JULY 2000 NEWSLETTER
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
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.