but you will have immeasurably sweeter, creamier results with fresh raw nuts. If you happen to be near Hāwī, it’s worth a trip to the Saturday farmer’s market to stock up, or you can mail-order with HIP Farm at 889-6316. Other sources to order Hawai‘i-grown raw mac nuts include the South Kona Macadamia Nut Co., www.southkonamacs.com, which also off ers a lovely bed and breakfast on the property for a weekend of mac nut adventures, and Purdy’s Farm on Moloka‘i, 567-6601. There are dozens of wonderful small orchards that sell at their local farmers market, so please check your market and ask around, hopefully you’ll be able to fi nd some of these raw, rich, buttery treats close to home.
Now all you need is a good blender: a Vitamix if you have one, but no worries if you don’t, an Osterizer will work just fi ne. Unlike many nut milks, macadamia nuts blend so well that straining your milk is optional. For the absolute creamiest, smoothest milk possible, use a nut bag to strain your fi nal product; if you don’t mind a few fl ecks of mac nuts adding a bit of texture and fi ber to your milk, there’s no need to strain.
A general guideline for making nut milk is a ratio of four cups of filtered water to one cup of soaked nuts; less water will yield a thicker, richer “cream” and more water will yield a thinner “skim milk.” It’s a good idea to soak your nuts before using to break down the phytic acid, making the nuts more easily digestible and the nutrients more available; it also makes the nuts softer so they’ll blend more easily and thoroughly. Mac nuts have comparatively low levels of phytic acid, and are thus a “short-soak nut,” requiring only a two-hour soak before use.
If you can resist devouring your entire bag of mac nuts, soak one cup in a glass or bowl of filtered water with a pinch of sea salt and a small squeeze of lemon. After two hours, drain and discard the soaking water, and give your mac nuts a rinse. Toss your soaked mac nuts, three or four cups of filtered water, and a pinch of sea salt into your blender. Blend on high for a full minute and watch the beautiful white foam rise; hopefully you have a cup of coffee or tea ready to plop that foam on top of and savor every sip.
For sweeter milk, I enjoyed adding a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. You could also blend in a couple tablespoons of your favorite raw, local honey, or a few pitted dates. For chocolate milk, blend a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder into sweetened milk, and for strawberry (or other fruit) milk, add two cups of fresh fruit to your sweetened milk. Another flavorful option is soaking your mac nuts alongside a date and cinnamon stick, infusing the mac nuts themselves with a sweeter flavor that they will then bring to your milk. Homemade mac nut milk will last for a few days covered in the fridge; transfer to a mason jar, or just keep your blender in the fridge, which will allow you to give the milk a little “foam-refresh” whenever you are craving more foam for your coffee. Homemade mac nut milk is divine for smoothies, hot and cold cereals, and drinking straight from the glass. Whichever option you choose, enjoy every sip of our rich, creamy, local island gift, and make plenty to share.
When Hawaiian streams swell after a big rain, the force of the water calls its children home. Freshwater snails (hihiwai), shrimp (‘ōpae), and fish (‘o‘opu) begin life high up in the mountain streams. They spend their planktonic stage in the ocean, and then migrate back to their natal pools. To return home, these remarkable creatures must climb 1,000-foot tall waterfalls. They’ve evolved to do just that. But there’s a hitch.
Very few streams in Hawai‘i run freely from mountain to sea. Starting in the mid-1800s, sugar planters built ditches, tunnels and siphons to divert stream water to their thirsty cane fields. Below the diversions, rivers dried up. Those who had relied on that water—stream animals and Hawaiian kalo farmers—learned to do with less, or disappeared. For the last 150 years, the sugar industry has monopolized Hawai‘i’s fresh water resources. Now, with the pending closure of the last sugar plantation, water uses are being re-examined. Kalo farmers are reclaiming their rights. It’s an unprecedented time in Hawai‘i Nei.
Hōkūao Pellegrino lives on two acres beside Waikapū Stream on Maui. He was born and raised in his parent’s house next door. His family’s connection to this land reaches back many generations. His great, great, great, great grandfather Na‘ili‘ili farmed kalo in neighboring ‘Īao Valley and served as one of two konohiki responsible for managing the area’s natural resources.
