From Field to Table

Island farm expands to support local customers.

[Appeared in the July 16, 2009 issue of The Molokai Dispatch]

By Catherine Cluett

Emanuela Vinciguerra, Virginia Espejo and Grant Schule display the fruits of their labor at Kumu Farms.

Molokai’s Kumu Farms has made a name for itself over the past 27 years. Shipping 14 thousand pounds of papaya and 4000 pounds of fresh herbs from the island every week is a testament of their productivity. Some of the fruit is sold to Whole Foods in Hawaii and some is shipped as far away as Chicago. But now, owner Grant Schule is expanding the organic farm to bring more fresh fruits and vegetables to local customers.

Forty of the Kumu Farm’s 120 acres are already certified organic. Thirty more will complete the lengthy certification process this year.  While Schule says papaya, bananas and herbs are still Kumu’s main crops, he and his staff have recently added tomatoes, beans, corn and zucchini to expand their local offerings.

“Adapting is part of sustainability,” says Schule. He explained the farm’s emerging goal is to serve Molokai’s needs for fresh produce.

Several years ago, Emanuela Vinciguerra, known to many as Manu, began frequenting Kumu Farms to get fresh herbs for her native Italian dishes. Her infectious enthusiasm for fresh, local produce, combined with her passion for education, caught Schule’s eye. He later offered her a job at Kumu Farms to help expand the business toward agro-tourism.

Schule and Vinciguerra transformed an old warehouse into a colorful salesroom. Posters featuring Kumu’s history as well as information and uses for the crops they grow now line the walls. Blushing tomatoes, fragrant herbs and juicy papayas are just a few of the tempting fresh offerings for local customers and tourists alike.

With the motto “From the field to your table,” Schule said he is always open to suggestions for what new produce customers would like to see on the table.

“Every time we come out with something new, people buy it right up,” he explained with pride. Continue reading

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Mother of Molokai

Hina sculpture finally settles.

[Appeared in the Nov. 12, 2009 issue of The Molokai Dispatch]

By Catherine Cluett

Molokai artist Alapa`i Hanapi stands before his sculpture, “Pu`ino Kolu o Hina,” at the blessing ceremony last week.

Cool and contemplative, Hina sits with closed eyes and an open hand. Her hair falls around her like the rich valleys of Molokai, and her garments ripple like cascading waterfalls. Before her rests a stone gourd which holds the power of rebuke and even death. But Hina’s pose is that of anticipation, not anger, and Molokai rests safe in her lap. Hina, the mother of Molokai, is home at last. Molokai, Nui a Hina.

The sculpture “Pu`ino Kolu o Hina,” carved by Molokai artist Alapa`i Hanapi has finally settled in its rightful place in the courtyard between the Molokai Public Library and the state buildings. In a blessing ceremony last Tuesday, the journey that began more than a decade ago was completed.

Hina began to take birth in 1994, when an advisory committee was formed by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to choose an artist for a sculpture for Molokai. They selected Hanapi.

A year and a half and lots of prayers later, Hanapi found a dense, flawless stone deep in the earth of Kamalo. The rock weighed nearly six tons.

“We broke a couple machines trying to lift her,” Hanapi laughed, describing the process of withdrawing the massive stone from the old Kamalo quarry. Continue reading

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Polynesian Ink

Tattooist Tricia Allen comes for Molokai book signing.

[Appeared in the May 12,2010 issue of The Molokai Dispatch]

By Catherine Cluett

Christopher Souloumiac of Positif Tattoo in Aubagne, France, freehanded this beautiful back-piece on Christophe in 8 sessions of approximately 5 hours each. For Christophe the tattoo symbolizes power, protection and harmony. Photo and caption courtesy of Tricia Allen.

Tricia Allen sits with the books she’s authored spread before her, pen in hand. A lei po`o rests atop her salt and pepper hair, her fair-skinned face curving in a mild-mannered smile. A couple of tattoos peak out of her Hawaiian print shirt. But you’d never guess by looking at her that Allen is a tattooist and expert on Polynesian tattoo history and art.

“It’s a mark that identifies who you are and where you’ve been,” Allen says of tattoos.

A Kane`ohe resident, Allen visited Molokai last Saturday for a book signing at Kalele Bookstore in Kaunakakai. Her most recent book, “The Polynesian Tattoo Today,” is a compilation of 216 photos representing the work of 73 artists from around the globe. The event attracted a generous audience, from local tattoo artists to “tattoo virgins,” curious to find out more.

