Did you know that more than 95% of plants and animals on Kauaʻi are not endemic and much of them threaten Kauaʻi’s delicate ecosystem? For 20 years, Waipā Foundation has developed its mission to malama ʻāina – care for the land and natural resources. The Foundation implements programs in the context of managing the ahupuaʻa of Waipā, which encompasses 1,600 acres, mauka to makai.
Hualani’s at Timbers Kauaʻi was proud to participate in MAKANA Waipā : Eat the Invasives this past Saturday, September 24th. This dinner series returned to the Garden Isle this year to raise awareness of invasive species, and raise funds for the Waipā Foundation to continue their important work of educating the community and nurturing the land. This year, in its fourth iteration, MAKANA Waipā continued the tradition of gathering the greater community to celebrate the abundance of our ʻāina and learn about our wahi (place).
Invasives are not all bad…they’re also delicious! Featured Chefs from Oahu and Kauaʻi came together to celebrate the bounty of Waipā and eat the invasives found on Kauaʻi and throughout Hawaiʻi. Some invasives found right here on Kauaʻi include strawberry guava, Kāhili ginger, Spanish needles, white ginger, wild amaranth, java plum, and non-endemic deer and boar.
Our own Chef Michael Young prepared a smoked taʻape dip with ʻulu crackers for the event. Taʻape, a blue-stripe snapper, is a beautiful fish which was introduced to the islands about 60 years ago in an effort to alleviate the pressure on the local fish population. At the time, uhu and other snappers were being over-harvested and became endangered, so taʻape was a welcome addition for fishermen. Unfortunately, the taʻape’s population has grown exponentially and theyʻve developed a nasty habit of taking over the areas where they live, impeding other sea life’s ability to thrive.
It’s hard to imagine, but the feral pig population on Kauaʻi far exceeds the human population. There is an estimated wild pig for every seven people on Kauaʻi, and the damage they do to farmlands, crops and local habitats is staggering. Pigs are not very neat “hunters,” and their search for food can cause massive amounts of damage to native plants and soil erosion as they dig for roots and insects to munch on. A single pig can destroy a good sized farm overnight, which is why it is so important to keep the population down to preserve our precious crops. With this in mind, Chef Alex prepared boar tacos with guava BBQ sauce and gorilla ogo(edible seaweed) salsa for the event.
Chef Michael weighed in on the importance of Waipā Foundation’s work to preserve our local ecosystem: “They bring a sense of place to the next level and this is my favorite event of the year. I am honored to be a part of it personally and professionally, and so thankful Timber’s is creating a relationship with the foundation to help carry on their mission.”
Mahalo to Chef Michael, the Waipā Foundation, and all of the culinary staff, volunteers, and community members that made this event such a success. We can’t wait for next year!
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