Pellegrino grew up knowing he was Hawaiian, but not necessarily understanding what that meant to him. In his freshman year of college, his Palauan roommate asked Pellegrino why he couldn’t speak Hawaiian. He decided to learn. That summer he took language classes. He ripped up his parents’ backyard and planted canoe crops—the plants his Polynesian ancestors carried with them when they discovered these islands.
He wanted to restore the old kalo lo‘i (taro patches) above his house, but that proved a steep challenge. The rock retaining walls were still there, buried beneath dense hau thickets, but the water was missing. Many years before, Wailuku Sugar Company installed diversions that had reduced Waikapū stream to a trickle. It remained a fraction of its true self; no ‘ōpae or ‘o‘opu darted in its shallows. “You could not hear the stream at all,” says Pellegrino, “even when sitting by it.”
As it turns out, farming kalo has often meant fighting for water. In 2004, Pellegrino joined farmers from neighboring valleys in an Earthjustice suit against the state Commission on Water Resource Management. They asked the commission to do its job: determine healthy instream flow standards and restore Waikapū, Wailuku Wai‘ehu, and Waihe‘e, the streams known as Nā Wai ‘Ehā, or the Four Great Waters.
According to Hawaiian cosmology, Hāloa, the kalo plant, is the elder brother of the Hawaiian people. The god Kāne brings rain and replenishes streams and springs. Thus, caring for these natural resources is not just a practicality, but an act of devotion. For centuries, Hawaiian farmers cultivated kalo in rain-drenched valleys. These expert agriculturalists developed 300-plus varieties of their staple starch and built ‘auwai (channels) to run cool, fresh stream water through their lo‘i. Water saturated the terraced fields, then returned to the stream and ultimately to the ocean. Along the way it fed fishponds and estuaries.
This highly productive system gave way to external pressures imposed by Western colonialism. Foreign disease and the sandalwood trade in particular removed farmers from their lo‘i.
In 1848, the Great Māhele introduced the concept of land ownership. The children of Hawai‘i’s first missionaries acquired parcels and began growing commodity crops like sugar in sunny, leeward areas. These new fields needed water and lots of it. In 1876, King Kalākaua issued a license to Haiku Sugar Company (the precursor to Alexander & Baldwin), allowing its owners to draw water from East Maui streams. The permission came with a caveat: existing rights or present tenants … along said streams shall in no wise be lessened or affected injuriously.
At first, the sugar ditches didn’t seem much different than traditional ‘auwai: earthen channels directing stream water into the fields. But, significantly, water captured by the plantations wasn’t returned to the streams. As sugarcane fields grew in number and size, so did the ditches. Engineers drilled tunnels through the mountains and built siphons and flumes across steep ravines. Soon they were carrying nearly all of the water off the mountain to irrigate dry, leeward landscapes. This happened on every island, in Hawai‘i’s most fertile valleys.
As the liquid threads connecting the mountain to the ocean were severed, stream animals grew scarce. Kalo farmers living at the base of some of the planet’s wettest mountains couldn’t scrape together enough water to flood their lo‘i. They petitioned an increasingly foreign government for help.
“Do not allow any water rights of the Crown Lands of Honomanu, Keanae, and Wailua to be lost to the millionaire Claus Spreckels,” wrote 13 East Maui kalo farmers in 1881. They implored commissioners to reject a water lease requested by Spreckels, a California sugar baron. “We already know what the millionaire has done with the water on other lands.” In 1902, Nahiku homesteaders won a small victory. A water lease awarded to Henry Baldwin stipulated that he was not to interfere “with the vested interests in the water of landowners in Keanae or Wailuanui.”
But the leases kept multiplying, and fighting them required resources that farmers didn’t have. Ironically, it was a squabble between rival sugar growers that shifted the balance of power from the plantations back to the people. In 1959, the year Hawai‘i became a state, two Kaua‘i sugar companies went to court over the water in Hanapepe River. The McBryde vs. Robinson case landed in the Hawai‘i State Supreme Court. Chief Justice William Richardson, a Native Hawaiian, ruled that neither company owned the water. It belonged to the state.
Drawing from language in the Great Māhele, Richardson determined that water wasn’t a commodity, but a public trust. By the time he issued that judgment, it was 1973. Hawaiian activists, inspired by the Civil Rights movement, had launched a cultural renaissance. The University of Hawai‘i had just established the state’s first law school (named for Richardson) and new lawyers were eager to defend their homeland. In this fertile/volatile environment, the kalo farmers of windward O‘ahu led a charge to reclaim their water.
