Alright! This is John Kohler of
Today we have another exciting episode for you, and still on vacation in Maui. We’re
going to share another cool organic farm with you guys. So where we’re at today is, we’re
next to my friend Ryan’s place. There’s a few cool things about Ryan. Number one,
I’ve known him for 15 plus years now, totally cool. And another cool thing is actually about
five years, I came to this very farm and filmed an episode, and I have it documented for you
guys. I’ll put a link down below for you guys if you want to see his humble beginnings.
Basically, what happened was about five years ago, he was working for a local, natural foods
company and was doing that pretty much fulltime, and tried to maintain a little farm on the
side. Slowly but surely, day after day, he’d put
a little bit more time in his farm and yes he’d still have to go to work, but at one
point finally he got his farm built up enough that he was able to leave his job and do what
he really loved. I love gardening and I love farming; this is just fun to me, it’s not
work. And although he is probably technically working more hours and harder, what you believe
work is is what you think of it. Some people might think, “John man, it’s so much work
to make a video.” No, for me, making videos like this for you guys is fun. For me gardening,
spending time with my girlfriend, traveling, that’s all fun stuff. That’s not work,
because you gotta do something with your time. That’s what he gets to do. He gets to wake
up passionately every day. He gets to work on his farm, he gets to make a living, feed
his family and all this kind of stuff. And actually he’s doing better now than actually
working full time with his farm on the part time. I want to encourage all you guys out
there, if you want a career, if you don’t like your job right now, it is always an option
no matter where you live in the country to start a farm. Even if you don’t have enough
space. Check my past episodes or my upcoming episode on a guy in Portland who has a farm
out of his garage, growing wheat grass and buckwheat sprouts and sunflower greens. There’s always a way to do it. There’s
microgreen places that I’ve visited and made videos about it, and that’s their indoor
farm. Microgreens, they sell for a lot of money. The other thing, about my friend here
on Maui, things sell for a little bit more expensive than the mainland. Plus, the cool
thing he does that differentiates himself, and I always encourage you guys to differentiate
yourself. If everybody’s growing apples in your area, don’t grow apples. That’s
too much competition. Grow pears, or Asian pears, because nobody’s got them, so guess
what, because you’re the only guy with them, you could charge more money for them and the
care in general is probably fairly similar to the apples. And so he really tries to grow a diversity
of crops and actually at this last farmer’s market, it was the Maui Upcountry Farmer’s
Market near Kula on Saturday, which, if you go to, number one farmer’s market in Maui
and I recommend you guys get there early, very important, like 6:30,7, because they
will sell out of stuff. There’s that much of a demand for fresh, locally grown organic
produce here in Maui. That’s one of the reasons why he can make this happen. Somebody
might think, “Yeah, the farm behind him looks really great!” Well, actually, this
is not actually his farm. This is actually the neighbor’s farm, which also grows with
organic principles, but does it a lot different. If you think of a farm, you think of a place
like this, with rows and maybe some plastic on the ground to help prevent weeds, and all
this kind of stuff. This kind of farm, while it’s cool and I always encourage you guys
to grow your own food and have your own farm, there are more sustainable ways and less sustainable
ways to farm in my opinion. In this method, they’re bringing in a lot of external inputs
because they’re not making a lot of their own inputs for their farm on site. Whereas if we look next door, you’re going
to see, number one, a lot more diversity and number two, he’s actually making some of
the inputs he needs to fertilize his garden to make it fruitful, bountiful, and productive.
I guess without any further ado, let’s go into his farm and what I’m going to do today
with you guys is share some of the techniques and special crops that he’s growing and
how to do it, whether you live in Maui, or the mainland, an apartment in New York City,
you’ll be sure to see some tips that’ll help you grow more food effectively, whether
you just want to grow for you and your family like I encourage everybody watching this video
to do, or whether you want to start a small farm like he has to help feed the community
and of course, also your family. Let’s head into his cool farm. So this is
the road that goes into his farm and you can see the clearly defined border; you can see
the standard row crop agriculture up to his property and at this property line, he’s
done something very special. He’s using the edges to his advantage and I want to encourage
you guys to use the edges of your property to your advantage. It’s actually quite windy
up here sometimes so he’s grown windbreaks around the perimeter of his property and they’re
not standard trees or plants that are just good for nothing, right? Everything always has a purpose on his farm,
and I want everything you guys grow to have a purpose, whether you’re going to eat it,
whether you’re going sell it, or whether it’s going to feed your soil and you’re
growing nutrition for your soil. That’s simply what he’s doing. Over on this side
he’s growing some cash crops, known as sugar cane, I love my sugar cane, but he’s growing
tons of sugar cane and he has some of the healthiest organic sugar cane I’ve ever
seen. It’s like this thick in girth, and we’ll check it out in a little bit. And
then over on this side he has some nitrogen-fixing trees that grow pretty quickly and you can
just chop them and drop them to add fertility to his soil. I guess without further ado let’s
head into the farm and check it out. One of the things my friend strives to do is bring
