When the Department of Forestry and Wildlife here in Hawaii asked the monks to help host a "Landowners Workshop," we thought it would be a group of people with land who knew very little about growing crops and trees, and the workshop would be an introduction.
Much to our surprise, the group turned out to contain a broad cross section of Kauai residents including Lelan Nishek, old time friend and owner of the largest landscape company and nursery on the island, Marty Fernandez, another old time friend and our tree growing mentor who is the manager and botanist at a local Botanical Garden and tree farm. There were seasoned organic growers, neophyte land owners and representatives of several federal and state agencies involved in forestry.
The workshop was greatly enhanced by the presence of Gilles Lebbe, master forester and the head of Green Energy Team, a company that is producing electricity from biomass and which has planted and is growing thousands of acres of trees. Gilles discussed at length the complex process his company goes through to find the right variety and sub variety of trees, the right fertilizers and methods of planting to get the best growth with the least investment. An impressive presentation indeed! in addition he answered many questions from the group. With such a highly experienced group there was a great synergy with questions, experience and ideas being shared broadly.
The group used our equipment tent on Himalayan Acres for one session and then had lunch and another session in our banyan mandapam at the monastery. They visited our organic noni orchard and also our first Koa planting. It turns out that our Koa planting has become well known among local forestry and wildlife experts as the first production orchard for Koa bred specially to be resistant to a disease called Koa Wilt which kills most Koa at low altitude. This breeding program holds great promise for future reforestation of the islands and so there is much more attention focused on our little planting than we had realized.
At the end of the workshop, Sadasivanathaswami took this very harmonious and enthusiastic group on a tour of the temple and temple gardens for a perfect end to a long day.
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