Cooperative Extension Service celebrates centennial at ag fest

Backyard gardeners and landscaper wannabes will find no better resource on Maui for getting information than the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) in Kahului.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, CTAHR will celebrate 100 years of the Cooperative Extension Service that started it all with three informational booths at the Maui County Ag Festival 2014 in Waikapu.

Established by the Smith-Lever Act on May 8, 1914, the extension started off by providing science-based information and educational programs. Today, Maui’s branch is under University of Manoa’s umbrella with offices, classroom and gardens at UH Maui College.

“We will be highlighting what we’ve been doing over the course of time,” says Lorraine L. Brooks, Maui’s Urban Horticulture extension agent and the leader of the coveted Master Gardening program.

“We’ve been on Maui since 1928,” continues Brooks. “And, we’ll have people at the ag fair who have been with us from back in the day, such as Charlotte Nakamura, former county administrator.”

The CTAHR team of volunteers will be offering details on food safety, 4-H programs, fruit fly management, a plant clinic, a bug of the hour show and tell, and Master Gardener Program information.

“At our plant clinic, you are encouraged to bring samples, and we will answer your gardening questions. At the fruit fly table, we’ll talk about management and you may sign up for workshops. We’ll also sell organic bait.”

Conventional, GMO-free seeds will be sold at another table for $1 a pack. You may buy corn, tomato, lettuce, pak choy, bean, pepper, onion, cauliflower seeds and more – all well adjusted to Hawaii.

“Last year, we were so busy all day,” says Brooks. “We’ll have a landscape specialist and an intergenerational agent talking about issues on aging.”

Its UH Master Gardener Program is offered as a weekly class each semester. About 40 candidates are chosen from a large pool of applicants, and they must put in at least 50 hours of community service upon course completion. Each week, a doctoral and other experts speak on topics such as plant pathology, pesticide safety, basic botany, tropical fruits, soils and nutrition, and more.

CTAHR will also have booths at the Haiku Ho’olaule’a from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12.

“Again, we’ll be answering gardening questions and we will be talking about our programs,” says Brooks. “The event is a benefit for Haiku Elementary School. The public is also invited to come to our offices from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays to ask gardening questions and to submit soil samples.”

If you wish to contact CTAHR, emails and phone calls are both welcome, “But we like emails, because we can send you links to publications,” says Brooks.

For more information, call 244-3242, Ext. 228; or visit