Is that? Could it be? Yep, our very own Sarah harvesting Cranberry Hibiscus in the Kauai Farmacy gardens on the pages of Hana Hou magazine. Mahalo Hawaiian Airlines! Check out the article titled, The Medicine Garden in the current issue next time you fly Hawaiian. Aloha.
Meet your new go–to condiment for absolutely everything
By TT Content Studio
Hawaii is known for many things: beaches, waterfalls, shave ice and, yes, SPAM. But one integral part of daily life on the Islands has been flying under the radar: Hawaii chili pepper water, the state’s beloved hot sauce. It’s time to put the Sriracha down and get to know your new favorite condiment—one that’s worth a plane ticket around the world and one that’s worth breaking your no–checked–baggage rule for, just to bring home a big bottle.
Hawaii chili pepper water is made with red chili peppers, white vinegar, garlic and boiling water. You could add ginger or any other seasoning, but these four ingredients make up the classic base. Mix everything together in a jar, cover and let cool anywhere from overnight to a couple days. Then store in the refrigerator to enjoy at will. And that really means at will: Fans of the hot sauce use it on morning eggs, noodle soups, sandwiches and BBQ. If you think your lunch could withstand a little kick, douse it on.
The hot, red chili peppers grow easily in Hawaii, especially on Kauai, whose extremely wet climate has earned it the moniker the Garden Island. At Kauai Farmacy, an idyllic farm on the north side of the island that grows herbs for teas, spice blends and an array of health products, the chili peppers, also called nioi in Hawaiian, are abundant. They’re used for an epic curry blend or simply ground to a powder that can be sprinkled into soups or over vegetables for flavor and varied health benefits, like increased circulation, better digestion and reduced heart risks.
Hawaii chili pepper water is a staple in mom–and–pop restaurants and in local Hawaii households alike. Even upscale restaurants, like Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House 1849 on Kauai, use the stuff to spice up sashimi. Though it’s not difficult to make, certain places take pride in the secret touch their customers have learned to crave. Sean Garcia, owner of Kauai’s popular breakfast spot, Java Kai, loves the chili pepper water at Waipouli Deli & Restaurant, a favorite diner down the street. Still, others are loyal to their family’s brand—likely a closely guarded recipe.
Whether you’re buying the condiment at the store, using a restaurant’s version or making your very own, once you get used to the lingering heat, you won’t be able to stop. Don’t be surprised if you leave Hawaii with a few bottles in your bag or if you plan a return trip as soon as you notice your supply looking a little low.
Jeanne Cooper and Chloe Roth. Photo by Erin Kunkel
March 2017 issue
Located on the north shore in the town of Kilauea, the Kauai Farmacy is made up of 4 acres, 70 medicinal herbs, seven loose-leaf teas—and one family behind it all. Doug and Genna Wolkon moved to Kauai in 2007 after the birth of their first child and began using herbal remedies to aid their health. “Kauai empowered us with the ability to self-heal,” Doug says. The couple have taught themselves how to hand-harvest their crops, cure plants with solar dehydrators, and chop and blend everything into tea, culinary spices, superfood elixir powders, salves, and hydrosol sprays. The Wolkons run the farm with a team of 10 gardeners and herbalists, all the while raising their three children. Although the family sells most of the herbal elixers and teas at the local farmers’ market and at restaurants and health food stores, they also offer immersive farm tours. As visitors stroll the grounds and learn about the Wolkons’ permaculture techniques, they’re encouraged to taste samples straight from the garden, from the explosively sweet fresh stevia leaf to the mouth-tingling spilanthes herb. Just as fascinating as (and much more delicious than) a helicopter tour, it’s a chance to experience the island’s legendary flora from the ground up. The farmers grow 70 medicinal herbs and make seven loose-leaf teas, five herbal culinary tea powders, two healing salves, and seasonal hydrosol sprays. Make reservations to visit the garden at kauaifarmacy.com. They also have a stand at the Anaina Hou Farmers Market in Kilauea every Saturday.
The Medicine Garden
Story by: Brittany Lyte
Photo by: Mallory Roe
Doug and Genna Wolkon’s home tea garden is an acre-and-a-half of well-manicured herbs, wild with abundance. A slim tread of dirt serves as a footpath between hardy Hawaiian chili pepper plants and a bed of knee-high ginger. The grounds, delicately fenced with chicken wire, are impossible to explore without feathery brushes from a tulsi plant or the budding leaves of a mission fig. As backyard herbalists, the Wolkons draw upon the traditions of Polynesian, Chinese and ayurvedic medicine to make a variety of loose-leaf herbal teas. They call their business Kauai Farmacy because each of the seventy-some herbs they grow has medicinal value of one sort or another.
