Monday, November 7, 2011

Growth Has an Expiration Date

Growth Has an Expiration Date

Check out this lecture by Tom Murphy, physics professor at UCSD.  He outlines the mathematical reasons why our economy based on continual growth must end.  It is filled with insights and well worth the 23 minute investment.

This is a must see for anyone who talks about sustainability.  It should be seen by every voter and every politician. Understanding these concepts are essential to constructing our planetary future.

Our future is now.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Drake thanking volunteers
My son Drake organized a positive protest this past Sunday evening October 30th.  Rather than be "against" anything, he is protesting by planting food in public spaces.

Jennifer and Julie planting taro

Over 40 persons showed up in Downtown Hilo to plant taro and other edible plants in the median strips on Kamehameha Avenue.  What had been weeds and roundup became wonderful edible landscapes in just two hours.  The vibe was so positive and the intention will reverberate and hopefully spread across the globe.

Transformation in Progress

This is all done using Natural Farming techniques.  Several weeks ago Drake and a few of his friends sprinkled IMO (indigenous micro organisms) in the areas to be planted. Folks showed up with plants, mulch, watering cans, more IMO's and intention to make Hawaii sustainable.

Each of us on the Island can plant food.  It will make us free from dependence.
Be the solution!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Love Living in Hilo

Hilo town
Each weekday morning when I drive to work I pass by beautiful Hilo Bay.  On a clear day this past winter I took this photograph of snow capped Mauna Kea (13,796 ft.) from bay front.  Tonight was another clear evening that inspired me to write this post and to be grateful that I am so blessed to live here.  I passed paddlers in the bay and surfers at Alai Point.  On my return from town I witnessed a parade of color in the sky over the observatories atop Mauna Kea.  As I write this the colors are still changing from reds and purples into the night sky.  Going up to the upper garden to take a sunset shot over Mauna Kea, I was greeted by an Owl.  Too cool.

Backyard sunset tonight over Mauna Kea
I was reluctant to write this as I do not want to encourage anyone to move here.  One of the best things about living here is the uncrowded spaces.  You won't like that you are miles away and mega dollars away from your family.  You won't like that there is NOTHING to do on a Saturday night or that there are NO restaurants, and NO shopping beyond Wal-Mart.  Trust me, you don't want to move here.

But for me, who loves to stay home, loves clean air, lot's of space, doesn't mind 180 inches of rain per year, it is heaven.  I love the cultural diversity.  No body here thinks like me, looks like me or even relates to me.  Amen.  I love looking at miles of blue blue ocean.  I love the green fields.  I love that on a calm clear evening I can take off from my front lawn in my paraglider and take in the views, leaving everything and everybody below, to soak in the beauty of this paradise.

Afternoon flight above Onomea Bay
Lastly as I was about to post this, my daughter Kaitlin called me to look out from the front yard.  Puu'oo volcano is aglow, spewing lava visible from our yard.  Oh yeah, I love living in Hilo.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chop and Drop

I want to share an effective gardening technique.  Chop and drop.  I am refurbishing older gardens.  Today I removed the remaining plants from a few gardens that had run their course and I did NOT till, just weeded.  Then I topped with IMO #4 and bio char.  On top of that I took whole branches of gliricida and covered the IMO beds.  Master Cho says IMO love 60% shade.  He also wants us to emulate nature by providing inputs on the soil surface as nature would do rather than till in nutrients as man has done in modern times.  Putting whole branches provides shade but also plenty of oxygen (because of the physical space) for the aerobic microbes to grow.  In a few weeks the leaves will dry and fall off the branches providing additional organic matter.  The woody branches will break down by the action of the aerobic microbes.  While I wait for seedlings to be ready to transplant, this technique allows me to be patient.  The microbes are at work in the garden bed.  When I do transplant seedlings, they will rocket because the soil is alive.

Plant in foreground has been pruned, the bushier Gliricidia behind needs to be pruned.

Originally I dedicated a row in my garden to gliricida.  Within that row I also have some papaya as well as pineapple plants.  The idea is that the gliricida are nitrogen fixing plants, and I would use their branches and leaves as mulching material.  I don't have to transport far, just a few feet, chop and drop.

New pond for Azolla production.

