'Tis the season for invasive species
Can you believe it, the first batch of christmas trees is scheduled to arrive in our islands next week!
While many people will buy imported christmas trees and wreaths, the State Department of Agriculture is asking residents to buy local for the holidays and sponsored an event on Sunday to get their message out.
Here's a local version of the traditional Christmas wreath, one the many things people who attended this free event got to learn how to make.
The Ag Department and nursery industry teamed up to provide locally grown flowers and foliage for the event all part the Department's "Buy local, It Matters" campaign.
"The money that we spend with these small nurseries, the money stays in hawaii, and helps the economy," said Erick Tanouye, HI Floraculture and Nursery assistant.
Not only that, the Ag Department also worries about the invasive species that often hitch a ride aboard Christmas trees and other imported flowers and plants.
"It takes about a third of our resources just to clear the christmas tree containers. If they have the yellow jacket, we have to unload each one off and shake it out, and if it has slugs, each one gets a hot water bath," said HDOA plant quarantine coordinator, Carol Okada.
The invasive species threaten Hawaii's forests and local nurseries and farms.
"For example, one of the things we have in our foliage industry, which has impacted us is the introduction of the coqui frog," said Tanouye.
In an effort to combat invasive species, the Ag Department has a new biosecurity program with ten million dollars in state funding.
The money is being used to increase the inspectors at our ports and will support local farmers in growing flowers, plants and produce which we currently import.
"If we can grow more of eucalyptus cut foliage, and we don't have to import it, then we reduce the possible potential huge impact on our state's ohia forest," said Tanouye.
And just as importantly...
"When we produce something locally, it will probably last two times more than an import produce. number two, reducing carbon footprint, supporting local economy," Tanouye concluded.
And speaking of locally grown, Helemano Farms, which sells locally grown christmas trees on Oahu is opening its christmas tree farm the day after Thanksgiving.