fertility to his soil, and one of the ways he does that is by utilizing animals. So he has multiple different kinds of animals:
ducks, geese, goats, chickens and yes, even wabbits. Silly wabbits, oh you guys are cute
wabbits. So what we’re looking at here is chicken tractor, I mean rabbit tractor. This
is a rabbit tractor that he can pick up and move to where he needs it to feed the rabbits
scrub weeds and produce clippings that he wouldn’t normally eat. He feeds them that
food and then the rabbits make their rabbit manure. In the last episode that you guys
saw, my other friend does not use any rabbit manure and you could do it either way. You
don’t need manure to be an organic gardener. There are definitely ways to do gardening
without manure, if that is your choice. For example, the next-door grower, you guys saw
the row crops. They bring in animal manures from a local feed lot that’s being fed GMO
corn and soy, yet they still consider themselves organic. Now the feed lots are feeding them GMO corn
and soy but also antibiotics. That’s the kind of manure that I do not and will not
endorse or recommend that you guys bring in to your farm. If you do want to bring in manure,
know the source. Better yet, if you want to do manure, make it yourself. That’s even
the best, because you know what’s going into the rabbit’s mouth. Personally, I’ll
probably not have a whole lot of animals. Once again, there’s pros and cons to everything
in life. If you get married to a stripper, that’s a pro and a con, because she’s
probably really hot but the con is she was, you know, a stripper. And not to say anything about strippers or
anything, but once again with having animals, it’s a pro and a con. The animals are living
creatures. They take a lot more work than the sugar canes sitting next to them because
they’re living, they’re moving, they’re breathing, they could get hurt, they require
more constant attention. If you guys have any sort of pet, a dog or cat, you guys baby
your pets. And if you have animals, in my opinion you should be babying them and taking
care of them because they’re actually providing for you, whether you’re going to use them
for food or whether you’re going to use them for manure. A lot of my friend Ryan’s time is dedicated
to taking care of his animal, whether that means filling up the water bottle, whether
that means feeding them every day, making sure they always have water, and making sure
they don’t get hurt, or eaten by animals. I want you guys to think about this. The other
thing I want you guys to think about and realize is that he is feeding them weeds that are
not really of a financial value here, but basically rabbits speed up the compost process
to make the nutrients more broken down and available for the soil. You could do the same
thing just by taking the weeds and putting them into a compost pile to let it cook down. Furthermore, the animals over there, they’re
going to eat the weeds like we eat food, and our bodies take out what we need, some of
it is burned in energy for us to be able to talk and move, and then the rest comes out
of us. So they’re taking the weeds that have, say 100 percent nutrition, and they
eat it, and then they poop out 80 percent of what was in the weeds when a much better
preference for me and not have to take care of animals is to put the weeds into my compost
and get a higher percentage of net nutrition out of it to put back into my garden. That
being said, it will take a lot more leaf matter to break down because the rabbits and other
animals are concentrators of nutrients. I always like to give you guys the full story
instead of saying “Don’t use manure!” or “You should always use manure!” I want
you guys to be mindful, and I try to lay out both angles for you, so you guys can make
a decision on what you choose to do on your own garden or farm. Next let’s go ahead
and move on to, it looks like he just harvested some sugar cane so I’ll show you a bundle
of sugar cane. What we’re looking at now is some of the sugar cane that my friend Ryan
has harvested, and you can see all the sugar cane plants over on that side. These guys
are tall. I wish I had as much sugar cane as my Ryan does. He’s had to train this
stuff up because sugar cane doesn’t grow up erect like guys at night with a hot girl.
They kind of flop over and get sideways, so he’s actually had to painstakingly tie these
guys to go upright to provide windbreaks. In addition, they also provide some shading
to the plants planted below. Now that could be a good thing when it’s super hot but
that can also be a bad thing because that can limit growth. But no matter what he’s
doing, it looks like he’s doing a great job because the sugar cane is growing quite
well. Sugar cane is in the grass family and sugar cane, in my opinion, is the best form
of sugar that we should be consuming, if you want to consume sugar. We get all this refined
sugar. Everything’s been processed out of it. Everybody’s always saying “Don’t
eat white foods! Don’t eat white flours and white sugars!” We want to eat natural
whole food, and the whole sugar cane here, this bunch, it’s pretty heavy. Look at this
bunch right here. This green sugar cane is definitely a lot
of heft, a lot of weight to it. It’s quite unfortunate that here on Maui, most of the
sugar cane being produced is not being grown in an organic manner in my opinion, is not
super sustainable just so that people could have their white sugar. Most of this sugar
cane is sold so that it actually can be juiced with sugar cane juicers and drank right up.
If you visit Ryan at the farmers’ market, he will bring juiced up organic sugar cane
straight from his fields and let me tell you, I had some at the farmers’ market and it’s
some of the best stuff. If you’ve never had it you’ve got to have it. It’s super
sweet and uber delicious. This is just one of the crops that he grows to differentiate
himself from other growers because not many people grow the sugar cane. And he has multiple varieties of the sugar
cane and much like apples, whether you’ve got Granny Smith or Fuji apples, each variety
of sugar cane grows a little bit differently and of course, tastes differently as well.
