Establishing "Bush Tucker" in Hawaii

Final report for FW20-370

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2020: $22,870.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2021
Host Institution Award ID: G274-20-W7900
Grant Recipient: Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Ken Love
Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers
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Project Information

Abstract:

Hawaii owes much of its agricultural sustainability and economic successes to Australia with its small fruit farms, new varieties of fruit crops and development of new production approaches.  Commodities such as Queensland nut (macadamia), Hawaii’s main export avocado (Sharwil), Blackgold Jackfruit and newer fruit crops such as finger limes are developing as an economic boon for Hawaii’s growers. The domestication of previously wild edible crops referred to as “Bush Tucker” are traditional aboriginal foods.  Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) members have expressed a desire to learn what other crops might be beneficial for farm resiliency, economic and environmental sustainability.

Preliminary research and interactions with local chefs has shown that some of the“bush tucker” fruits have tremendous potential in Hawaii both in culinary applications and as value-added product ingredients.

This project proposes to clone and distribute trees of Ooray (Davidsonia pruriens), Midgen berry (Austromyrtus dulcis), Finger limes (Citrus australasica), Lemon aspen (Acronychia acidula), and Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora). The project will collaborate with American Culinary chefs to evaluate the fruit already producing in Hawaii and develop special dishes and value added products. This would include finger limes, Ooray, and Midgen berries.  Additional germplasm of these species and Australian selections would be brought into Hawaii, following USDA-APHIS protocols, in seed form, then grown out at seven collaborator locations along with the already cloned trees mentioned above. This project will add to grower economic sustainability through diversification, providing options for value added products and have potential for large scale commercial commodity following the example of Macadamia.

The expedancy at which this  project was completed was in part due to an extremely good crop year. In 2019 the "mother repository" had 32 inches of rain and in 2020  we are up to 101 inches which is quite rare for this part of Hawaii. The pandemic also made travel and other projects impossible to perform so more time was available for this project and we were able to  clone and distribute plants much faster than originally anticipated., 

 

 

 

Project Objectives:
  1. Prepare trees for each of seven locations which includes cloning those already in Hawaii and obtaining additional seed or plant material from Australia.

In addition to the above, we were able to produce hundreds of extra trees that were distributed to members. A good crop year enabled sufficient  fruit to be given to chefs and value added product producers. 

  1. Distribute trees to each repository location. Three at each location will be planted while seeds and other material from Australia will be grown out by the PI for later distribution.

Trees were sent to each location although in some cases meetings  were not permitted due to the pandemic. The trees for this locations on Kauai and Hilo  are being help by the repository manager until such time they can be put in the ground.

  1. Obtain and distribute fruit for testing to each chef and value added product collaborator.

Ooray puree and finger limes were distributed to a dozen chefs and value added producers to experiment with. When the pandemic closed hotels in Hawaii, some chefs were unable to complete their roll while others came up with additional uses for the  products.  Arguably in Hawaii chefs are the growers best customers.  The adoption of ooray onto major  hotel menus like the four seasons and Kohanaiki promise growers a valuable market for the  future. Products produced from test fruit provided by this project include fingerlime sugar & salt and fingerlime  guacamole. Ooray, jam, jelly, syrup, selzer water, reductions, curry base, vinegar, hot sauce and meat sauces for lamb and venison.

  1. Monitor tree health and growth at each location. Note differences due to climatic conditions.

Trees were monitored on each island at HTFG repositories and a few private farms. On Kauai and in Hilo in heavy rain areas no supplemental irrigation was needed although on Kauai the irrigation is in place in case of the occasional dry spell.  At locations in Kona irrigation is in place and in some instances used briefly (8 minutes per day with 1/2 and gallon per hour emitters) in other cases due to the abnormal  rainfall year no irrigation was supplied to finger limes but was supplied to lemon aspen, midgen berry and magenta lily pilly (Syzgium sp). 

Maui had a lengthy dry spell and irrigation supplied or in some case s  deep watering on a biweekly basis.  Molokai and Lanai have irrigation in place and usd as needed.  Over the course of the project no unusual temperatures were reported. 

  1. Prepare extension publication that will be available free online with a limited print run for distribution at the HTFG annual conference and other meeting..

Both publications have been uploaded in conjunction with this report.

  1. Discuss project at annual conference. This discussion will focus on project improvement and the sharing of production technologies, observations and marketing avenues.

