LIHUE — John Anderson, who is part of Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers, said connecting with other gardeners and farmers is incredibly helpful when it comes to growing things.
And recently he had a chance to talk shop with a group of garden gurus who have come together to be a resource for the community about agriculture and its connection to the ocean.
“We walked around and sampled the different fruits, checked out different ways of helping feed the trees,” Anderson said. “It’s a chance to share some thoughts.”
The group combines the skillsets of two programs on Kauai: the University of Hawaii certified Master Gardeners and Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens program.
“It’s an opportunity to have a free garden consultation and for Master Gardeners, it’s a chance to walk the walk,” said Cynthia Welti, who is heading the consultation group.
She is a Master Gardener with a passion for the environment, and heads up Kauai’s Ocean Friendly Gardens program, a nationwide program that encourages growers to consider their impacts to the oceans and surrounding ecosystems.
Master Gardener is a certification obtained through UH after going through a few months of classes taught by experts in agriculture.
“It’s a collaboration and a cooperation. It’s a gardening hui,” Welti said.
The hui is focused on the East Side right now and 12 gardens have been Ocean Friendly certified.
Welti said she’s open for business on the East Side and the hui is looking for yards and gardeners to chat about their specific pests and invasive species challenges, their use of pesticides, and soil rehabilitation.
The program certifies yards and gardens that have minimal hardscape and no run-off, healthy and living soil, and uses minimal to zero pesticides.
Welti has an ocean friendly garden on her property and said she’s looking forward to connecting with other gardeners to troubleshoot problems and gain inspiration.
“A lot of the questions we’ve been getting are ‘what is this plant,’ type questions,” she said. “We talk about invasives management and best practices.”
Anderson said the tour with the gardening hui was a great chance to collaborate, and he spent quite a bit of time talking with them about soil rehabilitation.
“Our soils are largely so depleted on Kauai in part because of how the lands were used, and in part because of the rain and the erosion that takes topsoil away over time,” he said.
The gardening hui pointed out much of that runoff goes straight into the ocean, and brought back up those questions about where fertilizers, pesticides and other soil amendments end up.
“One of the main things I got out of it was a reminder of the connection between my place and the ocean, which I don’t think of that often,” Anderson said.
Anyone interested in meeting with the gardening hui, or forming additional groups around the island, can call Cynthia Welti at 278-0748.