Guide by Angela Kay Kepler
When you live on an island with as many microclimates as Maui’s, the secret to growing vegetables has everything to do with location. We asked Dr. Angela Kay Kepler, a consummate Maui gardener, to help us plot the perfect plants for a Maui vegetable garden—no matter where on the island you’ve set down your roots.
A naturalist, organic farmer and award-winning author, Dr. Angela Kay Kepler also is the world’s leading authority on Hawaiian and Eastern Pacific bananas. She and husband Frank Rust coauthored the definitive book on the subject: The World of Bananas in Hawaii: Then and Now, published in 2011 by the University of Hawaii Press. Its 612 pages and 1,900 color illustrations catalog virtually every edible and inedible banana in Hawaii, including spectacular ornamentals—and the little-known “pregnant” banana, mai hapai, whose fruit grows inside the plant’s trunk.
In tracing the evolution of bananas and plantains in the Pacific, the book also lends insight into Hawaiian culture, examining traditional foods, chants, legends, crafts . . . even the use of parts of the banana plant to weave everyday clothing. A recipe chapter features dishes from banana mayonnaise to meat-plantain casserole. The World of Bananas in Hawaii is available for $80 through the University of Hawaii Press website.