 

Timeline:

 

Month

Action / Objective

Responsible person

1

Review plan

Ken Love / Dr Robert Paull

2

Prepare trees for locations

Ken Love

2

arrange for seeds/ germplasm to be shipped from Australia

Peter Salleras / Ken Love

3

Have trees inspected / shipped to each location

Ken Love

4

Planting and meeting Oahu

Noe Neumann

4

Planting and meeting Kauai

Dave Whatmore / Rob Rosen

5

Planting and meeting Molokai

Viola Mundrick Wichman

5

Planting and meeting Lanai

Dave Embrey

5

Planting and meeting Maui

Jordan Longman

6

Planting and meeting Honomu Hawaii

Brian Lievens

6

Planting and meeting Honaunau Hawaii

Chantel Chung

7

Monitor and gather data on tree conditions.

Ken Love and all island collaborators

9

Gather fruit for chefs and producers.

Ken Love

9

Distribute fruit and collect data and recipes

Ken Love

9-10

Hold annual conference to discuss project with growers

Ken Love

11

review data with TA prepare & distribute extension publication

Ken Love / Dr. Robert Paull

12

write final report

Ken Love / Dr Robert Paull

 

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Chantal Chung - Producer (Educator)
  • Dave Embrey - Producer
  • Brian Lievens - Producer
  • Jordan Longman - Producer
  • Ken Love - Producer
  • Viola Mundrick-Wichman - Producer
  • Noe Neumann - Producer
  • Dr. Robert Paull, pHD - Technical Advisor
  • Rob Rosen - Producer
  • Peter Salleras - Technical Advisor - Producer (Educator)
  • Dave Whatmore - Producer

Research

Materials and methods:
  1. Prepare trees for each of seven locations which includes cloning those already in Hawaii and obtaining additional seed or plant material from Australia.

First priority will be the three species, Ooray (Davidsonia pruriens), Midgen berry (Austromyrtus dulcis) and Finger limes (Citrus australasica). These species will be prepared then shipped in soilless media to each of the locations.  Additional species include in the second round will be Lemon aspen (Acronychia acidula) and Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) which will be acquired from Australia following USDA-APHIS protocols. Other species with potential will also be considered if seen as also having potential for Hawaii.

The species mentioned above were shipped to Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Oahu, and Kauai, They were given to the Big Island based  repositories for planting as well. Instead of the Backhousia, we were able to obtain Syzygium paniculatum; the magenta lily pily,. Acronychia acidula is currently being grown out for distribution at a later date. 

Most of the trees have been planted with the exception of Hilo and Honaunau repositories due to pandemic restrictions on groups  meeting on Hawaii Island but are being grown out for inclusion at a later date.

  1. Distribute trees to each repository location.

Once trees are established and recovered from transplanting, they will be shipped to each of the seven repository locations on Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Honomu and Honaunau. When ready, the PI will work with the local repository manager to establish a date where teams on each island can plant the trees and hold an educational workshop on the trees and bush tucker fruit.

All the trees have been distributed and planted out with the exception of Hilo and Honaunau where plants are being grown out in pots for later post pandemic planting. All face to face workshops have been prohibited for groups over 10 but the bush tucker fruits have been discussed in various presentations put together for an online October zoom presentations on https://www.htfg.org/2020-conference in the New Cultivars and  Species and the project produced publications are available under Bonus Materials section.

 

  1. Obtain and distribute fruit for testing to each chef and value added product collaborator.

As it is virtually impossible for Hawaiian growers to accurately predict when these rare fruits will become available The PI will monitor all trees that HTFG has knowledge of in order to obtain fruit for distribution to 3 chefs and 3 value added product producers.

Ooray and Finger limes were given to the chefs at Four Seasons Hualalai,  Royal Kona Resort and Palamanui Culinary School. The other fruits have not produced in quantity to distribute yet.  Products will also give to value added product producers at Hawaiian Goodness, Rourk Regan and Love Family Farms, the PI's family farm  produces over 150 products. Products made include  flavored sugars, salts as well as jelly, syrups, glazes and in mixed fruit compotes.  Chefs have said that they  want to purchased  ooray and more finger limes  when restaurants reopen. 

 

  1. Monitor tree health and growth at each location. Note differences due to climactic conditions.

The PI will record growth rate and condition based on data supplied by each location manager. Rain and or irrigation data will be included. Having three trees on each island will enable HTFG members to experiment with fertilizer and other inputs to see how growth might differ.

Most growing data is included in the publications with this report but briefly, Ooray growers roughly 1 foot per year in all climates and elevations. in wet areas like kauai it was advise that more amounts of cinder  should be used so that  water drains well. Irrigation on average is at 1/2 gallon per hour  for 10 minutes, every morning during normal times but in  heavy rain times this was turned off or the timer turned to as low as  30% of normal or 3 minutes.