I made a pond this weekend to propagate azolla.  It is a water plant that can double in volume in a single day.  Pigs will eat it, as it is high in protein. Wikipedia reports, in addition to its traditional cultivation as a bio-fertilizer for wetland paddy (due to its ability to fix nitrogen), azolla is finding increasing use for sustainable production of livestock feed Azolla is rich in proteins, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Studies describe feeding azolla to dairy cattle, pigs, ducks, and chickens, with reported increases in milk production, weight of broiler chickens and egg production of layers, as compared to conventional feed. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Post experiment thoughts

I have been following Andrea Dean's blog ( ) who is doing a very interesting experiment herself.  She is trying to eat food grown locally on a Food Stamp budget for a month.  I think it's about day 9 now and she is half way through her monthly budget.

It has brought up some interesting conundrums.  Isn't the goal to get folks OFF food stamps and be self-supporting with regards to food? Comments welcome.

Of course it took me years of hard work and dues paying to be able to own land to grow my own food supply.  So how do we get people who don't own land to be able to grow their own food?  Comments welcome.

Why do people purchase their food supply from Costco (you name the store) verses growing their own or buying locally produced food?  I have a few ideas.  After growing and preparing our own food for a month my wife will tell you it is a lot more work and takes a lot more time to prepare your own food.  So the convenience of store bought food is a big factor.  Eating and preparing your own food isn't for the lazy folks, which eliminates most of us.

Price is another big reason.  Local farmers cannot make a decent living selling raw agricultural products because they are competing against cheap industrial agriculture subsidized by cheap oil.  It is cheaper to grow food in a foreign country using oil based inputs and pay the transportation costs than to grow food in Hawaii.   Someone commented on Andrea's blog that foreign mangos are cheaper in the mainland than Hawaii grown mangos are in Hawaii.  Think about that.  Ask yourself why.

Variety is another factor.  Canoe crops grow easily here but people don't eat Taro.  When was the last time you at taro/poi?  Today, Last Week, Last Month, Last Year, or I can't remember????

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jennifers Reflective Thoughts's time for me to pipe up again.'s hard to believe four weeks have passed...time IS speeding up. 

Recap- I was so psyched to do this in the beginning and enjoyed the process most of the time. I definitely had some cravings and sometimes was really sick of washing the harvest and preparing our meals day after day- I like to eat out a couple of times a week so this was a withdrawal for me. I so enjoyed perusing the gardens and seeing what was ready, what we could create. I enjoyed my time with Eric, cooking and caring for the garden. I can spend much more time than I do now in the garden...maybe when I make that commitment I will lean to an even more appreciative attitude. I found myself feeling so much gratitude to the plants for providing SO much. And SO much gratitude to Eric for keeping it all together. He is amazing..many people when they see our gardens ask if we have help. No siree...we have Eric with tremendous energy, a more than positive attitude and a heart full of love for his garden and providing for his family. A beautiful man, a gentle man. Today I told him he was a 'gentle man' farmer.

It is HUGE to know that we can do this. We have learned to be more creative with 'whatever we got' and to inJOY the results. We have vowed to eat more from the garden into the future, and are letting ourselves use coconut milk and mushrooms, and whatever else from the market can make a meal just right. We have a solid garden basis now and will continue to create and inJOY. Life is full, blessed and GOOD. 


Our Month is Complete - Just the Beginning!

Well Jennifer and I just completed 4 weeks of "Eating What We Grow".  We DID IT!

Preparing Apple Bananas for the Dehydrator
However, it is just the beginning of our journey into self-sufficiency.  Now that we know we can feed ourselves, we are free to explore the subtleties what to produce and fine tune how to make fabulous meals right from our land.

Fresh OJ, White Pineapple, Purple Sweet Potato and Squash

Eggs with salsa, and Purple Sweet Potato Hash Browns
For those who think this is impossible, or that this can only be done in Hawaii, or you don't have enough land.... check out this video where one family is totally self-sufficient on one fifth of an acre in Pasadena.  No excuses.  It is simply a matter of deciding to do it.

