THE PAL PAPERS: “Grow your own” – It’s easier than you think

The PAL Kaua‘i mission is to provide homes and sustainable living solutions, Within reach, restoring hope for the people of Kaua‘i.

By now, you may know that we are PAL: Permanently Affordable LIVING — NOT just housing.

We say: It’s housing and so much more! Today we will help you with one of your main costs of living: FOOD. The three greatest contributors to those costs are housing, transportation and food. Tomorrow, the fourth Monday of August, we will take a deeper dive into food on our PAL KKCR Radio Show from 4 to 6 p.m., Aug. 23.

A crucial element of affordable living is an affordable food source. We are blessed to live on The Garden Island, where we can plant, grow and harvest food, flowers, fiber and fuel right here.

With a little time and effort, you can produce fresh delicious herbs and produce right on your lanai, or in your backyard. It doesn’t take much room. Reduce your reliance on the big box and grocery stores, with their long and vulnerable supply chains. Grow some of your essential foods and save money on your food budget.

DID YOU KNOW that, during the COVID-19 shutdown, Hawai‘i almost ran out of food? About 90% of our food is imported, and COVID shutdowns broke our food supply chains!

For a great documentary on both how scary this was – and still is – to those who know about it AND some good news in the second half about how we can eliminate this threat to our food supply, check out this free documentary, put together by Hawai‘i News Now at PAL-Kaua‘

We are so lucky to have remarkable people who care and provide guidance, direction, help with seeds, information about soil quality and plant illnesses, etc.

Thinking of “Digging in?” (pun intended) Here are some important local resources. Almost all of them have websites but they are too long for this column or for you to type. You can find ALL of them and more at PAL-Kaua’, or google them, and please suggest more at Info@PAL-Kaua‘

Veggie starts and plants

• Heaven on Earth Starts – Saturdays 9 to 11 a.m. at Anaina Hou’s farmers’ market in Kilauea and plant stand in front of Hoku and Papaya’s Natural Foods in Kapa‘a;

• Garden Ponds Nursery in Kilauea: Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. 808-828-6400;

• Ka‘apuni Nursery – 5776 Ka‘apuni Rd., Kapahi, Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 808-645-6303;

• Ancient Spin (Wailua/remote) – veggie and perennial starts and cuttings; Tammy 541-510-9658;

• Malama Kaua‘i (Kalihiwai) – plant sales and free giveaways; follow on social media;

• Rosies Gardening – island-wide plant delivery;

• Papaya’s Natural Foods, 4-901 Kuhio Hwy., Kapa‘a 808-823-0190. You can use your EBT cards for 50% off produce and poi;

• Da Bux Double Up Food Bucks program provides 50% off fresh produce bags and poi for all SNAP users. Check out as usual for SNAP and they will process your discount when they process your payment;

• What’s allowed (and not): Only grocery-type food items and plants that grow food are eligible for SNAP; only poi and produce are eligible for Da Bux. Merchandise, flowers, and ornamental plants are not eligible.

Compost, soil and supplies

• Home Depot (Lihu‘e) – potting soil, fertilizers, pots, seeds, irrigation;

• Walmart (Lihu‘e) – Pots, fertilizer, supplies and some plants;

• Ace Hardware (Princeville, Kapa‘a, Lihu‘e, ‘Ele‘ele) – potting soil, fertilizers, pots, seeds, irrigation;

• Garden Island Hydro (Lihu‘e) – potting soil, fertilizers, pots, seeds, irrigation;

• Kaua‘i Paint & Feed (Kilauea) – Hendrikus high-performance, organic Fertilizer;

• Kaua‘i Irrigation (Lihu‘e) – irrigation systems and supplies;

• Heart & Soul Organics (Moloa‘a) – Compost, soil, mulch etc. Bring a tarp, they will load. 6020 Ko‘olau Rd. 808-823-1007;

• GEM – Green Earth Matters (Moloa‘a) – Commercial/residential green waste facility ($10 cubic yard tipping fee). Compost and mulch available for purchase. Pickup or delivery. 808-828-1114;

• Kaua‘i Nursery & Landscaping (Lihu‘e) – 3-1550 Kaumuali’i Hwy. Lihu‘e. 808-245-7747;

• Seascapes Nursery (Kilauea) – 4741 Kahiliholo Rd # A, Kilauea. 808-828-0444;

• Wiki Wiki Worm Ranch (Kalaheo) – composting worms, etc. 808-639-2016.

Soil testing

• A & L Western Laboratories – Soil Testing Lab;

• Testing Your Soil: Why and How to Take a Soil-Test Sample.

Information, support

• Ancient Spin – Tammy Davis, Consultant (Wailua/remote) – permaculture garden design and sustainable systems; payment or trade. 541-510-9658;

• Master Gardener Helpline & Plant Diagnostic Tool;

• “Go Farm” program at KCC – Eric Hansen 808-245-0129;

• Topher’s Go-fors (island-wide) – permaculture garden design, earthworks, and installation, hauling, irrigation, tree trimming, garden/landscaping and robotic lawn-care services. 808-631-7132;

• Kama‘aina Gardens (Kilauea) – Custom garden beds designed and assembled. 808-639-3007.

