Limu Growers To Discuss Crop’s Future At Punaluu Conference

The phrase “cultural preservation” in Hawaii usually evokes images of hula or Hawaiian-language newspapers. Kua’aina Ulu ‘Auamo and ‘Ewa Limu Project want to add limu, or seaweed, to that list.

That’s why they’ll host a Sept. 4-7 gathering of limu practitioners at a Punaluu beach house to discuss its fate and take action.

During the unique conference, the 15-20 attendees will talk, of course — but they also will lay limu nearby, remove invasive seaweed from He’eia fishpond, and visit a protected limu area in Ewa Beach managed by ELP’s Henry Chang-Wo.

Miwa Tamanaha, deputy director of KUA, can list plenty of ways limu is a significant cultural cornerstone. Aside from its tasty culinary applications, the crunchy algae has played a role in conflict resolution, medicine and even climate and environmental science.

Attendance is limited this time, said Tamanaha, because the retreat is designed for “teachers to reflect on what they do and how they do it.” The intimate setting allows practitioners to absorb knowledge more fully and later return to their own communities to share it. (A limu festival in Hana will be open to the public in late fall, she noted.)

The intent is to form a “limu hui” that can continue to work together in the future on bigger projects, such as a seaweed nursery.

“There are certain kinds of actions that people have in common that help their program to grow,” she explained. “You can’t know what those are until everybody gets together.”

Though limu’s role has diminished in recent years, Tamanaha admitted, “One of the motivations for this gathering is to bring together people who have significant knowledge of limu, to share with each other, document and talk about what’s next.

“In a lot of places, people feel that (limu) is disappearing. People have fairly recent memories of being able to go out and gather in ways they feel they can’t anymore.”

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