The first day my husband and I arrived on Kauai’s north shore we were resting after meditation. Suddenly we became aware of two small eyes peering at us from the top of the stairs. Soon we were chatting with Micah, aged six, like we’d known him his whole life. Micah and his brother London, nine, were two of the best things about our trip–raised by their parents Dee Dee and Chris Almida, they were a constant source of information about surfing, herbal lore, native plants, and how to crack macadamia nuts.
And since we were staying in their treehouse guest room ( Mount Meru Hale airbnb), we were warmly welcomed into their family for ten days.
Kauai, it turns out is a sustainable living mecca. With growth carefully controlled, you get the feeling that the spirit of the island is running things instead of the tourists.
To teach us how the native Hawaiians carefully managed their ecosystem, Dee Dee and Micah took us on a tour of the Limahuli Garden and Preserve (a National Tropical Botanical Garden). Dee Dee, Micah and London do volunteer work there once a week to help preserve and restore native species. The terraces are incredibly beautiful, and connect the top of the mountain to the lowlands around the shore in one ecosystem called an ahupua‘a by the ancient Hawaiians.
One thing we were curious about–what were those trays of water sitting in their driveway?
It turns out that Chris and Dee Dee are adventuring into a sustainable way to raise food. Having left their farm on the big Island four years earlier, they were looking for a way to farm without the back-breaking work. Aquaponics, I learned, is a symbiotic system that combines the best of fish farming with hydroponics farming.
The fish waste feeds the plants, and the plants feed the fish, purify the water and keep the fish healthy. The result is high-density green crops AND tasty fish in a short time. The Almida’s have joined forces with other islanders to bring aquaponics to Kauai on a commercial basis. With limited farmland on the island, it’s a smart sustainable solution for every family’s need to grow their own fresh, organic food.