With the grand success that has been our hydroponic greenhouse operation, our next step is to create a second greenhouse. This new one will be complemented by all we've learned while establishing the first one, and it will also be rated for severe winds, increasing its chance of survival if another hurricane should make landfall on Kauai. To this end, the monks of the Siddhidatta Kulam have been working hard to begin the assembly of the frame. The concrete slab was poured last month and all the pieces of the greenhouse frame have arrived.
Last week the team was working on this as a morning project, only to find things not flowing as smoothly as desired. The only part of the project that seemed to move flawlessly was the establishment of the greenhouse's small Ganesha shrine. So with that, the team focused on finishing the initial setup of the shrine. Aum Gam Ganapataye Namah
Over the retreat, Acharya Arumuganathaswami and Natyam Dayanatha visited the Kauai Island Farm Fair. This fair is the largest farm fair in Hawaii, and the biggest annual event on Kauai with some 35 to 40 thousand people attending (the island population is only 66,000). Brahmachari Vel Mahalingam, Chinnu, and our Iraivan Temple Silpis came along for the event. While there, our group encountered several local SSC members, including Vel Alahan who was stationed at the "Kauai Grown" booth, giving out samples of the monastery's very own Wailua River Noni Juice.
It's been one year since we first started the process of growing Shitake mushrooms using our own naturally fallen ironwood. Once the logs are inoculated, it can take up to 18 months before the first fruiting, and consequently confirmation that the process was done correctly! We are happy to report that our first inoculation was a success!
The rows of tall trees in the center of this photo (notice a tiny Yogi Adinatha at the base of them) is a small part of our larger koa planting. This endeavor has been quite successful, and we understand ours to be the largest recent planting of koa in the state. Scientists at the Hawaii Agricultural Research Center have bred these trees specifically to be resistant to the infamous koa wilt disease, which is ravaging much of the island's koa trees.
Since the concept of the greenhouse has gone far beyond what the monastery ever imagined, the decision was made to order another one. A secondary greenhouse, as explained by Yoginathaswami, can help us move out of the labor-intense raised-bed garden and use less manpower to grow more food. Win-win.
More to come as this several thousand piece greenhouse gets built.
The monks celebrate the first vine ripened tomatoes produced by the newest greenhouse. As you can see, the plants are rapidly coming to fruition.
Planting, growing and harvesting our greenhouse produce is now a normal part of the monastery schedule. As the structures for hydroponic farming, aka climate-controlled agriculture, expand and settle in we find new varieties of foods that we never thought could come from our own gardens. The monastery's first successful harvest of hydroponic zucchini barreled into the kitchen just yesterday and became a delectable fare. Our cook for the day sautéed the zucchini in a sage/rosemary and black pepper butter sauce and piled on baked sweet potato, garlic and onion. hmmm good.
Of course this is only the beginning and many more foods are to come. But the real question on everyone's mind is, when do we try our first homegrown tomato-basil pizza? Oh my.
To end last phase with a bang, the Siddhidata Kulam worked all afternoon to create a feast for their brother monks in honor of Thai Pongal. The harvest festival was decorated with a grand shrine in the middle of the kitchen, sugar-cane arch and as many fresh fruits and veggies plucked from the gardens as possible. Of course sweet rice and vadai overflowed in abundance, with colorful dal and veggie dishes as well. We hope you had a sweet Pongal and that your rice boiled over in the auspicious direction.
Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.