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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tsunami Day!

A week and two days ago, there was a tsunami coming. The text messages began to arrive around 4:30AM – Steve came down shortly after to tell me what was up. We turned on the news and there it was: tsunami coming!

In my excitement I raced out the door and up the hill. Which is to say, I raced out the door, into my car, down A’o Hoku street and then was confronted with a line of traffic and came to a dead stop. The traffic was at a complete crawl. Literally every car (and most of us who live on Maui have at least one) was on the road, in a scurried shuffle out of the central valley, heading for high ground.

Travel to Kula must have taken 60 minutes, whereas with no traffic it usually takes about 30. During this luxuriated drive I had the chance to adjust to my surroundings. There was a couple standing on the side of the road in full beach attire, armed with blow-up inner tubes and lathering on sun tan lotion in big globs. For the first time in a while I noticed that the vine on Ace Hardware’s nursery had crept up the building wall. But the vine had nothing on the length of the line at the hardware store’s gas station. The line stretched half a mile down the road! And holy moly! I have never seen my little town so abuzz. Local twenty-somethings stood talking story with sixty year old men at the gas pump, trading stories about their respective Tsunami Day experiences. The store was bustling with activity.

Because I had by happy coincidence filled my tank the night before, I really had no reason to be at Ace Hardware at all. But because I was there (admittedly wanting to take part in the festivities) I decided to query the shopkeeper about their vermicomposters available. Unfortunately, Ace Hardware does not carry the kind of composter that I need – one that will sufficiently keep the vermis in and their castings out. (I don’t believe in making any living creature, earthworms included, live in their own poo).

So yes, if you are wondering, I have decided to support le au natural methods expounded by Hale Akua Farms and embrace the permaculture methodology of using earthworms for composting. After further research, I do believe that the contested red wiggler is welcome in my home (Maui). Under the right conditions, in the right vermicomposter in a sealed shed, these worms are a welcome asset to my organic farming efforts.

I had also hoped to pick up some plywood for my garden boxes, but the only kind they had was quite chemically treated and probably too flimsy to hold a great big amount of soil and water. So I put a call in to Uncle Eddie, who recently brought somebody on board at Sustainable Construction, LLC, who has his LEED AP and only sources FSC wood. He will certainly be able to help me pick out some good, clean, strong wood for my garden boxes…

In the end, the big wave never came. But if nothing else, I hope that last weekend's "tsunami" served as a wake up call for our community. Sometimes I wish that the boats would just stop coming. If they didn't come, we would be forced to look inward and make the necessary changes to become a self-sustaining community. On the most basic level, this means growing our own food.

But the grim reality is that our state and county governments are not structured to support or even allow growth in this direction. Instead, freight cargo for produce shipments is subsidized (and, if the proposed bill passes the legislature, will soon be untaxed as well), which forces our local farmers to compete on a global scale. It's murder! The most confounding thing about it is that these senators and representatives believe that they are doing good by subsidizing cargo shipments because it reduces the cost to the consumer. How do they not realize that they are killing our agricultural economy in the process? I suppose it is as the saying goes, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

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