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Predicting the future….

This is the time of year when we begin pruning the farm . There are so many ways one can go about doing this. There is the Hawaiian style which after 8 years of farming we are learning more and more bout. The Hawaiian style prunes every third or fourth row of coffee completely,  those trees will be in full production in 4 years, and depending on how much light you want to bring in.  Or the pruning style of looking at each tree like a bonsai, leaving 3-4 verticles and getting rid of old growth. There is a lot more to this and every year the farmer is predicting what kind of coffee season we will have. We think this coming year is going to be a big one (thats what farmers think every year, right) so were are pruning lightly. Our farm is a mixture of Hawaiian style and the bonsai method as we constantly learn from the plants what they want, need, and are going to do. Aloha!Enjoy some Kona Rose Coffee Today.

Here is a great example of our coffee in bloom.  This is the Kona typica variety

Here is a great example of our coffee in bloom. This is the Kona typica variety

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKona snow is back !!  Now I know everyone on the mainland might not be so thrilled at the mention of snow ( especially after that “polar vortex” whatever that is!), but we are delighted to see the snow in Kona.  Of course I am talking about the coffee flowering which comes in thick and white this time of the year.  We’ve just finished the coffee harvest, (a small crop all over, so the Kona Rose is going to go fast this year) and we are glad to see the end as harvest season is always a hectic, hectic season.  But as soon as the first coffee blossoms come out we get excited all over again.  The air is delightful as these gardenias release their fragrance over acres and acres of coffeland. So no sooner has the old season ended than the new one begins and it looks to be a good year for coffee.

Typically we’ll get a bumper crop, then a decent year, and then a small year.  This was our small year so we are expecting a big harvest this coming fall!  (Now don’t get the idea we are counting chickens before they hatch.  A lot can happen between now and harvest 2014.  Let’s just say we are waiting to see…

Here are a few photos of the beautiful flowering on Mahina Mele Farm!

Kona Coffee harvest

Slapped on our rigged picking buckets on the 5yr old, 7 yr old, and 10 yr old and headed out with my husband to pick coffee. What a joy! Ripe plumb and beautiful red jewels awaited us in the early morning light.  This is what I think of when I think of christmas time. Coffee, 100% Kona Organic yummy coffee. Tried our Peaberry this am and I think its the finest coffee I have ever tried. Happy Holidays, Mahina Mele Farm

Hawaiian Macadamia Nuts and Kona Coffee

We are in the full harvest season. red lucous coffee berries being picked and macadmia nuts plopping tom the ground. Once picked the processing happens on the farm and shipped out immediately. The macadamia nuts are Raw , dehydrated at low temps, we also ahve organic macadamia nut butter and oil. Mahalo mahina mele farm

Mahina Mele farm

After one of the largest rainstorms we have had in years, the sky is so clear and the air is sweet. The fragrance of fruit blossoms and wet grass infiltrate the air. The sun is slowly drying us out as we live in a yurt with an outdoor kitchen. We have lived outdoors for about 8 years now, a part of the land with all the elements that present themselves. The wet and rainy, and hot and sticky, day and night. Does this connection with the land and the elements around us help us in our lives? I think so.Time for a cup of Kona Rose.

Mahina Mele Farm

Macadamias nut are falling and Im sitting in the dehydrating room, my office, at over 100 degrees. The coffee is also ripening and being processed. We are building another coffee drying deck, and getting ready to enter into the kona cupping contest. I love being a farmer and love what we are producing. Water I need to get some. Please try some of our amazing products.

Big aloha from Mahina Mele’s new WWOOFer

Alooohaa! My name is Lola Hylton and I am currently doing work-trade through the WWOOF Hawai’i program for Jason and Kollette Stith who own and operate Mahina Mele Farm, Kona’s largest certified organic macadamia nut farm, as well as the #1 macadamia nut processor on the Big Island! Not only are the wonderful Stith family farming mac nuts, they are growing, harvesting, and processing 100% certified organic Kona coffee. I will be posting once or more a week, documenting my experiences and adventures on this beautiful farm and this big, beautiful island.

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I am so grateful and excited to be back working the Earth on the magical island of Hawai’i. I was working on the windward side of the Big Island three months ago, in Pahoa, farming vegetables and supplying them to our local organic grocers and cafes around the Hilo area. This WWOOF will be my first time on the leeward side of the island in Kona, where the farming is much different than the wet, jungle-y farming in Pahoa.