What we’re looking at now is another specialty crop that I don’t often see around, but
Ryan has been very successful growing this crop. And this is raspberries. I know you’re
thinking, “John you could grow raspberries in the tropics man, I thought they were a
temperate climate fruit.” Actually, these are not just any old raspberries. They’re
called the mysore raspberries and check them out, these guys are like black raspberries. I always want to encourage you guys to eat
your foods in color, and if you live in the tropics, you should definitely be growing
some mysore raspberries. Quite delicious. Super good and these guys grow in the way
Ryan grows them. Check it out. They’re also super productive. These are actually very
labor-intensive to harvest, so unless you got a lot of labor, might not want to grow
these. They’ve got some nasty thorns on them, more akin to blackberries than raspberries,
but he’ll harvest whole containers of these and guess what, when you’re the only guy
at the farmers’ market who’s got the mysores, you can charge almost any price you want. What we’re looking at now is one of Ryan’s
fields for lack of a better word. This is not like the farmer next door that has the
standard row crops. Ryan has row crops, but it’s a diversity of different crops. He
doesn’t just plant all kale in this section and all okra over there and all the eggplants
over there. He has it all mixed up. This is my style of gardening; I like to intermix
things and interplant things and that’s very valuable so that if you have an outbreak
of pests on this kale, it’s not affecting the kale on the south fourty over there. This
is technique I personally like to use. Also it breaks up the monotony and makes things
look cool. In addition, because of the way my friend Ryan is farming, he’s more productive
than the farmer next door due to his practices. As you guys can see, one of the practices,
unlike most commercial farmers that grow a bunch of lettuce, they’ll come in with their
knife and chop off the whole head of lettuce and sell the whole head of lettuce, or they’ll
chop off their whole kale plant and sell a whole thing of kale, Ryan comes and carefully
and painstakingly harvests the leaves off these kale plants. He’ll harvest one leaf of this plant, one
off this plant, one leaf off this plant, and because he’s got a hundred plants all the
way down the row, he’ll have bunches of kale to sell at the farmers’ market. Now
if you’re just going for a family, you won’t need a hundred plants but I’d definitely
like to have 20-odd plants during the winter when things slow down. Unfortunately, or fortunately
for Ryan, things don’t slow down here in Hawaii because it never gets super cold like
the mainland. One of the things I want to let you guys know about is the method of harvesting
he’s using. I call it, for lack of a better word, “sustainably harvesting” because
think of it, if you took this kale plant, you chopped it down and then you just sold
the kale right here, then the plant would not be productive for you. You’d have to start again, plant the seed,
keep it growing and it’s going to take a lot more time to replenish. I always want
to encourage you guys to keep your plants for as long as you can, provided they are
still productive and if you grow them in good nutritious soil like Ryan has here and he’s
included things here like the rock dust that I like to use and adding compost back into
his farm, you can maintain production and still get good yields. In addition, because
Ryan is harvesting in this fashion, he’s harvesting baby leaves so the customers are
also getting a higher quality product, in my opinion. If you’re going to buy kale,
collard greens, or any kind of greens in the store, you always want to get the smallest
leaves because they’re going to taste better, they’re going to be more tender whereas
many growers are going to pick that old, nasty, long leaves that just aren’t going to taste
as good when you’re trying to cut them up and use them in a salad for example. I’ve had some of the greens here and I’ve
got to tell you, they are amazing. Now check this out. You guys might be thinking, “John,
is that an earth ship? It looks like the framing of an earth ship.” Well no, Ryan’s not
building an earth ship here, although he might one day. What you’re looking at is actually
his cool tomato trellis. Ryan’s kind of like me. He likes to reuse things and make
things as most efficient as possible so that he can save on labor, and it makes less work
in the long run. If you just let your tomatoes sprawl out on the ground, they’re going
to take more area, more space and you’re going to have to hunt and pick for the ripe
tomatoes whereas with this, he’s reusing wood and irrigation line that was previously
existing on the property to make an amazing trellis structure, one like I’ve never seen
before. This thing is towering out at like 10 feet
tall with just some simple wood and some wood screws and this irrigation tubing. He’s
made a really nice structure. To me, this looks like one of those gazebo things you
walk through when you’re getting married. And the other thing he’s doing is he takes
the time to single stem his tomato plants. These guys grow really tall and when they
grow tall and up and over the top, he actually weaves them back the other way and he’s
keeping the foliage of the leaves down so that he can easily pick and see the tomatoes
when they’re ripe. Not many farmers take the time to do it right, to be most efficient,
but also enables him to control bugs and disease much better because there’s very few leaves
on the plant. I definitely like this technique a lot, especially in a home environment where
I’m at and many of you guys are. You’re going to want to grow your tomatoes vertically,
get them off the ground and I may even next year because if Ryan’s doing it, I’ll
single stem my tomatoes too. Alright, so I wanted to give you guys a walkthrough of this
cool trellis structure. This thing was fully enclosed, it’d be quite
cool because you’d have a ton of tomatoes growing but check it out, he not only has
tons of tomatoes growing, but if you look at the other side, that’s yumbalicious right
there. My favorite sugar snap peas there, right here, coming out the vine. I’m going
to go ahead and try this one. Hear that crunch. Wow, best Maui-grown sugar snap pea I’ve
ever tasted. What we’re looking at now is another area of Ryan’s farm. He just doesn’t
have all row crops like I showed you guys, and diverse row crops at that. He has many
different areas, and I want to encourage you guys when you have a home garden or farm such
as this, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You want to have different areas,
with different gardening techniques because what you’re going to find is if you only
have row crops with plastic on top, you’re going to be limited in what you can grow. What he’s done here is build raised beds
with recycled lumber, much of which that he’s gotten, if not all of it, for free actually
and it’s just random pieces of lumber, whether that’s 2x4s or 2x6s, stakes, and he’s
built these amazing raised beds that he’s brought in some soil and used some native
soil to have a little bit different soil consistency. And because these are raised beds, he has
more control of the soil and also the weather and whatnot in here, because the soil does
stay a little bit warmer. In my personal home garden, I grow in all raised beds. I don’t
