Farm to market: UH Hilo ag students hold sale featuring plants and honey from university’s farm

The plants at the sale event were grown by students at the college’s farm just south of Hilo in Panaʻewa; the honey was harvested from the farm’s apiary.

Group of students stand for photo with Professor Arancon. Palms are in the background. potted plants are to the left.
Students and faculty from UH Hilo’s agricultural program held a plant and honey sale March 27, 2024. Above, Professor of Horticulture Norman Arancon, center, stands with agricultural students at the sale. From left, Tai Salinger, Meredith Crawford, Prof. Arancon, Alesha Veach, Meagan Garlutzo, Theola Kumanga, and Cashea Ahnee Green. (Courtesy photo)

By Emily Thornton.

Students and faculty from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s agricultural program held a plant and honey sale last week. The event took place on campus in the breezeway at the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management.

Students and other members of the university community showed up to the event for the small and large plants, fruit cuttings, vegetable cuttings, and seedlings. There was also various fruits, vegetables, and honey products.

The plants at this event were grown at the college’s farm just south of Hilo in Panaʻewa; the honey was harvested from the farm’s apiary. The plants were grown by students in a class on sustainable agriculture (AG 230) taught by Professor of Horticulture Norman Arancon, and the honey tended and harvested by students from Professor of Entomology Lorna Tsutsumi’s beekeeping classes (ENTO 262 and 350).

The sale event was to showcase and promote healthy agriculture and provide learning opportunities for students.

Showcasing sustainable agriculture

Arancon, who is internationally recognized for his pioneering research in soil ecology and currently serves as director of the college, is originally from the Philippines and joined UH Hilo faculty at the ag college in 2008. He went to school in the Philippines for his bachelor’s degree, moved on to do a year of graduate school in Australia, and then finished his graduate and doctoral degrees in environmental sciences at Ohio State University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar from 1997 to 2000.

UH Hilo Professor of Horticulture Norman Arancon at the plant sale held on campus March 27, 2024. His students grew out the plants available for purchase at the event. (Emily Thornton/UH Hilo Stories)

Known for his interactive teaching methods, Arancon instills in his students practical knowledge about farming soils and environments.

“They learn how to grow plants, how to propagate them not just by seed but vegetatively, like grafting,” says Arancon about his sustainable agriculture class. “It’s a farm-to-market kind of concept.”

Communications major Cashea Ahnee-Green was at the event. She is a student of Professor Arancon and helped at the plant sale which provides a hands-on experience bringing ag products to market.

“Being a part of this agriculture class I learned a lot [about the] environment,” says Ahnee-Green. “I also learned more about the pesticides that we put into our food and the saying ‘you are what you eat.'”

About the importance of the sale event, Ahnee-Green says, “I think it’s just the awareness of knowing where your food comes from and supporting organically produced food.”

Cashea Ahnee-Green pictured in a baseball cap with palm in background.
UH Hilo communications major Cashea Ahnee-Green, who is learning about sustainable agricultural methods in a course with Professor of Horticulture Norman Arancon, at the recent sale event held March 27, 2024, featuring plants grown and honey harvested by students at the university’s farm. (Emily Thornton/UH Hilo Stories)

Beekeeping and honey

Tsutsumi’s students harvested honey for the plant sale. “There are two beekeeping courses that are offered in the fall and the spring that teach students about the basics and fundamentals of beekeeping,” she says.

Tsutsumi is an entomologist who specializes in beekeeping and got her formal education in the UH system.

The beekeeping labs are taught at UH Hilo’s farm so students get hands-on training on how to work with the bees. The courses are part of the beekeeping certificate program.

Prof. Tsutsumi holds up a honey comb dripping with honey and covered in bees.
Professor of Entomology Lorna Tsutsumi at UH Hilo’s apiary. (Archive photo/College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management/UH Hilo)

Attached to the beekeeping apiary at the farm is a program called Adopt-a-Beehive with Alan Wong. Students interact with members of the local community who adopt hives and learn about beekeeping virtually through the students.

“Bees are an important part of food sustainability as a large portion of foods that we consume are pollinated by honey bees,” says Tsutsumi. “Without honey bees you don’t get the same variety and same types of food.”

Professor Tsutsumi says the beekeeping program at UH Hilo is an important part of developing local sustainability.

Learn more!

The college offers many different agricultural classes, certificates, and degrees. For more information, visit the college’s website.

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Story by Emily Thornton, an English major at UH Hilo.

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