Ulutopia Project Thriving

A partnership between Kaua'i CC and the National Tropical Botanical Garden

Kauaʻi Community College
Camilla Matsumoto, (808) 245-8280
Comm Relations & Spec Proj, Kauai Community College
Posted: Jun 8, 2015

The beginnings of an orchard of breadfruit trees as part of the Ulutopia Project.
The beginnings of an orchard of breadfruit trees as part of the Ulutopia Project.

KAUA'I ISLAND—Well protected by mature vegetation and graced by fresh air on Kaua'i Community College’s 200 acres of land, an orchard of 64 breadfruit trees, planted in December 2014, thrives. It is the site of the Ulutopia Project, a partnership between Kaua'i Community College and the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), designed to conduct research to promote the conservation and use of breadfruit for food and reforestation. Kaua'i CC serves as lead organizer of the project. According to Dr. Sharad Marahatta, agriculture faculty and manager of the project, the collaboration also includes University of British Columbia and UH Mānoa's Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences who are on board to contribute experimental expertise and project design.

This is the first scientifically designed field experiment studying the potential of breadfruit as a major field crop. “Nowhere else has such a study been conducted and it will help farmers make informed decisions about establishing and managing breadfruit orchards,” said Dr. Diane Ragone, director of NTBG’s Breadfruit Institute.

As explained by Dr. Marahatta, the objectives of the project are to create a teaching plot where students can learn agricultural-based field methodology; study the effects of cultural practices on the growth and yield of breadfruit; determine the effect of fertilizers and cover crops on breadfruit pests, diseases, and soil microorganisms; and help the community by providing breadfruit plants as a source of food. The first harvest will be in three to five years.

"The Ulutopia Project at Kaua`i CC is designed to answer ‘how do I establish a small orchard of trees and what is the best way to manage the trees,’” said Dr. Ragone. “It will compare different treatments such as fertilizers, including organic products, use of cover crops and inter-planting with other crops and plants. Producing more locally grown staple foods such as breadfruit, taro, and sweet potatoes is good for the consumer and good for Kauai’s economy."

Kaua'i Community College Chancellor Helen Cox said: “This collaboration between Kaua'i CC and NTBG is the perfect example of how residents of the Garden Island work together to reach the goal of being a sustainable living community. It is exciting to contribute to learning about this important crop while providing our students vital hands-on experience."