Over at the monk's tree gardens we were able to catch some photos of a tree planting operation for our next batch going in the ground. Nirvani Haranandinatha reports:
Our Noni production building is moving right along as the weather here on kauai is sunny and warm.
For some time now the monastery has been producing a small amount of commercial noni juice. This Noni Juice project is part of an initiative to support our mahogany, rosewood and koa hardwood forests while they grow. We have over 1000 Noni trees on our Himalayan Acres agricultural land on the other side of the Wailua River, which we harvest fruit from. The fruit is then washed and barreled, allowing it to naturally ferments itself into noni juice. This juice is then sent to a commercial bottler. Up until now the monks have had to rent a commercial kitchen for a day and haul thousands of pounds of equipment and product to and from that kitchen in order to create this juice.
But no more! Today (well, yesterday) we mark the official groundbreaking of our new noni processing building, unofficially known as "Hale Noni" meaning "House of Noni." Inside this building, which will be a licensed commercial kitchen, our monks will be able to perform the otherwise tremendous task of juicing noni, with ease! The process will be much more efficient and enjoyable.
Beginning with a Ganesha puja by Yoginathaswami, our monks performed a ground breaking on the North Eastern corner of the soon-to-be building and blessed the earth beneath. Jai Ganesha!
Every few years the monks upgrade the monastery equipment in order to not be suffocated in maintenance nightmares. A new John Deere tractor has been purchased to help till the fields.
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.