Our First Dragon Fruit!

Jai Ganesha!

After having several of these fascinating cactus plants in the aadheenam gardens for more than a few years, we've finally had one of them fruit. Just recently our monks found this bulky dragon fruit on one of these unique climbing cacti. And it was TASTY! This, usually subtle, airy-sweet fruit was full of tasty natural sugars which several monks were able to enjoy. We hope to see more of these colorful treats next time the plant fruits.

Learning Hydroponics in California

Recently Sannyasin Yoginathaswami and Nirvani Tejadevanatha returned from a trip to California. The two travelers were there to attend a two day seminar presented by AmHydro of Eureka, CA. The seminar focused on bringing a total beginner in Hydroponics up to speed with strong knowledge and practical experience. The first day of the seminar was held at the Ingomar Club, a victorian style building in the Bay Area. This building was ornately constructed with amazing wood work. While there, our monks were given an overview of the Hydroponic industry, general plant growth and the science behind growing. As well as information on the components of a successful greenhouse.

The second day took place at a working greenhouse (Humbolt Hydro farms). This Hydroponic Greenhouse was truly amazing. It has a fully automated nutrient feeding system and a fully automated climate control system that opens and closes cooling vents as needed. Our monks were given step by step hands-on experience in planting seeds, transplanted seedlings and harvesting lettuce. Nutrient managements with discussed at great length. The final presentation was quite interesting and was focused on marketing and starting a hydroponic business. In our case we simply plan on producing food for the monastery. Our thanks to Am Hydro for educating and inspiring Yoginathaswami and Tejadevanatha.

Before returning to the monastery Swami and Nirvani had the opportunity to see some huge red wood trees in Humbolt Redwood state park, feeling very small when standing next to these majestic trees. The two then walked on the Golden Gate Bridge.

That evening Swami performed a Siva Puja for the Golden Gate Mission church members. Everyone enjoyed a short meditation and then Swami gave an update about Iraivan temple construction. Swami touched on the importance of daily puja and the esoterics behind it. The members cooked a vegan feast. Thank you Golden Gate Mission for taking such loving care of our monks. Mahalo Nui Loa Aum Namah Sivaya.

Corn Harvest

The Siddhidata Kulam successfully harvested the first batch of monastery corn today, bringing in a total of twenty-five pounds. During the past three months the stalks have been growing in our lower garden, waiting patiently to flower, fruit and develop. While not the first ever corn production for us, it has been years since the monks have seen corn pass through the kitchen!

Ganesha's Greenhouse

The Siddhidata Kulam has completed the hydroponic tent, along with all of the small sheds surrounding the area, and installed the Annapurna Garden Ganesha in the new facility. Our vision is to one day leave the planting of the soil and grow completely in this new system--in the future. For now we must run tests, collect data and actually grow veggies to determine what our highest yield crops will be and what is most logical, practical and edible. Enjoy the slideshow detailing the installation puja and first seed planting.

Life on the Farm

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:

Noni Building and Gym Concrete Floor

Our Noni production building is moving right along as the weather here on kauai is sunny and warm.

Noni Building Groundbreaking

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!

New Tractor

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.

A Visit and Tour with the Department of Forestry and Wildlife

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.

Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.

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