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Taro Variety Field Day 2013

UH CTAHR Molokai Extension News Release

Not too long ago, rice, pasta and bread were not a major part of our diet in Hawaii.  Instead, taro, or kalo, was the main source of food that provided dietary carbohydrate for Native Hawaiians.  They produced kalo on all the islands and on as many as 50,000 acres of the best upper and river valley lands in order to maintain the health of the population of 500,000 or more.  In order to improve their food security, Native Hawaiian developed more than 300 varieties of taro.

Today only about 70 of the varieties are left.  To provide education information on taro, University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH CTAHR) extension staff have conducted the Molokai Taro Variety Field Day for the past 20 years. In addition to education, it provides an opportunity for interested growers access to huli, vegetative propagation materials, of some of the rarest Hawaiian taro varieties to grow themselves.  After all, there is no such thing as taro seed packets on vegetable seed racks of garden stores.

The Molokai Taro Variety Field Day will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, at the Molokai Applied Research and Demonstration Farm at Maui Community College Farm in the Molokai Ag Park.  Activities will include presentations by Dr. Emmett Aluli, Miki`ala Pescaia, Penny Levin, Jerry Konanui, taro variety tasting, kalo cooking contest, and harvest your own taro variety.

For the cooking contest, entry forms can be obtained at the Ho`olehua Extension Service Office or UHMC, Molokai Farm (first right after Kumu Farms).  Completed forms must be turned in by 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Ho`olehua CTAHR office. No kalo, no problem! Five pounds of kalo will be provided per entry.  Contestants can pick up kalo on Thursday, Sept. 26 between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. at UHMC, Molokai Farm. Entries must be dropped off at the UHMC, Molokai Farm by 9 a.m. at the Taro Field Day.  The contest time is 10 to 11 a.m.

Dress for field conditions — covered footwear, hat, gloves, sun protection, and sunglasses.  Bring your own drinking water, digging and cutting tools, labels and marking pen to identify the kalo varieties you harvest.  Taro sap will stain your clothes.  Do not taste any parts of uncooked taro plants.

The field day is made possible by a grant from the Ceres Trust through E Kupaku Ka Aina – The Hawaii Land Restoration Institute in support of the important Hawaiian taro varieties perpetuation and study by the UH-CTAHR/CES Molokai Applied Research and Demonstration Farm, Hoolehua, Molokai.

For more information, please call 567-6929.


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