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Agriculture and Digital Media

KOHO’IA Bridge
Three Technical Advances for the Sustainable Agriculture

In 1778 when Captain James Cook and his crew landed on the Island of Hawaiʻi, it was the first contact that the Hawaiian people had ever had with western culture. Before
this point, Hawaiians had been living in seclusion on these remote islands for hundreds of years. Throughout this time, the ancient Hawaiians were able to adapt and evolve
their techniques of farming to optimize the diverse ecosystems that make up Hawaiʻi. A common observation of foreigners who visited Hawaiʻi in the years after 1778 was
that there was large scale agriculture and farming that was so productive it provided for thousands of Hawaiians. The population of Hawaiʻi before western contact (pre
1778) is estimated as high as 980,000 people. Today, the current population of Hawaiʻi is close to 1,400,000 people. Before shipping container, airplanes, grocery stores
and fast food restaurants ever reached the Hawaiian Islands. the Hawaiian people were able to feed close to a million people, all from resources they cultivated within the
There are three main technological advances that are awarded for the success of Hawaiian agriculture in pre-contact Hawaiʻi. The first, the construction and cultivation
techniques in loko iʻa or fishponds. The second, systematic dry-land farming. Finally, the development of terraces or loʻi for the farming of kalo (taro). With these three
technologies the ancient Hawaiians were able to feed a population that is close to the current population of Hawaiʻi. Today, much of the food that we see in stores and
restaurants is imported from the continental U.S. and other foreign countries, Hawaiʻi is no longer self sufficient as it once was many years ago.


The Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean. Most of our food and energy arrived to our shores by ships or planes. After a huge solar storm, which no one was prepared for, the islands are cut off from the supply chain. There is enough food in the stores to last for 7 days, but the power is down, and tensions are running high. Your unique knowledge, and skills can help your family and community become sustainable and survive this disaster. With your guidance, Hawaii will thrive, but your knowledge will be tested in the coming weeks. Good luck, and remember the future needs you to not just give your opinion but to give the your ideas and lead the way into the unknown.

After a long day at school, and with a backpack full of books, you finally get home. No one else is there, which is a little strange, but no matter. Even stranger, the microwave isn’t working so you have to make a sandwich. After, you put your feet up on the coffee table and grab the remote. You click the power button, but nothing happens. Click…click….click…nothing. The TV is plugged in, so what is going on. You pull your phone out of your pocket to text your friend, “Dude, is your power out?” and touch send, but the network is down. Clearly, something is wrong. So you go to the porch, to wait for everyone to come home. But before you can sit down, your neighbor is standing under the mango tree. He is old, and his straw hat shades his eyes. He yells to you from across the yard. “You know what’s happened don’t you?” This is when you find out that your whole world has changed. While you were sitting in your classroom today, there was a massive geomagnetic storm, the solar particles from the flares have blow out giant transformers and brought the high-tech infrastructure of modern life to a grinding halt.

It has been two weeks since all power and communications capabilities went down. No new food has been shipped to the islands, but your family, thanks to your incredible resourcefulness is doing fine. They have planted a
Bees: The Great Pollinators

Silence of the Bees (PBS Film) FULL EPISODE

Bees are among one of the most important species on the planet. Throughout the all the continents bees preform a job called pollination. Pollination is the processes in
which enables plants to produce seeds, berries, and fruit. The process of pollination happens when pollen from one individual of a plant species is transferred to another
plant of the same species. There are different kinds of pollination, they include animal pollination, wind pollination, and self pollination. Out of the Earth’s thousands of plants
species that use pollination for reproduction, three quarters of those species require pollination from animal pollinators, such as bees, birds, mammals, and other insects. As
bees fly from flower to flower they collect pollen on their hind legs, depositing small amounts of it on each flower they visit. The bees then take the pollen back to their hive
as food and honey is made as byproduct of the pollen harvesting. Bees are responsible for the pollination of many of our food resources such as fruit trees, vegetable
plants, and wheat grass. Without the help of bees these crops would not be able to produce food, or humans would have to hand pollinate which is extremely labor
intensive and time consuming. Some countries, like Japan, have had a major decline in bee populations and have been forced to hand pollinate thousands of plants.