One of the best things about eating from your gardens is the freshness of the food.  Korean Natural Farming produces the most nutritious food, filled with vitamins and minerals.  Dr. Park always says that to get the same amount of nutrition as an apple grown the old fashion way before modern fertilization practices, you'd have to eat 40 of todays apples.  So eating this way is the most healthy way to eat.  No need to have government inspectors looking out for your safety or to worry about what went into your food, anti-biotics, preservatives, hormones, fungicides, pesticides... whatever.

Baked Pumpkin Squash and French Green Beans

Not only is it healthy, it's FREE.  Thats right my grocery bill for August was ZERO, nada, nothing, zip.  And I spent nothing on fertilizer too as all Korean Natural inputs are found right on your land.

Honey likes Bananas too
Even my dog likes it.  No store bought dog food for her.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day Twenty-Seven

Salad and Chicken Soup
I love the weekend when I can just hang at home.  Today was a spectacularly beautiful day, blue skies, some billowy clouds, lush green fields, deep blue calm ocean.  Drake visited today and about 5:00 I drove him home.  Right when were entering Hilo a rainbow graced the harbor.  Half circle to start, then turning full and by the time we reached Drakes house it was a brilliant double rainbow.  Lucky we live Hawaii.

This morning I harvested an older hen and made Chicken Stock with my new slow cook electric crock pot.  It was the first time using the crock pot and it worked very well.  We are off the grid and get our electricity free from the river so I was pleased that the crock slow cooked all day and didn't take much power.  Even though the hen was older the slow cook process made the meat very tender.   I added pumpkin squash and beet leaves to about a third of the stock to make tonights dinner.  I poured off most of the liquid to have Chicken Stock for future soups.  I kept most of the meat and vegetables in a separate container for a undetermined creation for tomorrow night.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day Twenty-Six

Eric from his computer
We're almost at the finish line.  So thinking about what I've learned.

My original goal was to see if we could feed ourselves.  Secondly, I wanted to know what we needed more or less of to make our diet wonderful.  Thirdly, I wanted to see what effect it would have on us both physically and psychologically.

As to the first goal, we succeeded way better than I thought we would before we started.  We had a wide variety of foods to choose from and our meals were varied for the most part.  We have enough planted to feed our family and more.

We have the right amount of bananas and papaya and other fruits planted.  We enjoyed that it was pineapple season and having oranges, lemons, and limes is nice.  One key for someone else trying to do this is to have sugar cane.  It blends with every other fruit, and satisfies any craving for sweets.  Plus sugar cane is loaded with vitamins and minerals.  I have too much taro.  It goes a long way.  However, if all else fails, taro is a dependable staple that fills you up and provides most dietary needs.

I purchased two macadamia nut trees and another lime from my sister's nursery and planted those this evening.

The key to having greens and lettuce is to plant a little bit each month.  I will consolidate my greens and vegetable gardens in the future, planting closer and more intensely.

The physical effect was that I lost 10 pounds.  I feel much better in that I feel lighter and more energetic.  I used to huff and puff toting my fat ass up the hill to the upper garden.  Now I skip up the hill.  That, my friends, is a BIG deal.  At 58 years old, to walk up hills effortlessly is NICE.

Psychologically I did pretty well.  I had a few cravings in the first weeks, but it was overshadowed by my determination to see this experiment through.  I am torn because I miss some of the old foods, but feel so good I don't want to return to the unhealthful habits.  I hope I can strike a good balance in the weeks and months to come.

Day Twenty-Five

New bed topped with IMO#4 and chest high taro
Another great day in paradise.  Jennifer and I had a tasty fruit smoothie for breakfast to start our day.  Then off to work, poi and hard boiled eggs for lunch.  Some fresh white pineapple for snacks.

Next years pineapple crop using weed mat

I finished putting IMO#4 on the garden bed I prepared yesterday then topped it off with lawn clippings to protect the IMO from direct sunlight that would be harmful to the microbes.   Look at the health of the taro plants in the bed next to this new one, they are chest high.  The cassava plants are thriving.   I was able to sneak in a flight on my paraglider before dark on a perfectly calm evening in Onomea.  Life is sweet!

New sugar cane with cassava

Dinner was a salad, cassava with pesto, and taro chips with guacamole.

cassava hash browns
taro chips, salad, salsa, guacamole

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Twenty-Four Days

Heading towards the final stretch.  Started the day with a fruit bowl and some home made yogurt from our neighbors raw milk.  Very wonderful! Then off to work.