8-8-8  was used at some locations, 14-14-14 at others and  mulch with foliar compost tea at others. No significant differences were found. Detailed information is found in the extension publications with this report.

  1. Prepare extension publication.

The PI will review data and draft a publication following the University of Hawaii format. The publication will be reviewed within the university system as all as by our Australian collaborators.

The extension publications  have been finished and are with this report as well as in the bonus materials section of htfg.org

  1. Discuss project at annual conference.

The publications will be reviewed by the technical advisor and other familiar with these crops. The final publication for each fruit will be released at the conference at the conclusion of the project. 

As  real time conference was prohibited due to  covid,  the results were discussed in a recorded  zoom video on htfg.org 

 

 

 

Research results and discussion:

With an unusually good  year for  Ooray production,  we were  able  to  produce  close to 500 plants with 400 being distributed  to members and to others. The ooray and  midgen  and finger limes  were used   as  incentives for  participation in other projects such as  work days are  repositories  or  given   away with the purchase of other trees  at  the HTFG  nursery. This  program  continues   distribution with  additional  trees  produced through the project including magenta  lily  pilly (Syzgium p.)  Normally, Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers   (HTFG), holds a yearly conference where   this   project would  have  been discussed  but given the  covid  situation and  state rules limiting groups to   fewer than  10 the  conference  which became virtual includes  the publications online, created thanks to this  project. At the  bottom  of

https://www.htfg.org/2020-conference   these  publications are available.  They will also be  hosted  by the University of Hawaii  once  the  university reopens --  post  pandemic. 

Other pandemic   effects prevented  a  trip  to  Australia to  collect additional   plant   material   and  seeds. Instead teh   project as  able to  receive some by mail with  proper permits  and from Fla. which have been grown out  and distributed  to  HTFG repository  sites on each  HAwaiian island.  Once established,  growers  on each island will  have access to the material. This includes 1800  members  of  HTFG.

Ooray (Davidsonia puriens)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location

Irrigation /rainfall

Emitters used

Average growth

Fertilizer & frequency

Notes

Kauai

86cm rain

none

10 inches per year

none

 

Oahu

46cm rain

none

10 inches per year

14-14-14 to start – 0-10-10 flowering

5-1-1 foliar if needed. Sometimes  2-4-3

 

Molokai

½ gal per hour

Used every other day ½ hour but turned off during rainstorms.

8 inches per year

14-14-14

 

Lanai

15.5 cm in 3 months

“Hand watered a few times”

9 inches per year

14-14-14

2 times per year

 

Maui

43.9 cm rain

1 gal per hour emitter 3x per week. Additional days  added in  drought times

10 inches per year

Bone meal and worm compost  2 times per year. Foliar compost tea as needed

 

Honomu

335cm rain 2019

none

12 inches per year

Slow release 14-14-14  once a year

 

Kona

1 gallon per hour used first year, ½ gal  emitter for 2 to 3 years. 1 gal hr. 15’ Spray covering 2 trees

Daily for 10 minutes in all cases

12 inches per year

Handful of 8-8-8  4 times per year.  

2019 totaled  32 inches of rain and 103 from Jan to Nov.1, in  2020

*Some Ooray trees gave fruited in 12 years while others here in less than 5.  Some fruit under the canopy while others out of the bark when the tree is notched. Notching and stress after the tree is well established has proved beneficial in increasing production.

Fingerlimes 

(Citrus australasica, F. Muell.)

ca, F. Muell.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location

Irrigation /rainfall

Emitters used

 

Average growth

Fertilizer & frequency

Notes

Kauai

86cm rain

I gallon per hour during dry season or when needed

 

4 inches per year

5-2-6

 

Oahu

46cm rain

none

 

 6 inches per year

14-14-14 to start 

5-1-1 foliar 

 

Molokai

½ gal per hour

Used every other day ½ hour but turned off during rainstorms.

 

5 inches per year

10-10-10

0-0-21 kmag

 

Lanai

15.5 cm in 3 months

“Hand watered a few times”

 

7 inches per year

14-14-14

2 times per year

 

Maui

43.9 cm rain

1/2 gal per hour emitter 4x per week. Additional days  added in  drought times

 

 6 inches per year

Bone meal and worm compost  2 times per year. Foliar compost tea as needed

 

Honomu

335cm rain 2019

none

 

 4  inches per year

Slow release 14-14-14  once a year

 

Kona

1 gallon per hour used first year, ½ gal  emitter for 2 to 3 years. 1 gal hr. 15’ Spray covering 2 trees

Daily for 10 minutes in all cases but  during  heavy rain periods  timers are  turned to 80% of normal= 8 minutes per day

 

4 inches per year 5 to 8  in subsequent years

Handful of 8-8-8  4 times per year.  