“I’ve wanted to meet this woman for 15 years,” said Teri Waros, owner of Kalele Bookstore and Divine Expressions.

Creative Process
While her last book, “Tattoo Traditions of Hawaii,” delves more into the history and context of tattoos in Hawaii, “The Polynesian Tattoo Today” has very little text – a sure hit on your coffee table. It beautifully highlights the artists’ work itself.

“Lots of people just want to share their art and not write about it,” she explains. Continue reading

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Filmmaker to Feature Molokai High School

[Appeared in the June 4, 2009 issue of The Molokai Dispatch]

By Catherine Cluett

For filmmaker Jim Bryan, the creation of documentaries is a labor of love. And that’s exactly what drew him to make a film about Molokai High School to commemorate its 75th anniversary – for free.

Bryan is a screenwriter and producer for Hollywood, and that’s what pays the bills, he says. Before that, it was working as a journalist across the country for networks such as Fox and CNN, covering breaking stories from the Columbine tragedy to the Super Bowl.

“But there are still elements of the story that go beyond the six o’clock news,” says Bryan.

Filmmaker Jim Bryan sets up an interview with Molokai High School alumni Daniel Espaniola as part of a documentary to commemorate the school’s 75th anniversary.

That’s where making documentaries comes in – but for Bryan, “documentary” does not mean a historical chronology. He says instead it’s all about capturing the “local” on film – capturing the beauty of the moment that’s often lost when simply portraying a sequential series of events.

“It’s not a history project – it’s a historical perspective project,” explains Bryan. “What made life happen?”

About a year ago, members of the Molokai High School Alumni Association contacted Bryan as a fellow member of the Lions Club about an MHS DVD. Bryan had just made a film documenting the legacy of Hawaii Lions. To their surprise, Bryan volunteered to produce the Molokai film at no charge.

“Molokai has always fascinated me,” explains Bryan, who moved to Oahu 10 years ago. Continue reading

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West End Infestation

Kaluakoi swarming with bees.

[Appeared in the Oct. 2, 2008 issue of  The Molokai Dispatch]

By Catherine Cluett

For over a year, hum of bees on the Paniolo Hale Resort grounds has been as ubiquitous as your own heartbeat. But unlike your heartbeat, the presence of these honey bees is not a good sign, especially for resort resident manager James Murphy. “We have a bee infestation,” he says. And it’s a problem that’s beginning to cost the resort even its most loyal customers.

The bees are nesting in the walls of abandoned Kaluakoi Resort condo buildings, owned by Molokai Properties, Ltd. (MPL). The resort closed about ten years ago, says Murphy, and has since fallen into disrepair. The property is adjacent to Paniolo Hale, and bees are flying over to get water from Murphy’s lush grounds.

“Honey bees fly up to five gallons of water per day back to their hives,” he says. They use water to regulate the temperature of the hives, fanning water droplets with their wings to protect developing larvae from overheating.

Kaluokoi Golf Course, surrounding Paniolo Hale property, is also owned by MPL. The golf course was closed in April, along with Molokai Ranch. The bees, which used to get water from the irrigated course lawns, are now left with no water source. Drought conditions are also contributing to the problem, says Murphy.

He explains that deer used to use the golf course as a water source as well. Deer, desperate for moisture, are now pawing holes in the ground to reach Paniolo Hale’s water pipes, causing damage and sometimes even breaking them. Continue reading

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Masters Are Ready for Blast-Off

Molokai Canoe Club prepares for a historic race full of good times.

[Appeared in the Nov. 9, 2008 issue of The Molokai Dispatch]

By Catherine Cluett

Six men make their way home over rose-tinted waters, paddles splashing in unison, with the sunset at their backs. They pull their wa`a beside the darkening palms, and each grab a beer. “Practice is just starting,” they laugh.

These men are the two-year defending champions of the Master Blasters, a dual-sport event featuring paddling and drinking. They have prepared long and hard for both, and are ready to take the prize again on Saturday, Nov. 22.

“Molokai is the team to beat,” says supporter Luana Kaaihue. Twenty four teams from around the state registered for the race last year, and Molokai team members expect a similar turn-out this year.

“It’s a fun serious race,” laughs team member Ed Misaki. But there seem to be enough regulations to put Olympic rule-makers to shame. Continue reading

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