Jennifer making fruit bowl and yogurt breakfast
When home I was able to prepare about a 200 foot long by 4 feet wide garden bed.  It has never been planted before but had been spaded about a year ago.  I added bio-char, dolomite lime (calcium and magnesium), horse manure, some wood shaving that had been inoculated with IMOs.  Then I tilled that in and shoveled and raked the bed into a uniform and even garden bed.  Tomorrow I'll add a thin layer of IMO #4 to the top surface and cover lightly with grass clipping.  I'll use this bed to transplant the small taro plants that surround the big corms when I harvest them.  I did the same preparation to the two rows that are next to the one I prepared today and they are thriving with cassava, sugar cane, sweet potato and taro.

new tomato plants in greenhouse
lettuce and purslane in greenhouse
These pictures are from two of my four greenhouse.  One has new tomato plants starting to be trained up on bobbins.  There are thirty two tomato plants and each week I trim off all suckers except the growing tip and clip to the bobbin.  This method produces 4 tomatoes per plant every ten days and will keep producing for months.  I am just now abandoning my other tomato greenhouse as those tomatoes have been producing since about February and are now a bit tired.  The picture on the right is young little manoa green lettuce and purslane a very nutritious addition to salads.  Google it.

For dinner Jennifer and I enjoyed sauteed french green beans, sugar cane juice with a half a lime, and a fresh green garden salad.

cane juice, french green beans, and garden salad

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day Twenty-Three

They say it takes twenty-one days to develop new habits and leave old ones behind.  Although Jennifer is really ready for this to end, I am not.  She misses her chocolate and lunches out.    I think she is hungry a lot more than I am because she has not really embraced the diet from our gardens. However, she eats very healthy any way.  Me on the other hand had lots of bad habits, coffee and alcohol to name just two.  After three weeks I really feel good, much much better than I did three weeks ago.  And beyond that I like my new foods.

Tonight I cracked macadamia nuts so that Jennifer could make pesto also using our fresh basil and lemons. We had it over cassava hash browns.  (we grated the cassava in her food processor - effortless)  We also had fried eggs with home made salsa and some avocado.  Delicious!

cracking macadamia nuts for pesto
I need to get more creative using my taro.  To this end I used our champion juicer to make poi - which I will have for lunch tomorrow.  We have so much taro in our gardens.  The Hawaiians basically lived off the taro plant.  It is incredibly nutritious and easy to grow.   I've been having it for lunch most days and it does a good job of getting rid of any hungry feeling I get about mid-day.

taro before becoming poi

Abundance - Day Twenty-Two

These photos were all taken this evening.  Jennifer had the agricultural industrial kitchen thing going after an evening harvest.  Fruits, vegies, greens, reds, roots.  Plenty to eat, it is a matter of changing our diet to "Eat What We Grow."

pineapple, kale, tangelo, lime and sugar cane juice

Beets, tomatoes, beet tops

French green beans and beet tops

Cassava over Purple Sweet Potato

Tomato, avocado, orange, lime, lilikoi, pineapple, ginger, turmeric

Apple banana


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Three Weeks and Feeling Great

We reached the three week mark today.  I spent the entire weekend on the property gardening and just loved it.  No need to leave, no need to go to the store.

It rained all Sunday (great gardening weather) so in the afternoon Jennifer and I felt like watching a movie. But you can't go to the movies without a snack, so we got creative and made taro chips.  Jennifer has a mandoline which is a device to slice very thin and uniformly.  It worked great on previously steamed taro to make ultra thin slices which we then fried in coconut oil.  We added a little sea salt and voila, home made taro chips.

Taro Chips
For lunch and dinner we had pumpkin squash soup.  We steamed the squash then put them into the vitamix blender with home made yogurt and sugar cane juice.  As Jennifer remarked, " very savory".

