Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This weekend I had an assignment for my Hawaiian Language class which required me to go to Kahana Valley and work in the taro patch, which is where Hawaiians traditionally grew kalo, which is a starchy potato-like root that was then boiled or steamed and sometimes made into poi. Poi is purple and sticky like a paste; many people who try it don't like it (I LOVE it... I guess people like what they're raised to like). Taro is considered the "staff of life" for Hawaiians; many genealogies actually trace Hawaiians as the younger siblings of the taro plant. Cultivation of kalo requires extensive knowledge of the environment, sustainability, irrigation and agriculture, and it's a very labor-intensive crop. The labor part is where my classmates and I came in! At first I was made because it was on a SATURDAY, and I had to wake up at 5:45 am (on a Saturday... come on! You'd be mad too ) and drive all the way out to Kahana from town, which is like an hour or so if traffic is moderate. Bah humbug!

Even though I initially didn't want to go (on principle!), I learned so much and had fun! Here are some pictures; I didn't get to take that many because we were supposed to be working. I got really dirty and muddy; I fell into the irrigation ditch like a goober.

A view of the taro patches from a hill; the ditch I fell in is behind the clump of dark green trees in the far right corner

The flag of the Hawaiian Kingdom, now appropriated as the State flag; the Union Jack on there is to honor the friendship and international treaties between Great Britain and the Hawaiian Kingdom during the mid 1800s.

Opening the imu/underground earthen oven. Traditionally in Hawaiian culture men did all the cooking and preparation of food. When we went to Kahana, we had baked pork and chicken, banana, sweet potato, pineapple, white rice, freshly made poi, apple and coconut gelatin, and lots of other yummy foods. There was also kava, which is an intoxicating drink made from roots (but I don't like it so I didn't drink any).

Preparing laulau (baked pork wrapped in taro leaves)

My Professor pounding the taro into a paste for making poi. We are all sitting on huge mats woven out of lauhala/pandanus.


  1. Hello!!! Your blog is very interesting. I like very much it and your works. They are beautiful. Congratulations :)

  2. that is very cool & intersting!! i am glad you enjoyed your outing though you were apprehensive initially.the picture of the hill was lovely but i guess everything in hawai'i is beautiful:OD so jealous!

  3. Thank you for your interesting post, got to know more about Hawaii! The dolls you make are all so cute, love them! I hope you didn't hurt yourself from the fall though. Take care.

  4. Awsome! I would LOVE to do this with my family. Is this open to tourists? :) Congrats on your DC trip. How exciting! I enjoy your posts about Hawaiian culture just as much as I enjoy your amigurumis. Very informative.

  5. An educational post! SO COOL!! I did not know that much info about Taro...I've only known it to be a flavor for our bubble tea (mine always with tapioca pearls!). Thanks for the info! I also love all your crafty work, so cute and adorable!

  6. I'm so glad you guys like this post! I guess it just goes to show you... never make a judgment about doing anything before you've tried it! I think *Kristine* as far as this being available to tourists; it's rarely available to people who live in Hawai`i; that's how urbanized it really is now! You might want to look into Kaala Farms in Waianae the next time you visit Hawai`i; they may have a program that allows people to work in the lo`i. Cheers!


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