mess around with growing in the soil because the soil, I don’t know the quality of it
and I want to make sure I have the best soil because basically I’m feeding myself. Now
Ryan’s a different situation; while he is feeding his family with his food, his primary
purpose for growing is to remain viable as a business. He’s doing a fine job at that. One of the
ways he does that is by growing crops people think you can’t grow in Hawaii. For example,
here has some celery and there’s far and few in between organic growers that grow celery
in Hawaii because it can be challenging and difficult. If you go to the cooperative extension
office, they don’t even say you can even grow that, and there’s a lot of crops they
don’t even recognize or say you could grow because it’s too hard. So he’s figured
out special techniques that allow him to grow celery and guess what? When he’s the only
one with celery at the market, he could charge whatever he wants if the people want it. He’s
been selling out of his celery, so that tells you something. This celery looks super amazing
to me and besides just the celery, this next bed over here that you guys can’t see, he’s
growing yam bean, or jicama. The biggest jicama I ever saw was at the farmers’
market on Saturday at Ryan’s booth. It was huge, and jicama is one of my favorite root
crops, and you need a long season to grow a good jicama, like he has here. And of course,
when you’ve got good nutrition, rock dust and good soil, your plants are going to perform
for you. That’s one of the tips that I’ll share with you guys. One of Ryan’s secrets
is that working and developing the soil, figuring out what the soil needs, what the plants need,
and simply providing it. Because really, Ryan is not growing simply vegetables. He’s growing
soil, and I want you guys out there to focus not growing jicama or celery, but focus on
growing your soil. When you grow your soil and you have good soil, it’ll be a lot easier
for you to grow those vegetables. What we’re looking at now is Ryan’s shade
house, where he starts all the babies that he grows on his farm. Now, each one of the
different trays has, I don’t even know, like a hundred cells. This is a scale far
beyond what I’ve ever done before, but that’s because he has a full-on farm to produce literally
pounds and pounds of food every week to sell at the farmers’ market. So he starts all
his seeds right here, and I want to stop right there for a second. It’s always the best,
in my opinion, to start your seeds if you know what you’re doing, because a seed packet
is cheap and buying plant starts is quite expensive. You probably couldn’t be financially
viable if you relied on somebody else to make the starter plants that he plants on his farm
right here. For that reason, especially if you’re a farmer, you need to learn how to
properly start seeds and grow them out. For many of you guys, who might not have even
started to garden or grow food yet, I would definitely recommend doing a mixture of buying
some plant starts because you’re assured a plant start that’s bigger is going to
be more resilient to things happening to it and higher level and probability of success
whereas if you start seeding, if you don’t do enough water, not enough sun, too much
sun, the plants could be stunted when they’re growing up. The most important time of a plant’s
life is not when it’s producing for you. It’s when it’s in its baby stage, and
when it gets transplanted out. You want to make sure, it’s root-bound when it’s planted
out, and you always want to make sure it has a happy, healthy life. If he forgets to water
his little babies here, and they run out of water, they could lose their life or worse,
in my opinion, they’d actually get stunted growth. And because they were stunted at birth or
when they’re young, they’re never going to fully mature and develop into their full
genetic potential. And so he has all sorts of varieties, and he’s selected varieties
that will do well in the climate here. That’s another very important tip. No matter where
you live, whether you live in Hawaii or California or Nevada, you want to select varieties that
are going to do well in your particular climate and one of the ways you can learn this is
by talking to other farmers, if they want to share that information with you, but more
importantly, like Ryan has done since he’s been farming for so long, he’s done trial
and error. He buys different kinds of seeds; he plants this variety of carrot, that variety
of carrot. He’s like oh, that variety of carrot didn’t yield so well so I’m not
going to buy that kind of carrot again, but this variety did really good so I’m going
to keep growing that kind and he’ll constantly strive to try different varieties and see
what happens. Plus new varieties, maybe colorful carrots,
red carrots, purple carrots, and that’s more appealing to customers than the standard
orange carrot which everybody seems to grow these days. I’m happy to learn that because he’s growing
using organic methods here, he uses organic seeds whenever possible, but one of the sad
things and facts about organics is that in this day and age, not all the seeds in the
entire world are always available organically so there are rules that say if you can’t
find a seed organic, you can find a conventional seed and grow it under organic growing practices,
and then you can still call it organic. That’s simply what he’s doing here, so that he
can have a nice wide range of variety that’s going to yield well in this particular climate.
I want to encourage you guys, too, to be so walking with blinders on and like, “I gotta
get organic seeds and organic plants!” As long as it’s not GMO, you want to get some
seeds and start them out so you can grow them. Ryan here, he saves his seeds so that once
he grows out certain varieties, sometimes he’ll let some plants go to seed, he’ll
collect the seeds, and then regrow the seeds, which is now getting more accustomed to the
climate here. Plus now, there are first generation organic seeds that he’s produced himself,
and the best seeds, are of course, the ones you save yourself in my opinion. One of the
cool things about my friend Ryan is that he makes use of any resource that would normally
be thrown away. This is a resource that’s constantly being thrown away, but yet you
can use them to grow food. This is especially important if you live in an apartment in New
York City and you have a little patio, well hey, get an oldass bathtub, fill it with some
dirt, put a screen mesh in the drain because that’s where it’s going to drain because
it is sloped, and plant some food in it! It might look funny to your neighbors, but
Ryan doesn’t have any neighbors close by to see how he’s growing, but he’s simply
using an old cast iron bathtub and these guys can be heavy, as a large pot. I always want
to encourage you guys to think out of the box, or think out of the bathtub. What he’s
growing here is actually watercress, one of my favorite leafy greens to eat. They like
it a little bit more moist than other plants. Nice and peppery. On the other side, on the
back side here, he’s got another peppery plant, known as the horse radish. Let me tell
you, it’s definitely a good thing to grow horseradish and the watercress in the bathtub
because these guys are spreaders; they will spread out and root out and take over space
if you allow it to. But in a container, it can’t grow past the boundaries of the container.
