Making baskets out of ‘pests’

KOKEE — Carol Peacock said she came up to Kokee after seeing Barbara Freeman’s basket from last year.

“Barbara and I belong to this group who does crafting,” Peacock said. “We were doing lauhala at Barbara’s house and I saw the basket. I told myself I would be at the next Banana Poka Round Up this year. Maybe, we should have had the whole group up here.”

Freeman also made the trip to Kokee, volunteering with Kathleen Wichman and the silent auction to benefit Hui O Laka, the host of the event at the Koke‘e Civilian Conservation Corps Camp on Sunday.

Chris Faye, director of the Kokee Natural History Museum, said banana poka is an invasive species that at one point, threatened the forest environment of Kokee due to its aggressive nature.

“It belongs to the lilikoi family,” Faye said. “The lilikoi can get pretty aggressive. The plant crawls over the native plants and eventually smothers it with its own vegetation.”

Banana Poka is also a fabulous craft material, and the heart of the Banana Poka Round-Up capitalizes on this aspect by making baskets.

“This is the 27th year we’ve done this,” Faye said. “We’ve also done pretty good with controlling the pest because now, we are having to really hunt to find vines to make the baskets with.”

There was also live music and exhibits.

The festival is sponsored by Hui O Laka, the County of Kauai, and the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

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