Pumpkin Squash Soup

We have plenty of food.  So we are not about to starve.  The biggest change is the change in our diet.  If Hawaii is to become self sufficient in it's food production it is not enough to grow our own food, we must "eat what we grow."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Terrific Twenty

Today is Saturday and I had so much energy I couldn't believe it.  I had a larger than normal breakfast and then headed out to garden for the day.  I didn't even feel the need to stop for lunch.  Normally I can only work for a couple of hours before needing to rest for a bit.  But that wasn't the case today.  Wow.  I just kept going.  It has been about three weeks and I am ten pounds lighter.  I just don't feel lethargic or old like I used to.  It is amazing.

Breakfast, eggs, taro and tangelo juice
For breakfast Jennifer and I had fried eggs with pesto and taro slices fried in gee with fresh tangelo juice.  It was a new way to prepare taro and I really enjoyed it.

Jennifer was having yoga friends over today, so we pressed 2 gallons of juice out of just three cane stalks.  It is amazing how much juice comes out.

I redid a long garden bed this morning.  First I pulled out all the taro plants cutting two thirds of the corm off and all the leaves except one.  I planted these in another previously prepared garden.  After weeding I filled a cart with bio-char, IMO wood shavings, horse manure, Dolomite (calcium and magnesium).  I dug this mixture into the long bed, raked the bed smooth and put a thin coat of IMO #4 on top.  I like to have prepared beds ready to accept transplants when they are ready.

I mowed about a third of my extensive lawn.  Then I  sprayed Cho's flowering mixture on all my plants including all the fruit trees.  I have a new toy, a real tractor and it has a 50 gallon sprayer driven by the PTO.  Yesterday I brewed a compost tea from IMO #4.  I added worm juice (from our worm farms), fermented plant juice, oriental herbal nutrient, brown rice vinegar,  water soluble calcium (made from egg shells), water soluble calcium phosphate (made from bones), fermented fish acid, and sea water.  My new sprayer worked great and made it easy to spray my plants,  The cool thing about spraying with Cho's home made ingredient is if the mist blows on me, it is fine because you can drink each and every ingredient.  I took the remainder of the spray solution and soaked it into the garden I prepared.  This will activate that garden and is recommended.

pumpkin squash
After a wonderful afternoon flight I transplanted lettuce and beans into a bed in the upper garden.  Coming back to the house I stomped around the weeds where we have some pumpkin squash planted and discovered about six perfectly ready squash.  What a nice surprise as it will make a fantastic soup.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day Nineteen

Another great day.  Hawaii is such a fantastic place on Earth.  Jennifer and I are blessed to be here and enjoy it's abundance and to steward the land.  The Hawaiian society was totally sustainable before Captain Cook arrived.

Today's world is so confused.  It seems our society is breaking apart and the divide among us is so great.  So it is up to me to honor my fellow human, who ever they may be.  It is up to me NOT to marginalize anyone or any group.  There was no word for "right" in the Hawaiian language, only "kuleana" the word for responsibility.

Day Eighteen

Bertha is pregnant
Ho hum just another day Eating What We Grow.  Getting very routine.  I've been eating an almost vegetarian diet and I must say I feel very good.  However, a little steak or pork might be welcome once in a while.  Both of my two cows are pregnant so hoping to double my herd soon.

Today's menu: Fresh fruit smoothies in the morning, a couple of hard boiled eggs mid morning, sweet potatoes for lunch and big green salad for dinner, with a lime sugar cane pre-dinner cocktail.  Somewhere I had a glass of guava juice and some dried pineapple slices and dried bananas.

I fed the chickens before I went to work, worked at my job all day, and in the late afternoon went paragliding from my front lawn for a half hour (perfect conditions), then worked until almost sunset taking the wainaku grass out of a garden bed I am reconditioning.  Looking forward to the weekend so I can spend more time in my gardens.

I made a down payment on a 72' by 32' greenhouse structure today.  Thinking about getting a couple of pigs. (I love bacon)  Master Cho has a way to raise pigs without any foul odors.  We visited Mike and Liz Hubbel yesterday and their pig pen has absolutely no foul smells.  The pigs live in a deep litter system with microbes that eat the poop.  Amazing but true.

Mama pig and baby piglets 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day Seventeen

French Green Beans
While harvesting for dinner with Jennifer last night it occurred to me that I haven't shown any pictures of our gardens.  So tonight I'll show a few.