So here’s some more cool containers Ryan is using to grow crops in. Of course, first I think we have some standard
large wide-mouth pots back there, and all of these have similar crops. I believe they
are radishes right now, and whether he’s got large plastic pots and the cheapest place
to buy those large plastic pots is at your local hydroponics store. I’ve found some
of the large ones could run maybe 10 bucks for a nice-sized pot. Another thing he’s
using is one that looks like, that looks like a kid’s wagon. Another thing that looks
very close to this is one of those pull-along igloo coolers. You can poke some holes in
the bottom; I’ve seen some people use those before. All these were reclaimed out of the
landfill and put some good soil in and planting things in. Here’s the trick: if there’s
pros and cons to everything in gardening, especially when growing some of these delicate
root crops, if you have nematodes in your soil, the nematodes will jack up radish roots.
That’s happened to me before. But when you put the soil in the container,
and you control it, the nematodes can’t get in there and they can’t squirm and squiggle,
however they move, and get in there to mess up your crops. I’m sure that’s one of
the many reasons he’s using containers to grow these specific crops. Next I want to
show you a few more cool containers he’s growing out of. I think my friend Ryan takes
the cake for being the most innovative farmer that I know. What he’s using here is really
cool. I don’t know if you can see that on the camera. He’s got one of those plastic
doghouses that come in the two halves: the top half and the bottom half. This is the
top half of one of those plastic doghouses and he put some wood over on this side to
block out the part where the dog walks in. He’s filled this with soil and is just using
it as another container. Another thing he’s using and he uses a lot of these guys because
they are available, are like the 35-gallon plastic drums. He takes a saws-all and saws it in half, puts
some holes in the bottom and guess what? Voila, instant plant growing container. So next what
we’re looking at is one of the many fruits Ryan cultivates here on his farm, and it’s
simply the bananas. He’s done quite well with the bananas; he has probably over a 150
different clumps on their own and each clump has all these baby plants that come up one
at a time and each plant, or banana plant, people would call them a tree but they’re
not technically a tree, comes up and they do what they’re doing here. You can see
a bunch of these clumps. You’ve got the big banana flower on the bottom and they make
a big rack of bananas. He has many different varieties of bananas
and I actually had an apple banana earlier. If you come to Hawaii, you’ve got to get
one of Ryan’s apple bananas. They’re some of the sweetest that I’ve tasted. This is
basically another cash crop for him because with the 150 clumps, he makes, I don’t know
300 pounds give or take, this will be different every time. This is a constant supply and
harvest. Amazing. They produce fairly quickly compared to other fruit crops that can be
grown. If you live in the tropics, I definitely encourage you guys to grow some heirloom varieties
of bananas, not the standard Williams or Cavendish bananas that’s so commonly found in the
supermarket. What we’re looking at now is a pond that
Ryan put on site here. Now the pond has the fish in there, which he’s currently developing
and letting them grow. He’s using some kind of aquaponics system, for lack of a better
word, he’s not using a formal aquaponics system where he’s got the water running
out, but basically he’ll pump out water and feed his vegetables with the fish water,
which is the pee and the poop of the fish that adds fertility to his soil. This is yet
another way that Ryan is adding fertility besides the other animals. He’s also using
the fish, and of course uses and makes plenty of his own compost here. What we’re looking
at now is a trellis system that Ryan has created using some standard T-posts every probably
10, 12, feet, some wire and some cane grass that was growing on his property. This is actually done very methodically, about
every foot. He has some wire running down to the next one, it’s weaved inside the
cane grass, which is a locally produced resource here on site, and he’s planted all his new
little tomato plants down below to let them climb up and grow this amazing, low-cost trellis.
Ryan is full of cool and innovative ideas on how to reuse things on site instead of
bringing in new things whenever possible. This is one of the things I admire about him,
and I want to encourage you guys to always think, once again, outside the box. And think
about how can I use this resource on my property, whether it’s old plants that would’ve
gone into the compost. Well can I use that to make a trellis out of old tree limbs, right?
If they’re straight, shave them down so you could make a trellis out of it. Use some
twine or some wire, instead of having to buy expensive trellis material, make your own
out of materials you’ve got. It’s definitely smart and going to save you money in the long
run. What we’re looking at now are some liliquoi
vines, and these guys are quite productive. There’s a lot of liliquoi, and for you guys
that don’t know, liliquoi is a Hawaiian word for passion fruit. I love my passion
fruits. He’s got some standard passion fruits here, and one of the things I want to point
out in this area is that all along the property, he’s growing his own fertilizer. I want
to encourage you guys to also grow your own fertilizer. In many places around the world,
you can grow your own fertilizer. “John, how do you grow fertilizer man? I thought
that was the stuff that comes out the bag.” Well, think about it. Where did fertilizer
originally come from before we had stuff in a bag? It came from nature. Plants would grow next
to other plants, they create symbiotic relationships with their roots, and the plants such as the
one right here, which is actually called the pigeon pea, is a nitrogen-fixing plant. So
it absorbs the nitrogen out of the air, stores it in the root zone and all the leaves are
rich in nutrition as well. He literally chops and drops this stuff, basically break it up,
tear pieces off, drop it on the ground and guess what, when that stuff breaks down, it
feeds the plants that are next to it. Sometimes he’ll use the pigeon pea to shade things
out if they are young and tender and until they get strong. Then he’ll chop down the
pigeon pea and he will feed that to his plants. Let me tell you this, the best food for plants
is animal manure! No, kidding, it’s other plants man. It’s how the nature system is
designed and set up. If you put too much chicken manure on your plants, you may burn your plants,
but you can put as much leaves and plant matter as you want on your plants, and it’s not
going to burn. So think about that. I try for the most part to model nature’s systems.