General resources

• Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawaii – agricultural blessings from the Hawaiian Nation;

• Kaua‘i Local Food Connector – Where to buy Kaua‘i local food, emergency food assistance or start your garden;

• Kilauea Ag Park (AHK) have a CSA (community supported agriculture), community garden plots, a program for families to raise two “heritage pigs” (locally adapted breed – they give two piglets to family to raise until “harvest” time, one the family keeps, the other goes back to AHK).

If you would like to dig a little deeper tomorrow’s guests include James Keach, PhD, Coordinator of The Master Gardener Program – a volunteer program administered by the University of Hawai’i College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR) Cooperative Extension Service (CES). They are trained volunteers who assist UH in delivering relevant, environmentally sound horticulture information, promoting good gardening practices to the Kaua‘i public.

The Master Gardener’s Training Program is offered once a year from February to May. It is conducted by UH faculty and local experts, offering 48 hours of training, equivalent to a college-level intro horticulture course. The program covers the following:

• Introduction to Gardening in Hawai‘i;

• Plant Propagation & Pruning;

• Soils & Fertilizers, Organic Gardening, Plant Pathology/Disease & Pest Management, Fruits & Vegetables, Tropical Trees, Plants & Lei Flowers, Lawns & Ground Covers and Native Plants of Hawai‘i;

• Classes at the Kaua‘i Agricultural Research Center in Wailua, or via Zoom. The course fee was $200 last year.

Our other guest tomorrow on the PAL-Kaua’i radio show is Meghan Pittsley-Fox of Malama Kaua‘i. Founded in 2006, Malama Kaua‘i is a community-based, 501(c)3 nonprofit that focuses on increasing local food production and access for Kaua‘i, through a lens of resilience and sustainability. They work to grow community capacity. Some of their many programs:

• Village Harvest – a volunteer-based Kaua‘i “Gleaning program” that bridges the gap between food waste and food insecurity by harvesting produce leftover from harvests on personal properties and farms and donating to food pantries, youth programs, and home deliveries for homebound and houseless. They also distribute & install food trees throughout the community to increase direct access to produce in the future, contributing to long-term food security.;

• Kaua‘i School Garden Network & Farm to School Hui, established in 2010 and supports all schools, PreK-12, on Kaua‘i. They provide assistance with funding, technical and volunteer support for school gardens, school sustainability initiatives and local food in local schools and they offer curriculum, training, networking opportunities, and a resource-filled e-newsletter. They led Kaua‘i‘s 1st farm-to-school pilot to support the creation of culturally relevant school garden and food program models serving Hawaiian keiki and youth.

If you are a teacher or school administration seeking assistance with a school garden or sustainability project, contact them 808-828-0685.

• Kaua‘i Farmer Support – Malama Kaua‘i has provided Kaua‘i farmer support for over 15 years, hosting events, workshops, and grant programs in direct response to our farmers’ needs and interests. They provide fiscal sponsorship and grant writing/management services for small farming groups on Kaua‘i.

Also with us will be our PAL board member, Leilani Spencer, who wears many hats, including as a nutrition education assistant for the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa CTAHR, and she offers a 4-6-week series of classes to SNAP-eligible individuals and families called Food and Money Basics that covers information and strategies on how to Spend Less and Eat Better, Safe Food Handling and other practical tips and tricks to reduce the food expenses.

We hope all of this support and long list of resources will inspire you to go get in your garden and GROW YOUR OWN!

You can find links to almost ALL of them and more at PAL-Kaua’ and please suggest more at Info@PAL-Kaua‘ And call in to contribute or ask questions at 826-7771 – 4 to 6 p.m. tomorrow.

Call PAL at (808) 738-6706. TOGETHER … WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!


Jim Edmonds, president of PAL (Permanently Affordable Living) Kaua‘i, can be reached at Jim@PAL-Kaua‘ The PAL Kaua‘i mission is to provide homes and sustainable-living solutions, within reach, restoring hope for the people of Kaua‘i.

  1. Kauaidoug August 22, 2021 8:10 am Reply

    Master Gardener program. Great way to learn about organic gardening and make even better friends.

  2. Ruta Jordans August 22, 2021 9:16 am Reply

    Excellent article on Grow Your Own in today’s TGI. But, naturally, I am writing about what you left out in that long, stuffed-full article.

    In the circular economy, which you are promoting when you urge people to grow their own, they should also be composting their own. Rather than telling them where they can buy IMPORTED compost, please complete the circle and tell them to make their own compost with which to feed their plants, amend the soil, and sequester carbon.

  3. Roger Jacobs August 22, 2021 9:02 pm Reply

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