Tropical Gardening Helpline: 4-23-17

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Terry asks: I’m a new farmer in Kona and wonder how to connect with experienced farmers and experts who might be able to give me some good advice.


Terry asks: I’m a new farmer in Kona and wonder how to connect with experienced farmers and experts who might be able to give me some good advice.

Tropical Gardener Answer: West Hawaii has an excellent University of Hawaii Extension office located in Kainaliu. Andrea Kawabata is the farm advisor. She is a wealth of information on growing coffee, tree crops and other agricultural products in Kona. She can be reached at 322-4892 or by emailing

Andrea and lots of experienced farmers will be at the 10th annual Coffee Expo this coming Friday. The free event is sponsored by the Kona Coffee Farmers Association. You could join the association and meet other members while making lots of agricultural connections at the expo.

This event is the largest of KCFA’s educational events and it is always well attended. It starts Friday at 10 a.m. at the Old Kona Airport Pavilion in Kailua-Kona. Lots of local farmers come to see some of the latest agricultural equipment, products and services and talk story with fellow farmers and suppliers.

More than 30 vendors and service providers will have booths at the event with lots of products and information to offer. You can talk one-on-one with Department of Agriculture representatives, crop insurance agents and folks selling packaging and processing equipment and supplies. You can also get some farming and gardening advice from representatives from FarmWorks Hawaii and our local Master Gardeners. The complete list of vendors and service providers is on the KCFA website (

KCFA President Suzanne Shriner will start off the full schedule of speakers at 10 a.m. followed by six other experts in their fields. Robbie Hollingsworth from USDA-ARS (PBARC) will discuss the latest methods for coffee berry borer control. Andrea Kawabata, our local UH CTAHR extension agent, will offer information on raising and releasing the flat bark beetle, a predator of the CBB. Kay Dixon from KCFA will discuss unique coffee roasts. An organic certification Q&A will follow with Sarah Townsend from International Certification Services Inc. At 1:15 p.m. Melanie Bondera from Kanalani Farms will present her knowledge and experience about farming without pesticides followed by Bonnie Lind who will discuss ways that crop insurance can help manage agricultural risks. For more information on the event and speaker times go to

If you feel you need a personal on-site consult on farming or landscaping issues, you can call Agro Resources at 885-6311 or learn more about them at FarmWorks Hawaii is a team of experienced farmers that also offer consulting services. You can reach them at 328-2441 or check them out on their website at

The Kohala Center also offers classes and workshops. They have a series of four over the summer that are free and open to the public. More information on these will be in next week’s column but you can go to anytime and check them out.

With all these resources available, you surely can get some good agricultural advice.

Email plant questions to for answers by Certified Master Gardeners. Some questions will be chosen for inclusion in this column.

Gardening Events

Monday to Saturday: “Coffee Cupping Entries” Drop off your coffee at the UH CTAHR, Kona Extension Office in Kainaliu at 79-7381 Mamalahoa Highway. Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entries can also be mailed to Greg Stille, Monarch Coffee Farm, 74-5029 Lawaia Pl., Holualoa, HI. 96725. For questions about the cupping competition, contact: Greg Stille at (808) 280-5603 or write Another contact is David Gridley at 808-280-1623 or More information plus registration forms and fees are available at

Saturday: “Work Day at Amy Greenwell Garden” from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meet at the Garden Visitor Center across from the Manago Hotel in Captain Cook. Volunteers will be able to help with garden maintenance and are invited to bring a brown bag lunch. Water and snacks provided. Call Peter at 323-3318 for more information.

“KCFA Coffee Roasting Workshop” Session 2: 10:30 a.m. to noon. Session 3: 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Hala Tree coffee farm in Captain Cook. Free to KCFA members, $10 for non-members. Advanced reservations required. Contact or for information or to register.

Farmer Direct Markets

Wednesday: “Sunset Farmers Market,” 2 p.m. to sunset at the north makai corner of the Kmart parking lot

Wednesday &Friday: “Ho’oulu Farmers Market,” 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sheraton Kona Resort &Spa at Keauhou Bay

Friday: “Pure Kona Market,” 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Amy Greenwell Garden in Captain Cook

Saturday: “Keauhou Farmers Market,” 8 a.m. to noon at Keauhou Shopping Center

“Kamuela Farmer’s Market,” 7 a.m. to noon at Pukalani Stables

Sunday: “Pure Kona Green Market,” 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Amy Greenwell Garden in Captain Cook

Tuesday–Saturday: “U-Pick greens and produce,” 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Tropical Edibles Nursery, Captain Cook

Plant Advice Lines



Tuesdays &Thursdays: 9 a.m. to noon at UH-CES in Kainaliu, 322-4892

Mondays, Tuesdays &Fridays: 9 a.m. to noon at UH-CES at Komohana in Hilo, 981-5199 or

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