Windward O‘ahu is bordered by the lush, green Ko‘olau Mountains that serve as the island’s most efficient water factory. In 1912, O‘ahu Sugar and its subsidiary, Waiahole Irrigation Company, drilled a tunnel through the mountains to collect water from the windward streams and deliver it to cane fields on the leeward side. Over the years, developers became increasingly dependent on this water, absorbing more and more until checked by two major suits.
First, in 1976, Charlie and Paul Reppun sued the Honolulu Board of Water Supply for draining Waihe‘e Stream. Seeking to increase the water available for its leeward clients, the Board had deprived downstream users. Waihe‘e Stream’s flow dropped from 4 million gallons a day to 2.3 million or less. As a result, the water in the Reppun brothers’ lo‘i turned stagnant and warm. Their kalo rotted.
The Reppuns qualified for pro-bono legal aid, while their neighbors who owned land didn’t. “That’s why Hawai‘i water law is decided by so few cases,” says Paul Reppun. “How can anyone afford it?” The Supreme Court sided with the Reppuns, though the case bounced between the courts and the Water Commission for over 20 years.
The closure of O‘ahu Sugar in 1993 initiated the next big case. The Reppuns and several other windward residents protested Waiahole Irrigation Company’s continued claim on the water. With sugar gone, what did it need the water for? “The name of the game in Central O‘ahu was not agriculture,” say Reppun. “It’s always been development. They were playing a holding game to keep their tax rate.”
The resulting Wai‘āhole Ditch Contested Case pitted a handful of community groups and kalo farmers against the state’s most powerful players: the Robinson Estate, Campbell Estate, Dole, Kamehameha Schools, the City of Honolulu, the Department of Agriculture—and even the U.S. Navy. “Everybody wanted that water,” says Reppun.
Despite the considerable odds, the high court favored the windward farmers. The landmark decision became a national example for how to apply public trust doctrine. “It was significant because for the first time we could argue for the environment,” says Reppun. “We brought in stream and estuary experts. One of our arguments was: it doesn’t matter if no one grows taro, stream water needs to go into the ocean.”
Historically, Kāne‘ohe Bay—the depository of the windward streams—was one of the most productive estuaries in the Pacific. It’s a critical nursery for juvenile fish such as moi, awa, pāpio and mullet. Experts convinced the judges that de-watering the streams not only hurts kalo farmers, but also aquifer recharge, the riparian ecosystem, and near-shore marine life. Sure enough, after stream flow was partially restored in 1995, aquatic life rebounded. “We thought it would take years for the ecosystem to recover,” says Reppun. “In one year we started seeing fish! It was amazing.”
Isaac Moriwake was a young law clerk during the Wai‘āhole case. Now a battle-tested attorney with Earthjustice, he represents Hōkūao Pellegrino and the Nā Wai ‘Eha plaintiffs. They’ve won significant rulings. In 2014, the Water Commission required Wailuku Water Company to restore a percentage of water to each of the Nā Wai ‘Eha streams. Farmers and Central Maui residents were ecstatic to see their waterways once again bubbling with life. But it didn’t come without a fight, and, after 12 years, it’s not over yet.
“It’s the toughest work I’ve ever done,” says Moriwake. “These cases go on for years. They’re super intense. But the rewards are also profound. These rivers are flowing for the first time in 150 years. You can see the water, swim in it. It’s not abstract.”
Moriwake has seen some egregious behavior during his tenure: several plantations have been caught dumping water that they claimed to need, rather than release it back to the streams. Collusion between the plantations and government regulatory agencies is rife and unapologetic. For example, Alexander & Baldwin executive Meredith Ching sat on the Water Commission. “Just having her there was a stain on the Board,” says Moriwake.
One of a few legally ambiguous issues Moriwake has had to deal with: sugar-plantations-turned-water-companies. When Wailuku Sugar shut down in the 1980s, it re-emerged as Wailuku Water Company. It uses the old plantation ditches to deliver surface water to several customers, including Maui County. In effect, Wailuku Water—which is not regulated as a public utility— is selling Maui County its own water. The situation with East Maui Irrigation is similar. A subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, it maintains 74 miles of ditches that supply water to both Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar and Maui County. With HC&S closing down, the fight over that water has begun in earnest. It’s Wai‘āhole all over again.
