Tropical Gardening: Celebrate a safe Thanksgiving

  • Courtesy of VOLTAIRE MOISE One of the newer fruits available at local farmers markets this season is the durian. Some say it is the king of fruits, and a 5-pound fruit can sell for $25. Because of its unique taste, some love it and others hate it. If you have the opportunity to score a fruit, see in which camp you find yourself.

These are strange times.

For the past several months, it seems many folks have been focusing on the negative, especially with the pandemic and politics.


We should not have big family gatherings for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations this holiday season. Avoiding large gatherings will be necessary to keep our friends and families healthy and alive.

Still, we can focus on our blessings.

We are in control of our exposure to the pandemic and soon there will be a vaccine to make COVID-19 a thing of the past. Let’s focus on the great contributions diverse ethnicities and cultures have bestowed on America as we move forward in this experiment called democracy.

We have had to struggle through times worse than these and yet our country has met the challenges and become better for them. Let us not forget what our nation has survived, from the terrible world war of the 1940s and onward. It sounds dismal, and we cannot forget the terrible price we pay for fear and hatred when it is allowed to consume our sensibilities.

Now is the time instead that we should emphasize the power of love and healing in our thoughts and meditations every day. It is amazing to experience how our country has moved beyond anger and hate after years of war and suffering, even though some effects are still visibly present.

The motto “Lucky live Hawaii” is for real!

We are somewhat insulated from much of the world’s turmoil. The tropics have many places with as much beauty as Hawaii, and there are many places where you can find friendly people. What is unique about Hawaii is that not only are we a beautiful and friendly place, we also have a form of government that allows us to live in relative safety and prosperity.

Now, some readers would disagree, but compared to most tropical regions, we are very fortunate. And sometimes we forget how fortunate we are.

Too often, Thanksgiving is about eating too much rich food and the worry that the weight gain is likely to continue until the New Year or maybe Easter. Unlike much of the tropical world, we don’t usually have to worry about from where our next meal comes.

However, it should be the perfect time to sincerely give thanks for all the many blessings around us every single day. Not only do we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, we are blessed with one of the most diverse populations of most other parts of our country.

This creates an environment of inclusion. We can be friends with anyone we like and marry anyone we want. With this mixture of ethnicities and cultures, we have an abundance of a great variety of foods, and our gardens reflect our diversity.

We celebrate this abundance with mango festivals, breadfruit festivals, avocado festivals and our special coffee with the Kona Coffee and Cultural Festival. We even have a macadamia festival. These events merely scratch the surface when it comes to all the amazing fruits, nuts, vegetables and spices we are able to grow.

Hawaii gardeners can grow scores of tropical fruits, even durian, but often overlook some favorites from warm temperate climates such as apples, peaches, pomegranates, figs, kiwi fruits and persimmons. With all the microclimates available, we can grow almost anything!

The joy of sharing the fruits of our gardening labor at local farmers markets and with our neighbors adds even more blessings. To get the most out of all these choices, check with local nurseries for fruit trees and more.


Our gardens represent the many cultures that make Hawaii so special. Remember, one of the best ways to count our daily blessings is by spending some time in our multicultural gardens and appreciating the fruits of our efforts and the contributions the many cultures have bestowed upon us.

To learn about all the great edibles you can grow, call the Master Gardener helpline in Kona at 322-4993 or in Hilo at 981-9155. You also can call Brian Lievens at 895-8753 with the Tropical Fruit Society.

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