Slow Food Oahu has been invited to participate in Jack Johnson’s social action network—All At Once. These funds will be used, in part, to support the Banana Project. In addition to creating more diversity in our fruit baskets, we are planning a banana festival, once we have trees and fruits available from these efforts.Slow Food ‘Oahu is working with Waimea Valley, and Hawaii SEED to regenerate native Hawaiian and other rare bananas varieties. We have established a fund to propagate rare Hawaii banana varieties. The bananas are being grown from tissue at the HARC research lab in Kunia. After they are big enough, the banana keiki will be shared with banana growers, nurseries, botanical gardens throughout the state. The funds will be used to grow the plants in the lab, as well as fund transportation costs.
Although Hawaii is the only state that has a lengthy history of growing bananas, our banana selection has been dwindling. As recently as the late 70s there were many more types of bananas available in Hawaii’s markets than there are now. Kokua Co-op sold Bluefield, Williams, real ice cream bananas, Cuban reds in addition to everyone’s favorite, apple bananas. Unfortunately, those days are well behind us and now very few locally grown varieties are available.
Hawaii has, like other Pacific islands, native strains that were carried by Polynesian voyaging canoes centuries ago. These canoe bananas were numerous in color, shape and flavor. There are over thirty varieties but they are very difficult to find and maintaining virus-free populations is challenging. Some of these are close to extinction and most local people have never seen one, let alone eaten one.
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The Johnson Ohana Foundation All at Once is matching all donations up to $2,500 dollars.