Of course, now when you’re on a farming situation and Ryan is pulling out tonnage
of food on a monthly basis and pulling this food off, he’s taking nutrition out of his
farm and sharing that and getting it out to people in the community. He also needs to
be bringing back that much, or more in my opinion, nutrition, back to his soil to keep
his land fertile and enable him to keep his production up. Because he exports more nutrients than he’s
bringing in, he’s going to be running at a deficiency and you can’t run in a deficiency,
whether that’s with a checkbook or at a farm for very long. Another innovative way
Ryan’s using the pigeon pea is to provide support and trellis up his chayote squash
vine. Now Ryan is the one responsible for me growing my own chayote squash at my place,
so that I could start eating the tips like he does, and actually like he sells at the
market. This is a chayote squash vine, and this is a delicacy. The vine grows and you
clip off the little tip right there, and this is edible raw. It’s such a delicate and
delicious flavor. Mm, it’s quite good, but besides just the baby tips that you can eat
raw in salads, there’s a chayote squash fruit. You can see two excellent examples here. These
guys are honking. The squash can be cooked up like any other squash, and these guys are
doing quite well also. These provide two sources of income, but at the same time, you can see
that pigeon pea here that’s being succumbed by the chayote squash, but guess what, the
pigeon pea is growing and also providing nutrients for the chayote squash. Also he can squash
and drop this stuff to provide nitrogen to his chayote squash vine. If you’re never
heard of chayote squash before, I want to encourage you guys to go visit a local ethnic
market, like a Mexican market, sometimes Asian markets will also sell the chayote squash.
Check it out. If you want to start one of these for next year — and only grow them
in the summertime because winter it gets freezing, these guys are not going to make it, although
there are more cold-tolerant varieties, but the standard green kind is not one of those. You take the fruit and plant it half in dirt,
half out of dirt and it sprouts up and grows a whole new vine. So you’ll want to do this
about the same time you plant your tomatoes for next spring. You’re going to want to
do this inside, keep it warm, so that it germinates and then makes a vine for you. These vines
grow very quickly and besides which, they’re also very delicious. So this next shot’s
very important. I’m not going to talk too loud, otherwise it might be quite dangerous
for me. You see there’s a crack in this tree right here, and if you look very carefully,
I know some of you guys got really good X-ray vision, you can see in the crack, and I’m
not going to dare stick my hand in there. But he has a naturally occurring wild beehive.
One of the things Ryan strives to do is create homes for creatures, and I want you guys to
create homes for creatures, too. He creates good soil to have good soil microbiology.
He creates a good home with a lot of organic matter to feed the worms in the soil. He’s
providing a good home for his plants, but he’s also providing a good home for the
bees in this tree that’s rotting, that’s no longer, well almost not alive. The bees
have had their own hive in there. Now he does not harvest honey. This is a wild hive he
does not mess with, but the bees in my opinion are an integral part of farming and your gardening.
Without the bees, we would lose 30 percent of the crops because the crops need to get
pollinated by the bees. So having simply wild bees here that are doing their own thing,
it simply increases Ryan’s yield. I want to encourage you guys out there, if
it’s legal where you live, to start keeping bees to help bees out. They’re getting colony
collapse disorder due to the use of pesticides and all these chemicals in nature, and I want
you guys to help the bees out because commercial farming and commercial keeping of bees, in
many instances they’re shipping bees across the country, they’re using different chemicals
in the bee hives is not a good thing. Ryan lets these guys do what they’re going to
do on their own. He does also have hives that he tends to in other areas of the farm to
definitely increase his production as well. He’s also starting to produce honey. But he’s only going to take the extra honey,
and unlike the other farmers who just take all the honey from the bees, then the farmers
have to feed the bees sugar water, he’s trying to live more in accordance with nature.
And if bees have the extra honey, then he’ll tap off the top. It’s kind of like when
I was a kid; I’d go in my mom’s purse and take just a dollar or two so that she
wouldn’t miss it. That’s literally what Ryan’s doing with the honey. In any case,
the sun’s going down. I want to get some time to interview Ryan on the show for you
so next we’re going to head in and sit down with Ryan, ask him a few poignant questions
about his farm and some tips that he can give you guys to increase your garden at home or
your farm if you’ve got one. So now I’m with my friend Ryan, who’s the farmer here
on this amazing property that I’ve gotten and had the pleasure to show you guys. We’re
simply going to ask him a few questions. So the first question is Ryan, why do you choose
to grow using organic practices and actually, even more than organic, you’re making many
of the inputs on your farm. RYAN: The main reason that I grow my own food
is that I want to feed myself and feed my family. My family’s super important to me,
and when I look around at what’s available, I was like, well I have a problem with that,
I have a problem with this, and I’d get too picky and then I’m like alright, I guess
if I want to do it right I’m just going to have to do it myself. And so now seven
years later, I’ve been doing it myself and now we’ve gotten to the point that I can
share it with the rest of the community as well. JOHN: Wow, I mean that’s why I started growing
my own food as well, just like Ryan. I was not happy with the current food system and
how foods, even organic food, is raised. They’re not doing specific things that I feel, and
Ryan will also probably feel, are really important to have high quality and the best tasting
food. So Ryan, next I want to ask you about the animal agriculture. So you’ve incorporated
things like the rabbits, the chickens, the ducks, and even the goats into your whole
mix here. What role do they play in your farm overall? RYAN: It adds to the diversity and diversity’s
everything, really. I like to provide housing for all the animals. So all the animals provide
a different mineral, different spectrum, they all have a function on the farm, and they
have pastureland that has a future that’s going to be an orchard. In the meantime, I’m
busy maintaining a productive farm. The goats can keep that maintained, and all the while
building up the fertility. They eat the grass, they spread their manure, and it’s building
up the fertility. I rotate those goats around, I move them to another location, and when
I go in to work in that area, it’s going to be easy to work because it’s not going
to be overgrown with thick woody stuff. I can get in there and they’ve made the soil
so much better, they’ve done a lot of the hard work for me. The same with the chickens.