Sadly, even Supreme Court victories don’t guarantee success. In January 2016, the court invalidated A&B’s holdover permit to use East Maui water. The company immediately lobbied state legislators, who passed a bill in April reinstating the permit for another three years. The question remains for future lawmakers to answer: What role—if any—do these plantation water delivery companies have in Hawai‘i?
“The fight for water is never going to go away,” says Charlene Hoe. “It’s going to get worse.” That’s a weighty statement from a woman who has been wrestling with water issues for 40 years. In 1978, she helped craft Hawai‘i’s most recent constitution, which reaffirms water as a public trust. She and her husband Calvin own Wai‘āhole Poi Factory and were parties to the Wai‘āhole case. “The pressure for development will increase,” she says. “We need to teach our children to fight for the water.”
To that end, the Hoes opened Hakipu‘u Learning Center, a charter school tucked into a corner of the Windward Community College campus. Students grades 4-12 learn Hawaiian values alongside typical school subjects. They get muddy working in their own kalo lo‘i. The Hoes’ sons now run the Poi Factory, where they hand pound poi and serve authentic Hawaiian food to the masses. Calvin Hoe glows when recalling how his granddaughter Maile taught another girl how to pound poi. Regarding the future, he says, “There’s not only reason to feel optimistic, there’s cause for celebration.”
Eighteen years ago, kalo farmers from across Hawai‘i united as Onipa‘a Na Hui Kalo—an informal organization that jumpstarts new farms. “That group was a dream come true for me,” says Hoe. “We needed to work together.” Hui Kalo, as it’s called for short, selects a new site each year. Sponsored by the Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center, kalo growers fly inter-island to help a new farmer construct a lo‘i from start to finish in a single day. As many as 125 people gather to build and plant.
“It’s like an Amish barn-raising kind of thing,” says Paul Reppun. “Everybody who participates learns how to grow taro, how to work together. The synergy of things is so great, it’s valuable even if they don’t continue growing taro.”
Hui Kalo helped Hōkūao Pellegrino restore his first lo‘i. “When we planted that first huli in the ground,” he says, “that was a commitment, not just to Hāloa, Hawaiians, the culture, and the water—it reaffirmed my commitment to myself.” That single lo‘i turned into many. Pellegrino now runs Noho‘ana Farm, where he grows 55 varieties of kalo. He’s worked with over 10,000 students at his lo‘i, and plans to build a community center where people can get a hands-on history lesson.
Originally, like the Hoes and Reppuns, he just wanted to feed his family. Now he wants to be part of the paradigm shift that’s reconnecting people to the land—the ‘āina that nourishes them. Pellegrino says with a smile, “We have to re-kalo-nize their minds.”
Meanwhile, kalo farmers have to be as tenacious as ‘o‘opu climbing waterfalls. Pellegrino spent the past summer attending the ongoing Nā Wai ‘Ehā hearings. One by one, both farmers and developers rose, pledged to tell the truth, and presented their claims to the water. Water commissioner Lawrence Miike listened without expression. Like many of those testifying, he’s been doing this for decades. This is how the battle is fought: a tug of war enacted in oppressively stuffy rooms, attended by the few souls who can spare the workday hours and navigate the legalese. The kalo farmers have been doing the heavy lifting, but the issue of who controls Hawai‘i’s water affects us all.
When Pellegrino’s turn to speak comes, he holds up a bag of Noho‘ana poi. “This is what we do,” he says. “This is who we are.” In the back, his wife Alana rocks their infant daughter, Keāliapa‘aikeahou. She’s named after the place where Waikapū Stream meets the ocean—when it’s allowed to flow freely. It’s a hopeful name; it’s also a challenge.
½ cup unsalted roasted macadamia nuts, rough chopped (or peanuts)
¼ cup rough chopped cilantro
fried pork rinds, lightly crushed
Add all ingredients . Peel and grate green papaya and carrots. I use the grate wheel of my food processor for this. Put grated papaya and carrots into a colander to drain while you make the dressing.
