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Tenth year for the Grow Hawaiian Festival

February 16, 2014 - 12:05am

One of the favorite events of the year for many residents and visitors takes place in South Kona the last Saturday of February. This year, the 10th annual Grow Hawaiian Festival will be held at Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 22. Entrance to Greenwell Garden and to the event is free that day.

This event has something for everyone, but gardeners and farmers will find presentations and displays of special interest. Noa Lincoln will give a presentation on soils and Hawaii sugarcane and be on hand throughout the day to answer questions about growing sugarcane.

Jerry Konanui will share his expertise on all Hawaii crops. If you have a question about kalo or awa, listen for the sound of poi stones on poi boards. Konanui will be among the experts leading a hands-on poi-making activity. Bring “mystery” plants — or photos of them — to the event where two of the leading botanists in the state will identify them for you. If you have gardening questions, the Master Gardeners will be ready to advise you on ways to grow healthy, beautiful plants. There will be three garden tours during the day, led by expert guides.

Hawaiian culture will be well represented with activities and presentations throughout the day. Demonstrations of kapa making, gourd decorating, weaving, cordage making, lomilomi massage, woodworking and Hawaiian dying techniques will be ongoing. Weavers will present a hat show and two ukulele bands will perform. Hands-on activities for young and old include making nose flutes, weaving bracelets, stamping kapa designs, making cordage, as well as poi pounding.

Two related presentations and demonstration booths will revolve around voyaging. Kaiulani Odom, ROOTs Project Coordinator, Kokua Kalihi Valley, will make a presentation on the Ai Pono movement to provision voyaging canoes with locally grown, traditionally based foods. She will present a display on Hawaiian voyaging and the foodstuffs and plants that travel on the canoes with the voyagers. Gary Eoff has been working with her. He will bring a display of the tools and implements voyagers use as they cross the oceans, including fishing gear and containers. Eoff will also give a presentation on olona cordage, one of the strongest natural fiber cordages.

The event is not all plants and culture, though. It celebrates all of the natural life of the islands, and the people who work to conserve it. There will be entomologists to identify and talk about native, beneficial and pest bugs. Pumena Imada of Bishop Museum will make a presentation and bring a display on two extinct birds, the poouli, and the oo.

In the early years of the Grow Hawaiian Festival, organizers and planners realized that conservation scientists who attend the festival might prefer a formal setting in which to present their latest research. Thus, the annual Dryland Forest Symposium became a spin-off event that has taken on a life of its own.

The eighth annual Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. It will feature presentations by scientists and conservationists who study ways to preserve Hawaii’s dryland forest plants and ecosystems. Tickets are $55 and include lunch and parking. For more information go to or contact Kathy Frost at 325-6885 or To register for the symposium go to or contact Cortney Okumura at the Kohala Center at 443-2757.

Support for the 10th annual Grow Hawaiian Festival comes from Hawaii Forest and Trail, Kamehameha Schools, Kukio and Kealakekua Ranch Center, Ltd. For more information, visit Amy B.H. Greenwell Garden’s website, bishopmuseum.orggreenwell, or contact Greenwell Garden at 323-3318 or

Peter Van Dyke is the manager of Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook.

Tropical gardening helpline

Andrea asks: I want to attract more butterflies to my garden this year. What should I plant to attract them?

Answer: Several butterfly species are plentiful here in Hawaii. Just remember that butterflies go through several stages of metamorphosis including caterpillars which can eat a lot of leaf matter. Many butterflies are attracted to the color red. Red pentas seem to be especially attractive to several species of butterflies.

The cabbage white will be attracted to any cruciferous vegetables you grow. Cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, cabbage, cress, bok choy, broccoli and similar green leafy vegetables. Of course, if you encourage these butterflies, you’ll have to put up with their caterpillar eating the leaves of your veggies.

Also common and quite beautiful are the gulf fritillary and the citrus swallowtail. The preferred host of the gulf fritillary is the passion fruit vine. Any and all citrus trees will host the citrus swallowtail. In both cases, you may lose some leaves of the hosts to the caterpillar stage of these butterflies.

Many people plant crown flower or milkweed to attract the monarch butterfly. As with the others mentioned, the host’s leaves will be a sacrifice to your butterflies in the larval stage.

You may also want to attract the native Kamehameha butterfly. The host for this butterfly is the native mamaki. It is a small tree that is usually available at Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden.

For photos and additional information on these and other butterflies of Hawaii, go to

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