NTBG event offers a touch of home

KUKUI’ULA — As shoppers browsed through offerings, they couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of the lounging canine.

Koki, the pet of Phyllis Segawa of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, was relaxing from the safety of a tabletop canopy, and despite the pairs of feet that tromped past him, was too content to move from his resting place.

That homey touch was just one of several that greeted shoppers who took advantage of a nice Southshore morning to check out the latest offerings from a field of over a dozen all-Kaua’i crafters at the NTBG sale.

“We always used to have a craft fair,” one volunteer offered. “But, then, one day we didn’t have one. Today, we’re back.”

Among the unique offerings was the invitation for shoppers to help themselves to some of the local fruits and items grown on the garden’s grounds. These included a tray full of avocado as well as starfruit from the tree that sits just west of the historic plantation house.

“It must be the house,” Segawa said while trying to put her finger on the oldstyle atmosphere.

“But, I think it’s the workers,” she added. “They all love working here, and are committed to what they do. Today, every one here is volunteering their time.”

More of the made-from-the-heart items included a variety of baked goods as well as some rummage items that NTBG volunteers contributed for the sale that was taking place in their “silent auction” tent, although there were no items to bid for, but was a nice term offered up by the garden guides.

Segawa noted that they were asking shoppers to bring canned goods, and lots came with their offerings, which she said will probably be turned over to leaders at a Koloa-area church.

Also in that tent were free coffee and water that was offered to the shoppers, and, for a nominal fee, staff members created sandwiches on demand.

That was enough to rouse Koki from his sheltered spot, as he trotted over to beg a portion from a diner.

Among the field of crafters and vendors was Phyllis Andrade, who started her holiday circuit out in ‘Ele’ele, and said Sunday was her final appearance for this year.

NTBG volunteers manned tables offering a wide assortment of handcrafted items, including uniquely local lei-like ruffles, to oshibana cards created from some of the garden foliage.

“People think we’re rich,” Segawa said. “But, the fact of the matter is that it’s the proceeds from these bake sales that enable the gardens to grow. One sale will help put in a new path, or a new archway.”

As Koki continued to silently beg lunch from one of the volunteers, Segawa said, “Oops, it’s time to get his food. He’s been ‘testing’ the bake-sale items all morning.”

Koki, whose paperwork name is Spike and Rosie’s Little Zip, is one of the stars at the NTBG visitor center located across Lawa’i Road from the county Spouting Horn Park.

Segawa, Koki’s owner, noted that visitors come back with all kinds of gifts for the canine, and many come back just to visit Koki.

She said Koki’s parents are from Australia, and he came to Hawai’i when his mom was pregnant.

Today, he’s one of the mascots of the NTBG visitor center.

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