Juice of 3 limes ( ¼ – 1/3 cup)
2 Tbs. fish sauce (I like Red Boat brand)
3 garlic cloves
1-2 red Thai chili, seeded (or to taste) **very spicy
2 Tbs. palm sugar (sub any granular sugar of choice)
15 mint leaves
1 kaffir lime leaf (optional)
In a food processor or high-speed blender (VitaMix), start with lime, sugar and garlic. Process until the garlic is finely ground and the sugar is dissolved.
Add the fish sauce, chili and mint leaves to the lime mixture and blend until well incorporated. Taste. You may need to make some adjustments while seeking a balance between sweet, salty, sour and spicy.
Transfer papaya and carrot from colander to large mixing bowl. Add the dressing and mix well. Finish with chopped macadamia nuts and fresh cilantro.
Top with a delicious crispy piggy pork rind crumble.
Farmer Cody taking a chance and growing a speciality crop
WRITTEN BY MARTA LANE PORTRAIT BY DAN LANE
Cody Meyer bends over a cluster of slender green tips that rise in four long rows. A view of Nounou, a mountain on the East Side of Kaua‘i, surrounds his large garden. He pulls a bulb of Purple Stripe garlic from the ground. Clumps of red dirt cling to a tangle of roots and stain his fingertips. The small bulb contains three cloves, one of which Cody peels and pops into his mouth.
“The taste is crisp, spicy and smoky,” he says and smiles wide. “The greatest reward to growing garlic has been the flavor and texture.”
Ron Miller, executive chef and owner of Hukilau Lanai, agrees. He and his staff conducted a blind taste test between Cody’s garlic, and garlic that was imported from California.
“It was unanimous,” says Miller. “We chose Cody’s garlic because it’s smooth, well rounded and it has spice, but not too much heat, and is balanced by a creamy background. It’s the most enjoyable raw garlic I’ve ever tried.”
Growing garlic in the tropics isn’t easy, however. Last year, Meyer stored imported seeds in a refrigerator for six weeks. In January, he, along with his daughter Rosa and wife Jessica, planted 3,200 seeds, which weighed about 40 pounds. He harvested them five months later, and the yield was a negligible 40 pounds.
The crop is difficult to grow for several reasons. Garlic needs 14 to 16 hours of daylight to form a good bulb. Hawai‘i’s summer solstice—the longest day of the year—is 13.5 hours. Typically, the climate doesn’t drop to temperatures of 45 – 50°F, which triggers hard neck varieties to sprout. In addition, garlic thrives in dry conditions.
“We don’t have much of that (dry conditions) on the euphemistically named ‘Green Side’ of Waimea,” says Paul Johnston of Kekela Farms on Hawai’‘i Island, “so we moved on to other things.”
Johnston and his partner, Betsy Sanderson, have grown green garlic for 10 years. Young shoots are harvested shortly after seeds are planted, but before a bulb sets. Slender stalks curl, which looks similar to green onions, and are flavorful additions to soups, sauces and mashed potatoes. Chef de Cuisine Chris Damskey of ‘Ulu Restaurant at Four Seasons Hualalai states, “I love the mellow, less spicy flavor profile of the green garlic. By serving it raw, the flavor is subtle but still has the freshness and flavor or regular garlic.”
Gerry Ross of Kupa‘a Farm on Maui knows that rain can turn an entire crop into mush. His biggest challenge is having dry weather for 10 days so garlic can be field-cured before harvest. He grows Elephant garlic, which is actually a bulging leek, on the Western Slope of Mount Haleakalā. Since individual cloves are so big—three fill the palm of a man’s hand—they are cured and sold individually.
“We tried many varieties of garlic and Elephant is the only one that bulbed and produced cloves,” says Ross. “On the Mainland it tastes mild, but on Maui, it is much more pungent and closer in flavor to true garlic.”
“I appreciate farmers who are willing to take a risk and try things that are not supposed to grow in the tropics,” says Miller. “In return they need the support of chefs, even if it’s expensive. Cody’s garlic would get lost in 25 gallons of stock that will be reduced to make demi-glace, so we use it as a garnish, or feature. John Tanner, one of our chefs, smoked garlic for a sauce to accompany fish, and he also made a killer garlic confit for a crust on fish.”
Meanwhile, Meyer plants his determination. As he cultivates plots at Rising Sun Farm, he imagines ancient and sustainable garlic crops.