Black Eye Beans
These beans grow very easily but are a little hard to get out of their shells.  They have provided several meals this month.
Sweet Potatoes in front of Taro
Sweet Potatoes are easy to grow and do not require much nutrition.  They grow by planting about 8 inches of the vine leaving just two or three leaves above the soil.  Taro also grows very easily.  A single corm puts out 8 or more keikis for future planting while the main corm provide several pounds of nutritious food.

Sugar Cane
Sugar Cane grows easily and fast.  Just putting an 18 inch stalk into the ground quickly sends up many canes.  In 12 to 18 months this clump of canes are ready to harvest.  Each cane stalks provides close to a gallon of juice.  It is a great drink and is very nutritious and jam packed with vitamins and minerals.

Basil and Swiss Chard

Basil grows so well.  Its flowers attracts bees which we hear are in trouble here in Hawaii and around the globe.  It makes wonderful pesto.  We use swiss chard for stir fry along with sweet potato vine tips and beet tops.

We grow all of these wonderful foods with NO STORE BOUGHT FERTILIZER.  That's right, we propogate microbes to do natures work.  They break down the organic material and soil minerals and work with the plants roots to feed the plant.  This week while harvesting, I was blown away by finding large colonies of white mold on the plant roots.  These colonies are microscopic microbes in such huge numbers that they are visible.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day Sixteen

Aerial View

It was a calm afternoon, although a bit cloudy.  But still nice enough to take off from my front yard in my motorized paraglider and take a few aerial photos.  Our vegetables are grown in 4 of the 6 hoop houses and in the garden space located above our house which is fenced off from the wild pigs.  Although we have lots of space on our property, the gardens take up very little land area.
House, gardens, hoop-houses and Hanawai River

I got up early today and made some fresh sugar cane juice for our banana pineapple smoothies.  Jennifer had a taro burger for lunch and I finished off the chicken bean soup I made over the weekend.

Freshly harvested beets

Jennifer and I harvested beets, green beans and lettuce for dinner.  Those beets are the size of soft balls.  We also cleaned the beet tops and put them in the fridge for stir fry tomorrow night.

Before preparing dinner and while enjoying our lime sugar cane juice cocktail, Jennifer and I were reflecting on how blessed we are.  We know we can provide our own food as everything we've been eating for the last two weeks I grew.  This is no longer a fantasy.  When people hear what we are doing, they say it is "so cool."  But I know that most of them have some excuse to carry on as they always have and deep down believe they could never do this.  As I said in my very first post in this blog on Jan 1, 2011, this blog is for me.  It is about me finding independence and the power of self reliance, not what others do or don't do.  I am trying to "be the change I want to see."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day Fifteen

Diner, fried eggs with pesto and sauteed beet tops
Aloha! Jennifer here...

After two weeks (and I might add the halfway mark) I'm ready to make some comments. I have learned alot about what it means to 'eat what you grow'- the challenges 
and the positive effects. So I'll mention some of the hurdles. 

I'm amazed at how much time is consumed in consuming from the garden. There is the discussion about the menu, the harvesting, the cleaning (and I am a fanatic about that), the prep, actual cooking and cleaning up afterwards. For example, fresh guava juice is mighty ono yet it takes about an hour to make because you have to walk to the end of the long driveway, pick the fruit, wash it, cut it in the right size pieces and process it in the Champion. Then you have to pick the sugarcane, machete it into the right size pieces and process it. Well that keeps us occupied until it is time to prepare whatever else will grace our plates. Please don't take this as is a simple fact. I don't mind because I HAVE the time and the time is happily spent with Eric. So there are some logistic challenges. 

Another challenge is purely emotional...I MISS MY CHOCOLATE. I do have a periodic habit and the withdrawals have made it so apparent. As a matter of fact, in the first week, I would eat a hearty ono meal and be 'looking' for more. My body was 'looking' for sugar! I have a new understanding for obesity, and even how those unwanted libbies can sneak up on you. 

On the bright note, I am loving doing this with Eric. I have never done it before although I've done half a dozen fasts. We are supporting each other, creating together and finding another way to spend quality time (which I treasure). 

I highly recommend this to each and every one of you. It is an experiment, a change, an opportunity to know yourself more. And it is delicious and seriously healthy to boot.