Fruit Growers Featured Farmer
HTFG Molokai Chapter News Release
Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion. The new Molokai Chapter is made up of members who are gardeners, farmers and interested community members who meet monthly to share ideas about marketing venues to promote their products. Meetings are held the first Monday evening of every month at Lanikeha Center in Ho`olehua. The next meeting is Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m.
This month’s featured farmer is HTFG’s member Viola Mundrick-Wichman of Ho`olehua. She is a Master Food Preserver who has been trained to process value added (fresh-cut) fruit like dehydrated bananas, papayas and mangos. The five-acre homestead farm, Kuulei Mahiai, is certified organic and was established in 1997 with her husband, Weldon Wichman. Her main crops are citrus including lemon, lime, tangerine, ruby grapefruit, and papaya and banana. Several secondary crops include jackfruit, soursop, cacao, lychee, mountain apple, sugar cane and mango, providing abundant variety in her orchard. Her products are sold at Kumu Farms, the Fruit Stand just before the plumeria farm and at the Saturday market in Kaunakakai.
Viola is the 4H leader for the Clover Lopers Horsemanship Club for gymkhana (children’s equestrian skills) in Ho`olehua. Monsanto cleared an adjoining five acres for gymkhana as a community service project. The farm hosts 4H kids amidst a menagerie of rescue horses, geese, ducks, chickens, turkeys, beehives, dogs and cats.
In the beginning years of her farm, Viola recalls she and her husband camping on the homestead until a structure was built. Senator Inouye was credited for an agricultural program that provided startup trees and Viola thankfully acknowledges his contribution to her orchard.
The challenges of birds and wind accounts for 98 percent loss of flowers and fruit. Trees strategically planted for windbreak and mulch have grown in after 12 years on Viola’s farm and are now providing increased yield.
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