Seed exchange Sunday celebrates growth of community food forest

LIHUE — Looking for something new to pump up that backyard garden?

The 12th Kauai Community Seed and Plant Exchange is set for Sunday and will celebrate the growth of the Kalihiwai Food Forest and Community Garden.

Since kicking off in 2008, the exchanges have continued to grow — no pun intended.

“It’s a really fun kind of plant and seed potluck,” said Paul Massey, director of Regenerations Botanical Garden.

The event is from noon to 5 p.m. at the food forest, located one mile up Kahiliholo Road at Wai Koa Plantation, on Kalihiwai Ridge. It is free and open to everyone.

This year Massey said he is expecting 300 people, and even aspiring green thumbs without a harvent of their own are encouraged to stop by.

“Even if you have nothing to share, you are welcome to come and encouraged to go home with plants and seeds. And for many that’s the first step,” Massey said. “There’s no expectations from it. Just, ‘Here, plant this at your home or in your garden.’”

Those with plants to share will spread them out across large tables. At approximately 2 p.m., a bell will sound, signaling for participants to help themselves to the wealth of seeds and plants, most from right here on Kauai, according to Massey.

The event will include music and food, and serves as a celebration of the Kalihiwai Food Forest.

The 2-acre project is only 9 months old, but has already developed an overhead canopy and is producing a variety of fruits, veggies and root crops. Around 150 varieties of plants, 88 long-term fruit trees and 22 varieties of bananas will be featured at the event. So it’s a whole lot more than your basic tomato.

“Right now it’s almost more of a community experiment,” Massey said. “How can we organize ourselves to manage this complex living system?”

Sunday’s exchange will feature several forest volunteers speaking about their personal experiences. Tours will be provided by members of the Food Forest Stewardship Circle.

RBG, which organizes the biannual event, will also introduce the public to the new site of its permanent headquarters, adjacent to the food forest and community garden.

The 2-acre Regenerations Seed Center will be a simple yet comprehensive facility for growing, processing, storing and distributing island-adapted crops and other essential biodiversity for remediating and enhancing natural agricultural ecosystems, according to the release.

When complete, the center will serve as a regional training destination for seed production and stewardship of plant and soil resources by local communities.

Early check-in of plant material begins at noon, and only GMO-free, pest-free and non-invasive materials are requested. Participants will fill out a label identifying the type of seed or plant, its qualities and location where it was grown.

All materials will be given freely or traded.

The exchange will take place after the 2 p.m. blessing. Speakers will begin at approximately 3 p.m., followed by music by Malama Pono Allstars.

For more information or to volunteer visit www.ribg.org or call 652-4118.

• Chris D’Angelo, can be reached at 245-0441 or cdangelo@thegardenisland.com.

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