Greenwell Botanical garden to celebrate taro


BY CHELSEA JENSEN | WEST HAWAII TODAY

Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden will celebrate Hawaii's natural and cultural diversity with hands-on activities and presentations this weekend in Captain Cook.

The free eighth annual Grow Hawaiian Weekend will bring closer together Hawaii's culture and natural history and residents and visitors alike, said Peter Van Dyke, garden manager.

"Plants are our cultural treasures and we are working to bring together a diverse group of people who agree with that concept," Van Dyke said. "We hope to blur the line between culture and nature and get people more excited about plants."

This year, the 15-acre botanical garden will celebrate kalo, or taro — a staple food that also has Hawaiian cultural and spiritual significance, he said.

On Friday, from noon to 4 p.m., attendees can join garden staff, taro experts Jerry Konanui, Kanae Keawe and Daniel Anthony and students in "kui kalo," or poi pounding. Wooden boards, stones and cooked taro will be available for people to make the traditional Hawaiian food, Van Dyke said.

From 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, there will be botanical garden, poi making and taro cultivation presentations, as well as cultural story-telling sessions. Ipu, or gourd, decorating; kapa making; lauhala weaving; woodworking; lei making and Hawaiian dyes will also be demonstrated. A shell collection will also be on display.

Also Saturday, the garden will dedicate its new 1,200-square-foot visitor center at 9 a.m., he said. Work on the $1 million state-funded visitor center began in August 2010.

The center, Van Dyke said, will make the garden more visible and easier for visitors to find. Before it was constructed, the garden's visitor center consisted of small buildings located off an unpaved road with little highway signage.

"This is such an improvement because it makes us way more accessible," he said. "Now we can meet the visitors' expectation of what a botanical garden that's open to the public should be."

The garden is located on Mamalahoa Highway, just south of mile marker 110, in Captain Cook.

For more information, call 323-3318 or email agg@bishopmuseum.org.

cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com