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In the Fields of Green

Dozens of farmers and enthusiasts plowed through a field of tall and broad-leaf plants rising from a paddy-like patch near Ho`olehua last Saturday morning. All were in search of a suitable variety of taro, one that could thrive in either the dry heat of Molokai’s west end or lush terrain of its east end.

Known as Molokai Taro Variety Field Day, participants got the chance to get their hands on more than 70 rare native Hawaiian taro varieties. The event, held at Molokai Agriculture Park, began with a cultural and informative discussion on taro, followed by the vegetative cutting.

“Our goal is to help perpetuate the plant and its cultural significance,” said Alton Arakaki, organizer and county extension agent for University of Hawaii – Maui College.

While some farmers attended to cut taro they would later plant at their farms to help support their economic well-being, others came to retrieve taro for its dietary benefits.

“For one thing, I love taro,” said participant Kaui Manera. “I love to eat it.”

Manera said its hard work to plant taro and make it grow, and hopes she found the right variety that will not only survive, but flourish.

“I also wanted to come out because I have a lot of respect for this farm,” she added. “I love this farm and all they do for the community.”

Arakaki said the plant’s survival rests on the shoulders of its caretakers.

“You can’t just put it in the ground and walk away,” he said. “It’s not in its natural habitat so people need to be it receives water nutrients.”

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