Sustainability in the city: a merger of plants and politics

By Chelsea Yamase

In a densely settled Honolulu neighborhood, a Jamaican man and a man from New Jersey are spending the afternoon on their hands and knees harvesting olena, sugarcane and bananas. This unlikely duo is working together to promote sustainability in a way that is relevant to modern society.

Fair-skinned and originally from New Jersey, Evan Tector does not look like a farmer. His quick speech and concise vocabulary seems more fit for a technology boardroom than a backyard.Yet, between the tightly packed rows of houses in Palolo Valley, Tector’s home stands out as an oasis of green among slabs of concrete. His selection of more than 30 fruits, vegetables and herbs would make a supermarket proud. Olena, the Hawaiian name for turmeric, stand in a neat row next to the leafy potato shoots. Ten-foot tall sugarcane stalks soak up the rain spewed forth from the neighbor’s gutter. Oregano scales the hill, while squash, peppermint, kale, potatoes, Thai basil, spearmint spring up in the shade beside the chicken coop.

But gardening in the middle of a city is not always easy.

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