Island of Water buffalo

Don Heacock is a lot of things. He’s just retired from 40 years as an aquatic biologist with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. He’s an advocate for sustainable agriculture that cultivates things like yerba mate, awa and taro alongside tilapia aquaponic projects on his 25-acre Lihue farm, called Kauai Organic Agroecosystems.

It’s a long drive down a steep, dirt road to get to KOA Farm. A high, wooden bridge takes visitors out to the kalo, or taro, lo‘i, and to the food forest-style collection of avocado, rambutan, Thai longan, ulu, papaya, coconuts, macadamia nuts, banana — just to name a few.

Walk through the taro, past some fruit trees and habitats for Muscovy ducks and free-range chickens, and you’ll find Heacock’s new pride and joy, though: three water buffalo calves.

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Internationally studying seals

Understanding fertility is paramount to understanding the real status of the endangered Hawaiian monk seals, researchers say. And new research out of Scotland could help inform ongoing projects in Hawaii.

Led by the Seal Mammal Research Unit at the University of St. Andrews, the newly released study was done on two populations of gray seals in the United Kingdom, one near North Rona and one at the Isle of May.

Basically, it helped fill in missing data on breeding patterns by tracking body-mass changes in captured pup-and-mother pairs.

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Kauai’s Koloa going strong

Strong wetland management on Kauai has led to a preserved population of pureblood Koloa maoli ducks, according to new research.

These little brown ducks are unique in that they only exist in Hawaii, but the ducks have been crossbreeding with introduced or feral mallard ducks, resulting in hybrids on Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Hawaii Island.

Kim Uyehara, a biologist who works with the ducks at the Kauai National Wildlife Refuge Complex, was worried the Koloa ducks on Kauai were starting to intermingle as well.

So she teamed up with Caitlin Wells, postdoctoral fellow and researcher at Colorado State University, to investigate. Recently, the duo published a study using two decades of research and detailing their findings — that the population is still pure.

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Peace, healing and Pepper Sauce

Shrin Hunt has a heart as sweet as her name and a fire as spicy as the pepper sauce she sells worldwide, made out of a special Hawaiian chili plant in her yard.

Originally from Iran — “shirin” means “sweet” in Farsi — Hunt has been living on Kauai for more than 20 years and has been a businesswoman with many hats for longer than that — she says she’s in the business of facilitating transformation in every way, shape and form.

For about 18 years, she’s carried the name “Orchid Angel” and still maintains small business, tending to orchids and consulting with a handful of clients.

But that’s just one of Hunt’s hats. She and her husband also run a nonprofit that supports local and international humanitarian projects and a global peace movement that aims to change the mindset of mankind and put an end to war on the planet. Continue reading “Peace, healing and Pepper Sauce”

Farm-to….Everywhere

Hawaii is leading the nation in the effort to serve farm-fresh food in school lunches, according to research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Farm to School Network.

And though those organizations have been dishing out kudos to Hawaii lawmakers in the new report, those integral in the effort are more focused on how they want to grow the program.

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