With the rabbits I always like to say it takes the work out of weeding. Instead of weeding,
I’m pulling out, I’m actually harvesting food for the animals, food for the rabbits,
either for the chickens or the rabbits or the fish. And then I’m in relation with
them, and their manure is in relation to the soil microbes, and so it helps us make all
these circles and all these connections in the soil food web. JOHN: I think it’s really important to have
connections. He’s using a lot of the inputs on site, and keeping them on site. Let’s
talk about that for a second. How important is it to you to be as sustainable as possible? RYAN: Well, I look at all the options. It’s
very important. That’s my main goal, is to figure out how to tighten that loop, close
that loop and really be, discover what is actually sustainability. So I look and I see
other organic farms and I watch what they do. A lot of it is it’s organic, you need
so much nitrogen, you go to the feed store, the fertilizer store, and you buy big pallets
of fertilizer that’s organic. And you’re like, alright, what’s in that? What makes
it organic? Can I do that myself? And I look at it and go well geez, that’s chicken manure,
slaughterhouse byproducts, blood meal, bone meal, and where does that come from? And you
look and go, oh, you think, there’s a naïve perception that all comes from organic farms.
The reality is, it doesn’t. Most of the organic farms keep that for themselves
and what’s available as certified organic or OP certified organic fertilizer is slaughterhouse
byproducts and animal byproducts from factory-farmed, antibiotic-, GMO-fed animals, and that is
certified organic. That’s what it is. To me it’s substandard. Organic isn’t really
my goal, so I say, alright, I want what they want out of that. Get the nitrogen, and all
the minerals and everything that comes out of that animal and go a little deeper. I need
to do it myself, do that dirty work, and really have a relationship with all those animals
so that I can really understand and know what’s going into my food. I can just go buy GMO-fed
animal manures and byproducts, but it’s possibly laced with all this GMO contamination
and antibiotics and hormones and all kinds of whatever, and I just don’t know about
it. It’s a big question mark. I’m like alright,
I’m going to do it myself, so that really helps me to close that loop. I can produce
the animals, I feed the animals on the farm, whatever isn’t good enough to sell or I
don’t eat, I refeed it to the animals and recycle. So I can lose a whole entire crop
but it’s not really a loss. It goes back into the animals and they turn it back into
fertilizer and that feeds the next crop. So that helps close the loop and gets me closer
to that word — sustainable. JOHN: Awesome. I want to encourage you guys
whenever you can to think about these kinds of things. Most people that are organic gardeners
just buy the organic stuff from the store and put it on their crops without even thinking
about it. I try to teach you guys a different way and in my videos provide you options.
In this video you’re looking at how Ryan does it and in the last episode you saw how
my other friend does it without the use of animals, and the choice is yours. I just want
to give you guys a whole bunch of different things you can try to see which one makes
the most sense for you. I just want to provide you guys with options, and at the same time
I’m learning, every farm I visit I’m learning so much new information to make my farm that
I have one day, amazing. So Ryan, how many acres do you have here and is it easily workable
by you and your family? RYAN: We’re about four acres. We have a
couple of neighbors that we have some pasture on, but it’s about four acres, but it’s
not even all used yet. We’re able to be quite productive, it’s pretty intensive
production and I’d say, it probably takes 40, 80, 100, 200 hours a week about altogether.
So whoever that is, if that’s my family or if I have some help, to be able to maintain
that, so maybe 50 hours a week an acre. But you also have to think it took me many years
for me to get to that point, of not being productive for many years and learning and
learning and building the infrastructure and building that soil up so that you’re building
the equity in the soil so you can start getting that residual effect from that. So it takes
time to get to that point. JOHN: Good point. I want to always talk about
building up your soil. I talked about it earlier in this episode but it really is that important.
Good farmers know that they are, once again, building up the soil, not actually growing
plants. Ryan, another cool thing about you specifically is that I know you used to work
a fulltime job and have a part-time farm, and you were able to leave your job and come
full time on the farm. You want to share this and provide some inspiration for people out
there who might be working at a job that they hate for money that they don’t need, when
they’d just rather be out in the garden? You were actually able to make it happen,
and what are some of the tips that you would give the people out there who maybe want to
have their own farm one day and be sustainable and use their own farm as their source of
income like you’ve created for yourself? RYAN: If you’re grateful, your cup is always
full, so be grateful for what you have. Start with what you have and be grateful for what
you have. And use what you have, and that’s how I feel like we’ve been able to build
this farm. Looking a bathtubs and whatnot, as not necessarily trash, but maybe someone’s
discarded 15 foot piece of fence. On a shoestring I can start and build and take little pieces
and while I have a full time job, be grateful for that job. I was able to fund the infrastructure
of the farm, so I was grateful for my job that it was able to afford the farm because
to do it the way I really want to do it, it’s not something that happens over night. So
it takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of energy and if you see it as labor and work,
then maybe you’ll get discouraged. If you count how many hours you work and how
much money you make, you’re like “Oh, I’m making $2 an hour it’s not worth it
I want to keep my job.” But, if you use it was what you want to do and there’s a
passion and you know you’re building that equity in, you’re building the equity, you’re
putting in the soil, you’re putting in the infrastructure, that is the bank account.
