Bowl of exotic tropical fruit used for the fruit tasting Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm at Cape Tribulation
Bed and Breakfast accommodation on the edge of the Daintree Rainforest  at Cape Tribulationand white-lipped tree frog
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About Alison and Digby Gotts - Cape Tribulation


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The newsletter for this month is going to be a rather rambling affair, along with its authors, as we both sit in an Internet Cafe in Vancouver trying to put together what's been happening.

Digby has completed his first 6 month stint on Samoa and is not required there for two months, so we have both headed off for France to get in some serious long distance walking. Alison has managed 4 weeks in Hawaii, with one of those weeks being a visit as a Woofa to a commercial nursery on the Big Island. We finally caught up in July, meeting up as planned on Kauai, and spending a week touring and walking over the scenic spots before heading off for Vancouver.

We visited one commercial grower at Kilauea, growing mango, lychee, longan and rambutan for local sales but earning most of his income from papaya and banana. Lots of problems here with export of fresh fruit to the mainland US because of the quarantine barriers. Lots of work and equipment not yet available, like vapour heat and irradiation, needed to get the fruit clean. The essential problem is that not enough fruit is being grown to justify the costs of such treatment.

Seeing all the lychee, rambutan and longan growing and fruiting together was a bit of a shock, as climatic requirements for each are different and usually mean one is better than the others. The rambutan here were certainly stressed, with lots of leaf burn visible on the margins. Well protected rambutan were also showing too much foliar growth for good fruit production. The longan on the other hand were showing too much fruit set, branches breaking off as the trees pulled themselves apart. The grower has had to resort to bolts and chains to tie the main trunks together. The lychee were fruiting with fewer problems, but small sized fruit may make local sales difficult, even though seeds were very small, giving a good flesh to aril ratio.

Cyclone problems are also a major issue for tree fruits in Hawaii, as Hurricane Iniki in 1993? removed most of the fruit trees. Trees replanted since the storm are now fruiting, but no markets have been developed as yet. Land values here are also such that investment of money into farming would be the last thing any accountant would recommend. The minimal return for an extended development period is just outrageous for anyone concerned about spending money.

Walking in the wild forest regions is quite an education for fruity people as mango, yellow guava, strawberry guava and mountain apple (Syzygium mollucensis?) are growing as weeds in many areas. Feasting while hiking is quite a novel experience, enjoyed until you realise that no native forests have actually survived. The odd native acacia and myrtaceae, grows in a forest of bamboo, gingers, lantana, eucalypt etc, all introduced and all dominating the natives. This destruction of the forests by every stage of settlement in Hawaii has left little native bush of interest, although gardens such as that at Limahuli are making attempts to propagate some of the natives.

We ate our first "Sugarloaf" pineapple and can accept that it is just about as good as the local Mossman fruit. It is very sweet with no acidity but it's insipid colour put us off. These were also sold at around US80c per pound at the retailer, making the fruit around A$4-5 each, compared to about half that in Mossman. The fruit we saw in supermarkets was all imported from California or NZ and so also tended to be priced for a rich clientele.

We didn't see any produce sold as 'organic', although airline hype gave it a high profile in their magazine. In fact, fresh fruits or vegetables have little place in the diet in Hawaii, as on Samoa, and this was reflected by the minimal space allocated to this display in the supermarkets. Farmers markets are very common in the islands and may represent the only way many farmers have of selling their produce, particularly as supermarkets have to outsource the supplies to guarantee consistency of supply - something a small grower cannot achieve.




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Bed and Breakfast accommodation on an exotic tropical fruit orchard at Cape Tribulation in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest
Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm, Lot 5 Nicole Drive, Cape Tribulation, Queensland, 4873, Australia - Tel: 0740 980057 - Fax: 0740 980067

Last updated December 19, 2013