County looks to go pesticide-free

  • Courtesy of the County of Kaua‘i

    A county worker wields a weed steamer to control vegetative growth along Ke Ala Hele Makala‘e, the Eastside coastal path, Friday during a pesticide-free maintenance training session.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    County Department of Parks & Recreation Director Patrick Porter, left, discusses guinea grass and buffalo grass growth along Ke Ala Hele Makala‘e, the Eastside coastal path, with representatives from Beyond Pesticides, including Autumn Ness and Fern Holland, Friday at Kapa‘a Beach Park.

KAPA‘A — Steam kills grass, said Fern Anuenue Holland, a community organizer for the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action Friday during a break in pesticide-free training for county workers responsible for park maintenance, held at Kapa‘a Beach Park.

“Steam is very effective,” Holland said. “It kills the plant down to the root, and even is able to keep the seeds from germinating by rupturing the seed casing. The only thing is that after you apply the steam, the plant still looks green.”

Holland said steam is effective against tough grasses like the guinea grass and buffalo grass that is plaguing portions of Ke Ala Hele Makala‘e multi-use path.

She was one of the representatives from Beyond Pesticides that took part in a pilot, pesticide-free training Thursday and Friday.

“We are working with the nonprofit Beyond Pesticides to explore pesticide-free-training methods to maintain our county facilities,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami in a press release. “County staff piloted this training at the Captain Cook Park in Waimea, and at the Kapa‘a Beach Park.”

Training involved turf health, landscape areas, as well as weed management for roads and other areas. “Weeds take root in bare ground,” Holland said. “If the turf is healthy, there is no room for weeds to root.”

Pesticide-free land care focuses on managing weeds and insects through the building of soil conditions, and employing cultural practices such as aeration, overseeding, dethatching and proper mowing and watering, stated the Beyond Pesticides representatives.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or

  1. David Brown February 22, 2020 8:50 am Reply

    I would like a follow up on this with following
    1) is it working?
    2) is it cost effective, both labor and material

  2. Simple Man February 22, 2020 2:06 pm Reply

    How is the steam produced? My assumption is with a gas powered engine burning fossil fuel. The very thing many of the synthetic pesticides are produced out of.

    Seems like you are only shifting the use of fossil fuels from the hated pesticides to the socially acceptable gas burning engines.

  3. LJ February 22, 2020 4:57 pm Reply

    For what its worth, this entire article uses “Pesticide” when in fact they mean to use “Herbicide”.
    Pesticides kill pests such as insects, rodents, etc. Fauna
    Herbicides kill unwanted vegetation and weeds. Flora

    Part of the problem with the entire debate is when people start confusing terminology and get misinformation. Such is the case when GMO is confused with Pesticides(though truthfully, they mean herbicides).

  4. Debra Kekaualua February 22, 2020 6:44 pm Reply

    i was told, for especially Ginni grass, that highly concentrated salt water spayed is effective. Ace carries soft water salt! Trying it out tomorrow

  5. Amused February 24, 2020 4:08 am Reply

    What does Fern know about weeds, herbicides and weed control? Why would anyone treat her as a credible resource after the lies she’s told to the community about agriculture?

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