The farm is the bank account so you can put all your energy and resources into that, and
you know, you have faith that it’s going to come back later, so you build a pond and
invest in livestock and plant varieties and soil amendments. It can be thousands and thousands and thousands
of dollars in building up the soil and getting the pH and getting the mineral content right,
but once it’s there it’s less input. So the beginning of farming, it’s a lot of
input and very little output, and so it can be very discouraging so you have to hold the
vision and keep your eyes on the prize so you can move forward into the future where
there’s less and less and less input and more and more and more output. That is the
goal we’re looking for. JOHN: Awesome. I always want to encourage
you guys out there, whether you want to farm or you’re not ever going to open a farm
like Ryan did, always live with an attitude of gratitude. Every day I wake up I’m grateful
for waking up because some people simply did not wake up today and able to do the work
that I do. Visiting farms, having so much fun in life, and once again, I want you guys,
besides just thinking about the money, because yes we all need money in our society to live,
but also think about what you would enjoy. I love gardening, I love farming, I love visiting
farms. I love what I do and even if I’m not making the most money, as long as I have
enough money to live, survive and do what I want, I’m totally happy with that. I want
to encourage you guys to go a little bit in this direction because it seems to me in America
today that everybody’s focused on the almighty dollar. To be successful you gotta be rich!
Well to me success is doing what you love, having a smile on your face and more importantly,
helping others like I do in all the videos here. So Ryan, is there any last tips and
tidbits of knowledge that you’d like to share with all the other gardeners and farmers
out there? Because you know so much about this stuff, it’s amazing. RYAN: My tip is, the more you know, the more
you realize you don’t know, so remain open and don’t think that you know everything
because there’s always so much to learn. And having a relationship with your farm.
I spend a lot of time, I work a lot at night, and I really examine the plants and find out
what bugs are working and find out what are the beneficial insects. I see stuff crawling
around and I see what is it doing, and you can get that relationship. It seems a relationship
with the animals. And another good tip I have is, it’s not
even my tip, everyone’s already said it, but if at first you don’t succeed, try again,
so how many times have we failed at growing celery or failed at growing collard greens
or failed at growing every crop? You have to fail in order to learn, and as much as
I’d like to think I can just watch some video or read some book, I don’t know. It
ends up being I actually have to make the mistake myself to really bring it in and own
it and really learn from it. Somebody can tell me, oh when you grow sweet potatoes,
watch out for this. And I’m watching out for it, but then it happens anyway. It’s
like alright, at least I saw it coming but it still happened to me. So at least now that I see it happen, I can
understand it and move forward with how to do it again. And so try it again and if that
doesn’t work, try it again. Have that faith and don’t think of it as work. It’s just
a process. We’re learning and we’re in relation so be in relation, and don’t see
it as a failure. It’s an opportunity, and if it turns out to be compost, that’s good
for your soil, that’s putting money back into the equity of your farm and bank account.
That’s going to continue serving you in the future so there is no waste, there is
no trash at all, it gets cycled back and that again is the sustainability loop. JOHN: Wow, some of the most wisest words ever
said by a farmer on my show. I encourage you guys to heed those words. In one of the models
that I go by in my life is there’s no such thing as failure. There’s only successes
because I kill a plant, I’ve succeeded at knowing how to kill a plant so that I can
do it better and improve next time. I know many of you guys out there are thinking, “But
John! Seriously though! I’ve got brown thumbs man, I can’t do it!” Well, another thing
is attitude. With that kind of attitude, you’re not going to succeed, so I want you guys to
open up yourselves and start the process of growing. I don’t even want to say “try”
because if you try to stand up on top a stool, you will not actually stand up on the stool.
I want you just to do, like Yoda says, “There is no try just do.” And I can’t say that
in a Yoda voice. So Ryan, we are here on Maui and you have some awesome produce. How can
somebody buy some of this amazing produce you guys saw, whether you live on Maui or
whether you’re visiting Maui, definitely recommend your first stop should be Ryan’s
stuff. It’s some of the best here on the island. RYAN: We sell it to Upcountry Farmers’ Market
in Kula, every Saturday, starts at 7 in the morning, goes until about 11. We do a wednesday
market in Makawao town in Po’okela Church. It starts at 9 to 1. We do wholesale deliveries
to different restaurants; you can find out stuff a lot at Mana Foods and Down to Earth.
Those are the two larger health food stores on the island. We do some other smaller stuff,
too. We definitely have our produce around and we’d appreciate everybody’s support.
I’m very grateful for the support of the community because if it wasn’t for the support
of the customers who want the quality and want the local and organic and want the best
stuff, then I couldn’t do it, so mahalo for all the support from the community. JOHN: Awesome. Well thank you for that Ryan.
Sun’s going down, I gotta get going, but I really love spending time on your farm.
This is actually the second time I’ve visited this farm in my week here on Maui. I’m going
to be flying out tomorrow so this is pretty much one of the last episodes I’ll be making
for you guys. But I really, sincerely hope you guys learned a few things along the way
at Ryan’s farm, once again whether you want to start a farm, whether you’re farming
already or you’re just a gardener. There’s tons of tidbits of knowledge in
this video, and you might even want to watch it a second time to get all the knowledge
that was shared inside it. In addition, you want to be sure to subscribe to my videos
if not already. I have over 1,000 videos now, and I visited this place like five years ago.
The link is definitely up if you want to see the transition from then to now because it
is amazing. It’s like when I go on vacation for a week and leave my garden and I come
back after a week and it’s so much more grown. I got to come back here after five
years and it’s like this place is like a jungle. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode.
Once again my name is John Kohler with We’ll see you next time and until then,
remember, keep on growing!