Here at Mahina Mele, I have been helping Kollette pick the bright red and purple coffee cherries while the farm dogs, Hannah and Gypsy, trot along beside us. I can’t say I’ve ever done work that is remotely similar to harvesting coffee, but I am truly enjoying it! I have found myself daydreaming about the next time I’ll get to go out with the picking bucket strapped around my shoulders and the gancho (wooden hook used to lower the peaks of the coffee trees for easier harvesting) in hand. The plinking of coffee cherries hitting the bottom of the metal bucket is a very satisfying sound, I must say. The coffee trees on our farm are of the species Coffea arabica, with a handful of the trees belonging to the caturra variety that produces brilliant, golden cherries.
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We process all of our coffee by hand to ensure that it reaches you, the happy coffee-drinker, with all of it’s flavor and goodness intact. Twice or so an hour, we rake and turn the drying beans on our massive drying deck with hand-made tools–we like to keep our beans surrounded by good vibes from harvest to packaging.  And let me take a moment to say this: if you ever are presented with the opportunity to smell fresh-picked coffee cherries fermenting…do it. What a wonderful fragrance! It smells so much like a delicious and aromatic wine–truly sublime.
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As Kollette and I were ending our day of coffee picking, we were given a really special surprise by the Earth Mother.  I noticed something that definitely did not look like any sort of a coffee plant moving in one of the trees we were about to harvest from.  Upon closer inspection, we saw that it was a Jackson’s chameleon (Chamaeleo jacksonii) making it’s way up the trunk of the tree!  Kollette and I held him for awhile and took some photos with him since he, and his brilliant colors, brightened up this sunny day in Kona.
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Until the next post, big aloha and mahalo for reading!

Lola

Anthuriums on the Big Island with Kona Rose Coffee

We like a little R&R just as much as the next guy, but we usually take it with a bit of adventure.  So my son and I took a little jaunt through the woods to get some flowers  for mama.  Luckily for us we have a large chunk of virgin Hawaiian rainforest adjacent our farm.  I think it may be the last bit of intact forest at this elevation on the Big Island.  Most of the forest is higher up where the weather is cooler and wetter and thus less desirable to human inhabitants.  So we are lucky to have this bit of forest right next door.

red anthurium

red anthurium

 

I don’t think people realize how important wild spaces are particularly for farming.  Intact forests provides habitat for many beneficial species including lots of pollinators.  That is becoming more and more important as our honey bees are struggling to survive.  We lost all nine of our hives when the varroa mite and the small hive beetle took over the island.  We weren’t ready for that and lost our hives before we could get tooled up to save them.   We thought we were going to see a real drop in pollination of the mac nuts but that hasn’t been the case.   We are getting lots of other pollinators picking up the slack and their home is the forest next door.

Another interesting thing about the forest  is that it holds the moisture.   There is no getting around it, farming dries things out!  But a mature forest acts as a buffer and really helps the farm.  When you walk across the farm you can notice the change in moisture from the forest-side to the neighbors which is mono-cropped coffee. Their farm is much drier than ours and it is just right next door.   SO we are lucky to have the forest  beside us as far as farming goes.   But the perks continue as it is a wonderful place to explore.

Here's Asa amongst the anthuriums

Here’s Asa amongst the anthuriums

My son and I went out with our machetes ( Asa is only 4 and a half but he can swing a machete with the best of them!) and hacked a trail through the forest to a secret little spot called the anthurium grotto.   I think it was a lava tube that collapsed ( this island is honey-combed with lava tubes) and the jungle took over.  Someone must have planted the anthuriums originally, but they have definitely naturalized and are quite at home there.  We had a good time hiking and we pick a sackful to surprise Kollette when she got home!

anthurium grotto

anthurium grotto

anthurium from kona rose coffee

anthurium from kona rose coffee

Mountain apple (Syzygium malaccense) on Mahina Mele Farm 2013

Continuing on our fruit tour of  Mahina Mele Farm, here is one we love to eat.   The mountain apple. This fruit was one of the “canoe plants”, plants  that the Polynesians brought with them when they colonized Hawaii. They brought plants that were important to them of course and plants that could survive the voyage intact.    The mountain apple is native to Southeast Asia, check out the wiki link for more info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syzygium_malaccense.

I’ve attached some pictures of the flower which resemble in form so many other flowers we have here, the guava, jaboticaba, and ohia to name a few.  The fruit is pear shaped and is incredibly juicy and refreshing. It is a bland-tasting fruit but when it is fully ripe ( just before the birds get into them)  the skin has a cinnamon (think red hots) zing to it.  The kids love them and so do we!

mountain apple bloom

mountain apple bloom with young fruit behind

Beautiful Guava Blossoms

We have about 30 varieties of tropical fruit on the farm. There is almost always something ready to pick and eat straight from the tree. It is definitely one of the perks of Big Island living. Here are flowers of the guava tree (Psidium guajava). There are several wild varieties here in Hawaii but this one is a commercial strain and so produces much larger fruit with very few seeds. We’ll be enjoying guava from this flowering in about  6 weeks or so, towards the end of June.

Here is a link if you want to know more about guava http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/guava.html.

I know that they are delicious and the kids devour them (a real plus when they are in a picky stage)!

guava blossom

guava blossom

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