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BRF tek is a fast method of growing your own mushrooms, with the whole process taking just two to three months.

By Matthew Roderick.

Book cover "Mushrooms," with photo of mushrooms.
Mushrooms: Cultivation, Nutritional Value, Medicinal Effect, and Environmental Impact (2004) by Philip G. Miles and Shu-Ting Chang is a good source for information on growing your own edible mushrooms.

Mushroom cultivation at home may be simpler than you think. As a hobby, for profit, or as a viable means for developing food security, growing mushrooms has become an increasingly popular practice for those who enjoy the healthy and flavorful benefits of mushrooms. These would be edible varieties such as shiitake, portobello, oyster, lions mane, and pioppino, to name just a few.

Mushrooms have been renowned for thousands of years for their therapeutic effects, medicinal nature, and highly nutritious quality. In addition to containing a good source of protein, many mushrooms, especially gourmet varieties, are shown to have antiviral, anticancer, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as immune strengthening and cardio protective  compounds.

To learn about the Philippines, one has to learn about its agriculture, a huge part of the Filipino culture.

Rodney Jubilado
Rodney Jubilado

The Filipino Studies Certificate program at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is perhaps the only Filipino studies program in the U.S. that integrates sustainable agriculture into its curriculum. Rodney Jubilado, assistant professor of Filipino and coordinator of the certificate program, stresses that in order to learn about the Philippines, one has to learn about its agriculture, which is a huge part of the Filipino culture.

“The focus here is the Philippines, which is an agricultural country” says Jubilado, whose family in the Philippines owns a farm that grows coffee, coconut and cacao.

Jubilado is a prolific writer and researcher and has shared his articles in numerous venues such as international conferences in various countries in Asia, Australia, and America. He is well published in international journals, edited academic journals, books, and manuscripts, supervised graduate and doctoral students, and is a member of professional organizations of his field and allied disciplines.

Farmers need to base their decisions on facts, rather than misleading or inaccurate information and activist dogma, for sustainable intensification of agriculture to achieve its potential.

By Bruce Mathews, Interim Dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Bruce Mathews
Bruce Mathews

There is presently a disconnect between the economic reality of Hawai‘i’s working farmers, educators, and the well-intentioned sustainability and food sovereignty idealism of governmental leaders, politicians, and community activists.

At most community agricultural meetings in Hawaiʻi, there are candid discussions regarding the growth and development constraints faced by the smallholder crop and livestock sectors. These discussions revolve around strong import competition from large continental-based operations, heavy dependence on imported energy and nutrient inputs for our farms, and a myriad of challenges associated with lease land, access to water and adequate infrastructure, labor constraints, lack of applied research and extension outreach, marketing, ability to comply with regulations, access to promising new cultivars, security, building equity, and sufficient financing.

Two Hawaiian language students create a video on beekeeping done entirely in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language).

Still from video of two student and bee hives.
Click image to view video on YouTube (no closed captions).

The Farm Laboratory of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, located in Pana‘ewa just south of Hilo, is home to about 50 beehives with the total number of bees at an estimated 500,000. The apiary is maintained by students and is used for hands-on learning of beekeeping from hive to market to table.

Mele Adams, a senior at UH Hilo, helps take care of the bees on the farm. She manages the bee hives when beekeeping labs aren’t in session and helps to manage the honey products as well.

“I had friends who took the course and told me about it,” says Adams, referring to the UH Hilo course on introductory beekeeping. “I was able to volunteer at the bee farm all summer and ended up getting a job at the bee farm, so I decided to take the course.” Entomology 262 is taught by Professor Lorna Tsutsumi, an entomologist and expert in beekeeping whose contributions to bee awareness in the state has brought her and the program recognition by the State Senate.

A move to Organic and Organic Plus strategies in food production is how Hawai‘i food producers take back the power of the Hawai‘i brand.

By Joshua Willing, Student, AG100, Introduction to Agricultural Sciences.

Rows of lettuce.
A field of certified organic lettuce grows at Robb Farms in Waimea, Hawai‘i Island. Photo courtesy of The Kohala Center.

Food production in Hawai‘i sits in the middle of a great paradox, at once a lush natural paradise with a perfect climate for growing things, yet isolated, leading to inflated costs for Hawaii’s producers. The future of the Hawai‘i food industry will depend on producers’ ability to navigate a way that respects these inherent costs while utilizing the many benefits of the islands. Producers must decide on a model that best suits the economy.

My argument here is that this model already exists, and by using branding–in this case the brand of Hawai‘i itself–we will mitigate many unavoidable costs while at the same time enhancing the desirability of Hawai‘i’s food products. This will rely heavily on the Hawai‘i food industry as a whole moving toward an “Organic Plus” strategy (going beyond current organic standards), the goals of which coincide nicely with the natural boons of Hawai‘i’s food production.

One of the advantages of studying tropical agriculture on the Big Island is the opportunity we have as students to see a diversity of farming methods, all of which play a role in the island economy and community.

By Michael Sthreshley, Senior, Agriculture.

Michael Sthreshley, background is lava flowing into ocean with steam rising.
Michael Sthreshley

Following the graduation of several key members, the Agriculture Club at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has had a few changes in leadership starting in the fall of 2014. Among the new officers are Michael Sthreshley as president, and Miguel Bravo Escobar as vice president. Lukas Kambic and Rachel Gorenflo continue as treasurer and secretary, respectively.

The “Ag” Club has been working to establish new relations with the UH Hilo Farm Laboratory faculty. In previous semesters the club has had limited involvement with the university farm. Since the club represents our College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management and aims to open up opportunities to students, we wish to learn more and gain further experience with agriculture and related topics utilizing college’s facilities.

Each semester, the class helps clean up a fruit and vegetable garden at the Malia Puka O Kalani Catholic Church in Keaukaha.

By Juan Avellaneda, Student, Agriculture.

Group of students gathered for photo.
Students in UH Hilo’s course on sustainable agriculture in fall 2014 gather for group photo. Click to enlarge.

Have you heard about the sustainable agriculture course (Ag230) at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo? This course offers community outreach, sustainable practices, and the experience of designing your very own sustainable garden. The course is taught by Norman Arancon, associate professor of horticulture. Students in the course are separated into groups and are assigned different areas on the UH Hilo campus, where they get to plant, grow, and harvest their own food.

This article will give you an insight on one of the field trips taken in the course last fall. In this community outreach field trip, the class helped clean up a fruit and vegetable garden at the Malia Puka O Kalani Catholic Church in Keaukaha.

Management options should be carefully considered since some treatments have the potential to be more damaging than the pests themselves.

By Noel Dickinson, BS in Agriculture, UH Hilo, 2014.

Vegetable Leafminer: Liriomyza sativae (Blanchard)

Adult vegetable leafminer, yellow bug on green foliage.
Adult vegetable leafminer, Liriomyza sativae (Blanchard). Photo by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

We’ve all seen them, white trails meandering across leaves in your  garden. Most of us know leafminers are the culprits, but what is a leafminer? When these trails are observed they are usually empty, as if they’ve been traced by some phantom pest.

In mid-September, I observed what I believed to be leafminer damage on the foliage of hydroponic tomato plants in the hydroponic greenhouse, at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Farm Laboratory in Panaewa. I came to the immediate conclusion that the damage was done by leafminers because of the conspicuous grey, serpentine lines on the leaves of the plants, a symptom specific to all leafminer species.