Students reps come from all 10 campuses of the UH System, and each will be coordinating local action projects on their home island. Alexis Stubbs represents UH Hilo.

Group of students in line for photo.
Representatives from each UH Campus with UH Chair of sustainability, Matt Lynch. (l-r) Matt Lynch (O‘ahu) , Elia Bruno (O‘ahu) , Alexis Stubbs (Hawai‘i Island), Jessica Sevilla (O‘ahu) , Keola Larson (Kaua‘i), and Josh Fukumoto (O‘ahu).

Last month held opportunity for a student sustainability representative from each University of Hawai‘i campus (10 campuses, six islands) to join and collaborate on student sustainability driven initiatives in preparation for the upcoming World Youth Congress (WYC) to be held in Hawai‘i this coming summer.

The UH Hilo representative is Alexis Stubbs, a sophomore specializing in tropical horticulture at the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management.

To prepare for next year’s congress, a three-day retreat was held Nov. 11-13 at Camp Pālehua in Kapolei, O‘ahu. The retreat was titled Aha Ho‘owaiwai (A Whole Community Approach to Wellness) and aimed to reflect the strength of coming together, sharing and caring as a community all in preparation of the Makahiki season. Community from the entire Hawaiian archipelago were present.

Mikey Peirron’s Hilo UrbFarm is a small composting and food garden operation, located at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center.

By Edward Bufil.

Mikey Pierron stands in garden.
Mikey Pierron gives a tour of Hilo UrbFarm to Ag 24 students.
Garden with raised beds, flats, area covered overhead with tarp.
Hilo UrbFarm, a small composting and food garden operation, is located at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center.

Looking at a package of basil from Maui, a revelation hit Mikey Pierron: why is Hawai‘i island not food sustainable? This revelation gave rise to Hilo UrbFarm, a small composting and food garden operation, located at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center.

Composting is a key practice in island sustainability. Hilo UrbFarm develops compost from paper wastes, mulch (from the County Greenwaste facility), and food scraps from local vendors including the Locavore store, Conscious Culture Café, Hilo Sharks Coffee, and Loved by the Sun. By taking greenwaste that would otherwise be added to the near-capacity landfill, Hilo UrbFarm produces compost that will aid the growth of a variety of food crops.

Hilo UrbFarm also grows a variety of herbs and food crops.

Though Aceria hibisci can feed on a wide variety of hibiscus plants, it seems to demonstrate a preference for the Chinese red hibiscus (Hibiscus rosasinensis L.)

By Damon Adamson.

Hibiscus Leaf-Crumbling Mite under microscope and lumpy leaves disfigured from invasion.
Leaf damage (left) and Hibiscus Leaf-Crumbling Mite.

Often going unnoticed until the telltale bump-like clusters form on hibiscus leaves, the Hibiscus Leaf-Crumbling Mite or Aceria hibisci, is small enough to escape most human visibility. The unsightly growth or galls are the results of feeding Aceria hibisci, otherwise known in Hawai’i as the Hibiscus Erineum Mite or just the Hibiscus Mite.

First identified in Hawai’i in 1989 on the island of Oahu. Now the microscopic mite can be found on most of the Hawaiian islands and other Pacific areas, like Fiji, the Cook Islands, New South Wales, Australia in 1992, and Brazil.

In order to be competitive one needs to be farming at an economy of scale and price point differentials that work, particularly when the competition is imported from continent based mega-farms.

By Bruce Mathews.

Bruce Mathews
Bruce Mathews

While there have been calls for at least 50 years for the state of Hawaiʻi to improve its food self-sufficiency and hence food security, the progress to reduce dependence on imports has been painfully slow. This being said, community interest in increasing locally grown food is rapidly expanding. However, interest alone will not be sufficient to turn the dial substantially without major changes in consumer behavior or extreme market distortions.

Economies of scale

In order to be competitive one needs to be farming at an economy of scale and price point differentials that work, particularly when the competition is imported from continent based mega-farms. Even in Hawaiʻi the entrepreneurial produce farmer success stories that are most often mentioned tend to be on the larger side. It takes a unique mix of entrepreneurial skills, hard work, and capital access to make a decent middle class living let alone a small fortune as a family farmer. Locally grown produce may become more competitive as continental growers deal with increasing water costs and climate change.

We spent time this summer in China collecting and testing soil samples for a study about the long-term effects that warming and nitrogen addition would have on microbial composition and enzyme production.

By Erin Busch and Tim Zimmerman.

At the Sanming Forest Ecosystem and Global Change Research Station in Fujian, China, scientists and researchers from various fields gather to utilize experimental plots designed as mesocosm studies and in-field sampling and monitoring stations to study forest hydrological change, forest carbon management, and future global change.

The agreement supports cooperative research activities and the exchange of researchers and students.

By Christoher Lu.

Upon invitation, I visited the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine at Guizhou Academy of Agricultural Sciences during the summer of 2016. I presented an invited paper entitled “Overview of Global Meat Goat Industry.”

There are approximately one billion goats in the world, mostly for meat purposes. The top ten countries with the largest goat populations are China, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Iran, and Mali. There are about three million goats in the United States with a continued increasing trend since 1980s.

William H. Purvis, the young manager of the Pacific Sugar Mill at Kukuihaele on Hawaiʻi Island, planted the first mac nuts in 1882 at Kapulena.

By Damon Adamson.

Rows of trees in mac nut orchard.
Macadamia Nut Orchard (Macadamia integrifolia) ssp. Makai 800. Photo by Damon Adamson, click to enlarge.

Hailing from southern Queensland and northern New South Wales on the continent of Australia and belonging to the Proteaceae family, the macadamia nut (Macadamia integrifolia) was first imported into Hawaiʻi in 1882 by William H. Purvis. Purvis, the young manager of the Pacific Sugar Mill at Kukuihaele on the Big Island, planted seeds that year at Kapulena.

The threat of Tropical Nut Borer in Hawai‘i creates a significant threshold on macadamia nut production and proceeds.

By Damon Adamson.

Tropical Nut Borer and damaged nut
Tropical Nut Borer and damaged nut

The Tropical Nut Borer (TNB), Hypothenemus obscurus (Coleoptera: Scolytidae), was first identified in Hawai‘i—North Kona specifically—in 1988, with consequential studies conducted in the early 1990s. Initial studies determined TNB only affected Western Hawai‘i Island and with no other reports from Maui, O‘ahu, or Kaua‘i.

But within just a few years, TNB was found on all islands throughout the state, creating a significant threshold on macadamia nut production and proceeds. University of Hawai‘i studies conducted in the 1990s suggest a larger impact on orchards within dryer climates versus consistently wetter areas.

Arizona State University is a potential partner for UH Hilo in developing energy science curriculum.

By Philippe Binder, Professor of Physics.

Philippe Binder
Philippe Binder

“Sustainability” is a property of social and biological systems that can remain active and functioning for long periods of time without depleting their resources or causing damage to their surroundings.

This concept has become more widely recognized in recent times. A big landmark was The Limits to Growth, a report on simulations of global population, environment and resources from the early 1970s showing a serious collapse of human population and standard of living, unless measures like a reduction in fertility rate and better care of the environment were adopted.

In the late 1980s, Our Common Future (also known as the Brundtland Report, produced by the United Nations) discussed development and environment as closely related issues, and presented a blueprint for sustainable development.