Friday, October 28, 2011

Followup + Video - Maui Farmer's Union Meeting 10/25/11

When I wrote the last post, I didn't get a chance to upload all the videos from the recent Farmer's Union meeting, and was pretty distracted by the surprise presentation at the meeting. Just to reiterate, the Farmer's Union isn't just for farmers, but small scale gardeners as well and anyone interested in sustainability and local community.

NOTE: Anyone who was at the meeting who wants to add more details or corrections, please let me know.

A few highlights from the meeting in more detail:

Vincent Mina thanked Don King, the creator of the new Farmer's Union logo. Click here to see the video.

Chef Suki Bergeron presented a vegan squash soup, that included squash, sweet potatoes, and oats blended in for creaminess. Like other chefs, she emphasizes fresh local produce, using whole ingredients, geared to one's location, and one's genetic ancestry. The one part where she talked and I didn't film her, she mentioned that it's important to consider one's ancestors. She mentioned that Asians get more colon cancer than Northern Europeans on the same diet which includes meat, because of genetic differences in colon or intestinal length.  She also talked about balancing flavors or tastes. She said her squash soup, a good "earth" element food, is also naturally sweet. To see the video, click here.

Lehuahana Vander Velde gave her update on the website... Click here to see the site, and she would appreciate feedback, and more photos.  The name of the site may also change in the future.  When the site name gets finalized, I would like to add the site link to all the Farmer's Union videos.  

Ryan, Produce Manager at Mana Foods, gave his local produce report.

Highlights include:
  • Fresh apples from Olinda will be coming soon. These apples are only in 2nd year of production.
  • Local figs and pomegranates are more available
  • In the middle of persimmon season
  • Some Rapoza and Fairchild mangoes still available
  • Market gaps include: local organic onions (onions are often sprayed), celery, peppers, potatoes.
  • Hana Fresh has been supplying more tomatoes, like 1/3 of what Mana can use.
Ryan's presentation can be viewed here:

Harriet Witt did a very entertaining presentation to explain the significance of November 17th, as an astronomical date... and the reasoning behind the timing of the Hawaiian New Year or the Makahiki, which falls on the first new moon after November 17th.

Bill Greenleaf (I believe this is who it was) talked about food safety legislation, and this was a more technical presentation, so for me it was hard to follow.  I did film a portion of his talk, but it will take another day to get it uploaded. Check on youtube for it in a couple of days.

Lastly, I thought I had filmed this most excellent presentation by Greg Hopkins about compost using the tail end of my dying batteries, but alas, had not saved it properly to my computer. Ok, I am just going to blame this incident on my distracted state of mind after leaving the meeting that night and also the following day.

Here is what I remember from Greg's talk (which may not be that accurate) :

An inexpensive way to make passive compost is by getting 7 pallets, and using them as insulation. Greg did not go into detail with this. I wanted to know if he meant to put them on the ground and then lay the compost on top, or to circle the compost pile with the pallets, creating a fence.  This style of compost (weeds, leaves, grass) can take a while to break things down, and one doesn't have to be exact about ratios of different materials.

Greg mentioned worm composting but said it can be tricky to keep them moist and have them at the right temperature. (Yes, if you live at higher elevations, they require more care - but my worm compost bin in Haiku has been fine.)

The carbon to nitrogen ratio is very important.  Greg threw out some numbers like 25 to 1 or 75 to 1, meaning much more carbon to nitrogen, depending on the items in the compost.

Greg composts the waste from Whole Foods on Maui, including meat and animal products. Greg says meat composts very well, and though some compost books say not to do it, he said it's very doable. Greg may have said the tricky part has to do with breaking the meat down fully enough - referring to getting enough carbon in the pile.

Where do you get carbon?
Greg says wood chips are a good source, and to track down landscape trimmers who have to take their trucks "down the hill." He said they will often sell you the chips inexpensively, or on Friday afternoons when they want to be pau with work, sometimes you can get them for free.

You need a lot of wood chips. Greg, I think, mentioned making a pile 4 x 4 or bigger.

Yes, you can compost entire animals, like 1000 lb cows which had died and been trucked up to Greg's yard. Greg confessed that he used to live at Kula 200, a nice subdivision with plenty of doctors and lawyers, and in his backyard, he was composting big dead cows. Without any smell and his neighbors didn't know. P.S., you can also look at an earlier post of mine regarding composting animals.

If you compost correctly, using LOTS of carbon, then there will be no smell. If you have smell, it means you are not trapping all the nitrogen and need to add more carbon.  Greg mentions a video of his daughter peeling back the tarp on a compost pile, and underneath is a big dead cow and she sniffs the air and pronounces it "good smelling."

It's important to keep the compost pile moist. Greg uses a tarp, not to keep water out of the pile, but to keep moisture in the pile. Greg mentioned some compost thermometers - I don't recall the brands or types - to check for temperature.

I think Greg mentioned composting in layers. This is pretty typical for compost... one layer of one item, then some carbon in the form of wood chips, etc.. then another layer...

Yes, you can also compost human poo. Greg cited a source on the net with 3 downloadable manuals to compost human poo. He also said his family filled up a large container (like garbage can) with poo. He said it makes great compost, but doesn't recommend it if someone in the family has chronic diseases.  I believe Greg even used the expression "shi--ing in a bucket" to emphasize that human waste is normally just wasted down the sewer system, but has value, and is not just sh--.

Where can you find Greg? He said he often posts in Craigslist in the farm and garden section with the title "Whole Food compost" not Whole Foods compost...I looked the other day and couldn't find him.

But... I did come across this video on youtube, and I think it might be him:

As mentioned earlier, if you have additions or corrections, please comment below or email me if you know me. Mahalo!


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