Putting down roots

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Agrihoods help you commune with nature and like-minded neighbors

By Sarah Sekula, published in USA TODAY’s Sustainability magazine

In the first ten minutes of strolling past pineapple patches and mango trees with organic farm specialist Aaron Shapiro, here’s what I learned: Breadfruit in Brazil can grow to be the size of a small child. Avocados despise salty air. And it’s best to pick passion fruit off the ground rather than plucking it from the tree.

Just imagine what you could glean if you lived near the farm he runs. When I say near, I mean just steps away: The 2-acre biodynamic farm is part of Kohanaiki, a private community on the island of Hawaii. Centered around a grottolike farm, it’s what’s known as an agrihood, a neighborhood that focuses on sustainable living, wide-open spaces and fostering a genuine sense of community.

With myna birds as our soundtrack, Shapiro explains his love for all things agricultural. It stems from growing up on a mango and avocado farm with “hippie parents,” he says with a grin. In short, he found living off the land so appealing that he devoted his life to tending crops.

These days, he passes on his knowledge to Kohanaiki residents with plant propagation classes and lessons in creating Japanese moss balls. He also teaches neighborhood kids how to plant beans and sunflowers, how irrigation works and how to play in the sprinklers.

Read the rest of the article here.