Featured Article : 

August 2021


THE GARDEN ISLE  - "Grow Your Own"  - It's Easier Then You Think

By Jim Edmonds, PAL Papers

Image by Markus Spiske

By now, you may know that we are PAL . . . P - Permanently A - Affordable L - LIVING – NOT  just housing.  We always say:  It’s housing and sooooo much more!  Today we want to help you with one of your main costs of living:  FOOD.  Since 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 pm, August 23rd.

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.  As far as the food goes, you can do it with a little time and effort to produce fresh delicious herbs and produce right on your lanai, or in your back yard, or field.  And it doesn’t take much room.  Reduce your reliance on the big box and grocery stores, with their long and vulnerable supply chains, by growing some of your essential foods and save money on your food budget.

DID YOU KNOW that during the Covid-19 shutdown, Hawaii 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 Hawaii News Now by going to PAL-Kauai.org/Resources.    

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

If you’re thinking of “Digging in” (pun intended) here are some important local resources.  Almost all of them have web sites but they make this column too long and are very long to type.  You can find ALL of them and more at PAL-Kaua’i.org/Resources and please suggest more at Info@PAL-Kauai.org:

Veggie Starts & Plants

  • Heaven on Earth Starts – Eileen can be found Saturdays 9am-11am at Anaina Hou’s Farmers Market in Kilauea; she also hosts a plant stand in front of Hoku and Papaya’s Foods in Kapaa or contact intoitlove@yahoo.com.

  • Garden Ponds Nursery in Kilauea next to Mini golf and behind Banana Joes. Open Wed-Sun 12 -5pm (808) 828-6400

  • Kaapuni Nursery – 5776 Kaapuni Road, Kapahi, Tues-Sat, 11-5pm, (808) 645-6303

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

  • Malama Kaua‘i (Kalihiwai) – often has plant sales and free giveaways; follow on social media for latest info

  • Rosies Gardening – islandwide plant delivery

  • Papaya’s Natural Foods, 4-901 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa (808) 823-0190


Did you know that you can use your EBT cards to get 50% Off Produce & Poi?

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

  • What's allowed (and Not):  Only grocery-type food items & plants that grow food are eligible for SNAP; only poi & produce are eligible for Da Bux. Merchandise, flowers, & ornamental plants are not eligible. If you wish to buy these items, you may need to do so on a separate transaction.

Compost, Soil and Supplies

  • Home Depot (Lihue) – potting soil, fertilizers, pots, seeds, irrigation; order online & pickup

  • Walmart (Lihue) – Pots, fertilizer and supplies and some plants

  • Ace Hardware (Princeville, Kapaa, Lihue, Eleele) – potting soil, fertilizers, pots, seeds, irrigatio

  • Garden Island Hydro (Lihue) – potting soil, fertilizers, pots, seeds, irrigation

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

  • Kaua‘i Irrigation (Lihue) – irrigation systems and supplies

  • Heart & Soul Organics (Moloaa) – Compost, soil, mulch etc. Do not go when raining or just after big rain, too wet and heavy!) Bring a tarp, they will load for you. 6020 Ko’olau Rd. in Moloa’a behind fruit stand. (808) 823-1007

  • GEM – Green Earth Matters (Moloa’a) – Commercial/Residential green waste facility ($10 cubic yard tipping fee). Screened compost & mulch available for purchase. Pick up or delivery service avail. 808-828-1114 or office@greenearthmattersinc.com

  • Kaua‘i Nursery and Landscaping (Lihue) – located at 3-1550 Kaumuali’i Hwy. in Lihue. (808) 245-7747

  • Seascapes Nursery (Kilauea) – 5101, 4741 Kahiliholo Rd # A, Kilauea, HI 96754. (808) 828-0444

  • Wiki Wiki Worm Ranch (Kalaheo) – provides composting worms (vemiculture) and related products (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) – specialize in permaculture garden design and sustainable systems; consulting for payment or trade. ancientspin@gmail.com or (541) 510-9658.

  • Master Gardener Helpline & Plant Diagnostic Tool

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

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

  • Kama’āina Gardens (Kilauea) – Custom garden beds designed and assembled for your home. Local and organic compost used. Call or text 808-639-3007.


General Resources

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

  • Kaua‘i Local Food Connector - Find out where to buy Kaua‘i local food, get emergency food assistance, and start your own garden!

  • Kilauea Ag Park (AHK) have a CSA, and community garden plots available, a program for families to raise 2 “heritage (locally adapted breed)” pigs (give 2 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 (groannn 😊) tomorrow’s guests include James Keach, PhD, Master Gardener Coordinator. The Master Gardener Program (www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/uhmg/) is a volunteer program administered by the University of Hawai’i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Cooperative Extension Service (CES).  The Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who assist the University in its mission to deliver relevant, research-based, environmentally sound horticulture information to the public. Through community outreach and education, they promote sustainable gardening practices and environmental stewardship on Kauaʻi.

Typically, the Master Gardener’s Training Program is offered once a year over a span of 16-weeks from February to May. The Training is conducted by UH faculty and local experts in botany, plant physiology, soil science, organic agriculture, plant pathology, entomology, native plants and more. Participants receive around 48 hours of classroom training, equivalent to a college-level introductory horticulture course. The program’s core curriculum covers the following topics:

  • Introduction to Gardening in Hawaiʻi, Basic Botany & Plant Physiology

  • Plant Propagation & Pruning

  • Soils & FertilizersOrganic Gardening, Plant Pathology/DiseasEntomology & Integrated Pest Management, Fruits and Vegetables, Tropical Trees, Plants & Lei Flowers, Lawns & Ground Covers and Native Plants of Hawaiʻi.


Classes are held at the Kauaʻi Agricultural Research Center in Wailua, or via Zoom, with hands-on activities. The course fee covers materials and resources and is determined on a yearly basis. Last year it was $200.

Our other guest on the PAL-Kaua’i radio show  is  Meghan Pittsley-Fox of Malama Kaua‘i.  Founded in 2006, Mālama Kaua’i is a community-based, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that focuses on increasing local food production and access for Kaua‘i.  They do this through a lens of resilience and sustainability, which leverages workforce and economic development efforts, partnerships and innovative programs to grow community capacity.  Some of their many programs include these exciting programs:

Village Harvest - a volunteer-based Kaua‘i “Gleaning program” that strives to bridge the gap between food waste and food insecurity by harvesting leftover produce left over from harvests on personal properties and farms and then 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 into the future, contributing to long-term food security.  MalamaKaua‘i.org

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. In addition, they offer curriculum, training, networking opportunities, and a resource-filled e-newsletter. They led Kaua‘iʻs 1st farm-to-school pilot, Māla‘ai Kula, at Kawaikini NCPCS and Ke Kula Niihau PCS 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 capacity-building assistance with a school garden or sustainability project, you can contact them with any questions at info@malamaKaua‘i.org or (808) 828-0685.

Kaua‘i Farmer Support - Malama Kaua‘i has provided Kaua‘i farmer support for over 15 years, hosting a variety of programs, events, workshops, and grant programs. Their programs are designed in direct response to our farmers’ needs and interests based on the 2017 Kaua‘i Farmer Survey and annual Kaua‘i Farmer Focus Groups.  They also provide fiscal sponsorship and grant writing/management services for small farming groups on Kaua‘i – such groups have included Moloaa Irrigation Cooperative, Kalalea Anahola Farmers Hui, and Waioli Valley Taro Hui.

And lastly, we have our PAL board member, Leilani Spencer, who wears many hats, one of which is in the Kaua’i community as a Nutrition Education Assistant for 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 useful 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!  

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