0-0-50 is used 2 times per year to sweeten citrus

2019 totaled  32 inches of rain and 103 from Jan to Nov.1, in  2020

 

Additional Notes.

Lemon Aspen

Acronychia acidula F.Muell.

Seeds are quite variable two pots of seeds from the same fruit with the same soil mix, gave a four-foot plant  in 14 months while the next plant was 6 inches in that time. We have been unable to figure the difference.

Midyim (Midgen)

Austromyrtus dulcis (C.T.White)

While the shrubs produce copious amounts of attractive white flowers, less  than one percent form a white blueberry type fruit. This same problem exists with test plantings in Fla and Calif.

Researchers suspect that all of these plants originated from the same plant genetics.  Our plan is to visit Fisher Island Australia in order to obtain additional seeds.

Magenta Lilly Pilly

Syzygium paniculatum Gaertn,

While common in parts of the US mainland as an ornamental, it is rarer to find in Hawaii. Cuttings have been rooted and given to the HTFG repository sites, but growth is slow, and, in some cases, additional cuttings were made available due to  heavy rainfall.

Participation Summary
1800 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

10 Consultations
2 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
3 On-farm demonstrations
2 Online trainings
25 Tours
2 Webinars / talks / presentations
25 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

254 Farmers
15 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

HTFG will hold its 30th annual conference in Sept. of 2020 where the project will be introduced to members and the media.  At the 2021 conference updates will be give and a PowerPoint prepared showing trees at each location.  Prior to this, at each of the seven locations,  HTFG chapter members will be encouraged to assist at the plantings of the trees in the repository system and a meeting will be held to explain what the trees require so they can assist the local collaborator in insuring tree health.  The PI has already started to clone the trees needed as it takes some time for them to achieve maturity.  The PI and TA will prepare a University of Hawaii Extension publication covering bush tucker fruit in Hawaii that will be released at the end of the project. HTFG maintains a facebook page for each chapter as well as a statewide page with over 6000 members.  Regular updates will be posted as the project progresses.

Learning Outcomes

100 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation

Project Outcomes

25 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
25 Farmers intend/plan to change their practice(s)
14 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

Using  a number   of the bush tucker fruit plants as an incentive   for  participation enabled us to distribute about 400 trees. The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) nursery is open to members and the  public  each  Saturday. Trees were given to participants in  the work trade  program each  week as an additional  bonus. Visiting chefs  would  discuss using the  fruit with those on  site almost weekly nd continue to do so. This on-going effects of this project will last for  some  years to come as  other trees become available,  The Pandemic and state  laws  prohibit  more than 10 people on site so instead the program continues weekly with this  limitation. Similar programs  on other Hawaiian islands at HTFG repositories are less frequent than Kona but have taken place on Maui,  Molokai, Kauai and  Oahu. A  smaller gathering on Lanai had members assist with planting  4   of the bush tucker trees.

Discussions  with the growers  through  HAwaii Master Food Preservers  yielded member experiments with Ooray and Finger  limes  in  producing a  number of value  added projects which, in  two  cases,  have peaked  the interest of Whole Foods. It becomes a matter of time before a   sufficient quantity of fruit can be  produced in order to have  products for distribution. Within the next 2 or 3 years there will  be Ooray and fingerlime products in the  local market.  With a number of   growers planting  fingerlimes in  quantity, the USDA  has    taken an interest  and  now developing an  export protocol and pest  risk assessment   that will  eventually  enable growers to  ship fingerlimes to the US Mainland. 

Success stories:

A  producer of value added products in Kona produced  fingerlime salt and  sugar   which   is beings old  at a local farmers market. The producer is  now working with dried and pickled Ooray which they hope to  be able to sell soon.   The   project PI   has produced other  samples of  jellies and syrups with project  fruits and  has given them to chefs.  Chefs were  given fruit to work with and asking  for more  when tourists  are allowed back   into  Hawaii.  The project has frozen    over  80  cups of fruit in anticipation of providing puree to chefs. 

 

Recommendations:

The use of  free trees  generated by the project  enabled  greater  participation in  HTFG events.  ALthoughj these events and other functiions were limited due to  the  pandemic, the frquency of weekly meetings eventually reached great numbers of partivipants than if there was  one   general meeting.  Growers  knew  and  continue to know they can visit weekly in Kona or monthly in other  locations in order to  discuss and better understand bush   tucker  and other unusual fruits. 

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.