The loss of bee populations is a major worldwide concern, without their help there would be a reduction in the global food yield, a collapse of the global food market, and
many humans would find themselves without adequate amounts of food. There are many that are studying the declining bee population and trying to find ways to help. One
such program here in Hawaiʻi is the UH Honey Bee Project (for more information go to: So remember, the next time you
eat fruit, a piece a bread, corn, or a vegetable it was made possible by these little flying pollinators.

bee1 bee2 bee3
bee4 bee5 bee6

garden and are even working towards making their own fertilizers. But there are other people in your community that need help. So you pack a bag with all the tools you might need, and start walking to the other side of the valley. You are not going to be able to do this alone so along the way you have to collect support and some more supplies. As you walk, you notice things about your environment that you never noticed driving in your car. You are feeling more connected with the
Hawaiian Empirical Observation

The ancient Hawaiians had a unique relationship with their environment, they depended on the ʻāina for all their necessary resources, such resources included food, shelter, clothing, and medicine. Throughout the many generations that lived on these islands, Hawaiians collected knowledge through empirical observations and passed it down to their children as ʻIke Hawaiʻi (Traditional Hawaiian Knowledge). Ancient Hawaiians were the first scientist to study the ecosystems of Hawaiʻi, and understand the value of caring for and valuing the land. The best way to understand a environment is to observe the natural processes that take place. The next time you are out in nature, at the beach, or on a hike, make a note of all the different things you see. What animals and plants are around? What do the clouds look like? Is it raining or sunny? Is there wind, what is its direction? Here are some of the observations that ancient Hawaiians made that helped them to survive and sustain on these islands. 

Pua ka wiliwili, nanahu ka manō The wiliwili blooms, the shark bites


, and realize the problems of pollution and degradation. Your journey shows you that is important to collaborate with all your neighbors, and work together, not only to survive this disaster, but to save the environment from further human caused destruction.

After collaborating with different community members, you have created a collective agriculture network, made composts for each household in your neighborhood and helped organize other essential services.
Rooftop Gardens

Gardening is just one more way we can create a more sustainable Hawaiʻi and reduce the use of fossil fuels. However, there isn't always enough room for gardening,
especially in urban places like apartment buildings and office buildings. Many people in the city would like to have their own gardens and grow their own food but simply
cannot create a garden inside their living room. Something that urban dwellers are starting doing is rooftop gardening. On buildings that are suitable people are planting
gardens and growing their own food. Not only is gardening a relaxing and satisfying activity but rooftop gardens provide a number of beneficial functions. Some of these
functions include reducing the amount of rain run-off, reduce the heat absorption of the building, converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, creating a cooler temperature for urban
areas. Rooftop garden often include features such as hydroponic systems which reduce the necessary amounts of soil needed to farm, and techniques like vertical farming,
growing plants up instead of outward can maximize the use of space in a limited area. Rooftop gardens are also a good way to bring bring a bit of nature and green growing
things back into an area that is predominantly concrete, steel, and asphalt. 

alala-C-5-A alala-C-5-B

But word has traveled from other places around the state that people are struggling. So you, and some of your friends meet to discuss how to improve the situation for the state. It is essential at this scale that you explore your biggest and brightest ideas, and are not afraid to think way outside of the box. Innovation is going to be the corner stone of any solution. And you also need to understand the ways that the government and other organizations are working to improve the situation and achieve sustainability, and then see how you fit into the larger picture.

The concept of sustainability involves not just your house, being sustainable, or your school recycling, it is really about a web of connections, and that each thing we do, effects someone. On a global scale, achieving sustainability will be even more challenging than it was for your state. Be proud of what you were able to accomplish so far, and the contributions you have made in Hawaii. But don’t stop there; many people in the world need your help. Remember the saying “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”-Lao Tzu. So do what you can now, and keep thinking about this as a long-term trip, and not a destination you will reach tomorrow.
One Earth

We only have one Earth, lets be careful with it.


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