Read this month’s Florists’ Review article, Hawaii MIDPAC Horticultural Conference & Expo 2018! Article: Hawaii MIDPAC Horticultural Conference & Expo 2018!
Excerpt: “Embracing the theme “The Aloha Advantage,” the focus was placed on the quality of product grown in Hawaii thanks, in part, to the unique growing medium of lava rock cinder. However, with the eruption of the Kilauea volcano this year, it took on a new meaning. “Aloha means aﬀection, peace, compassion, mercy. It is in our state laws concerning mutual respect and aﬀection, which is warm and caring and with no intention of being returned,” commented Dawn Kitagawa, president of HENA. “We are ‘ohana’ [family] in the Islands. We share information. We work together for the common good of everyone. We were heartbroken with the eruption. Some companies lost their operations. They came to our conference, even with their losses, to help. They worked the conference even though they do not have plants to sell.”
“The Aloha spirit is not just a slogan; it is a way of life in Hawaii,” explained Enrique Martinez, owner of California & Hawaii Foliage Growers. “In two hours, friends lost their nurseries. Friends have lost everything.”
One such farmer was Robert Stearns, owner of Leilani Palms & Foliage, in Pahoa. “I’ve worked with foliage farms in Hawaii since 1983. I lost 100 percent of my inventory, which was on 11 acres. It is sad knowing the property is gone. It is a life-changing experience, which is bittersweet. We were told we had until Saturday to get plants out. The lava came in on Friday and, in hours, wiped out the farm,” relived Stearns. “This is not exclusive to the foliage farms. It is taking papaya ﬁelds, avocado orchards, orchid nurseries. Green Lake is now evaporated. As a farmer, you need to be resilient, or you don’t last long.”