On a stroll through the garden Doug Wolkon plucks a red and sheeny leaf from a cranberry hibiscus tree, places it on his tongue and chews. “Like candy,” he smiles, savoring the delicate sweetness. Cranberry hibiscus adds a pop of flavor and a zip of vitamin C to the Women’s Wellness Tea, a tonic that also contains tulsi, ginger, bele spinach, moringa, lemongrass, turmeric and other herbs. Among the Wolkons’ blends are Tulsi Mint Tea, a digestive and palate cleanser, Vitalitea, an energy booster, and Love Potion Tea, which we leave to your imagination. Packaged in small tins, the teas are sold at the Kilauea Farmers Market, online and to visitors who come to tour the gardens.
Not every plant in the Wolkon’s tea garden goes into the teacup. Kauai Farmacy also produces drink powders, salves and hydrosols, as well as something called Buzz Chew, which is said to freshen both breath and mind. Its star ingredient is Spilanthes acmella, a.k.a the toothache plant, which numbs the gums and sets the mouth atingle. The teas, of course, tend to have a more soothing effect. “As for the flavor of a cup of tea, it should be exquisite all the way through,” Doug says. “Healing should be all about ease and happiness.”
The Golden Spice
Turmeric is good for your mind, body and soul
Kauai Traveler Magazine Spring 2017
By Mary Troy Johnston
Photos by Kauai Farmacy
The medicinal benefits of turmeric have been known throughout the centuries, first recognized by non-Western cultures in South Asia, China and the Middle East. Turmeric is central to the five-thousand-year-old tradition of holistic Ayurvedic medicine, originating in Northern India and still widely practiced today.
No one on Kaua’i knows better the history of turmeric in India than Vaidehi Herbert. She has lived here for 15 years where she pursues her passion of translating the ancient poetry of the Tamil region of Southern India, having produced numerous books. Vaidehi described to me how the Tamil poets wrote about turmeric over 2,000 years ago, between 3rd century BCE and 3rd century CE, when they developed the extensive literature known as Sangam poetry. She perused the poems to find references to turmeric. She finds that “fragrant turmeric was hung around the memorial stones as a decoration” to commemorate fallen warriors and also used in religious rituals. Vaidehi finds a charming reference to a scene where “women playing in a river used turmeric to wash their skins.” Another poem tells us that people in the mountains grow turmeric, ginger and black pepper. Modern science has come to recognize that black pepper ingested with turmeric enhances the absorption of the latter whereas ancient Tamils seemed to have known this intuitively! Piperine is the compound found in black pepper that aids in the absorption of curcumin, the active compound found in turmeric.
Where turmeric is concerned, the ancient Tamil past has met with the Kaua’i present. Our island provides fertile ground and a tropical climate for growing olena (turmeric). A member of the ginger family, turmeric is a rhizome, meaning it grows as a stem underground. When it is harvested, it shares the rough tubular appearance of edible ginger, except that it has its own distinct golden color, reminiscent of saffron, and the curvature of a shrimp (also noted by a Tamil poet). Turmeric infuses food with the same strong reddish-yellow hue and, for this reason, is sometimes used as a substitute for the more expensive saffron. As for its culinary use, the spice is best known as one of the basic ingredients of a curry (from kari in Tamil), when paired with other herbs and spices from India.
On island, makers of teas, juices, hot sauces and curry powders have renewed interest in developing products utilizing turmeric to promote physical and emotional well-being. Doug Wolkon of Kauai Farmacy, a firm believer in turmeric’s role in overall health, has developed a variety of related products on his tea farm. The Farmacy offers a Curry Blend that combines the health benefits of turmeric, kaffir lime and curry leaves, galangal and yellow ginger, and our island chili peppers known for their heat. He recommends his favorite, Cacao Olena powder constituted from the basic ingredients of cacao, turmeric and ginger to be used to make a hot tea or golden milk latte. Doug, in his blog post for Natural News, states that the “raw juice” (cold-pressed from the root) “is the most potent medicine for the liver and other organs as well as easy to apply externally.” Ancient medical traditions have long recommended applying turmeric to wounds, bruises, and skin irritations. Seeing turmeric as so integral to health maintenance, Doug writes, “We use turmeric as a daily tonic to keep the body, mind and spirit healthy and feeling alive.” These products are available at the Kïlauea Farmers Market on Saturday or directly from the tea farm, which also offers informative tours of the tropical plants grown there and their medical uses. Visit www.kauaifarmacy.com to learn about their farm and products.
There is no end to the beliefs about healing turmeric attributing anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, and antioxidant properties (at the very least) to the “golden spice.” Consequently, there is no end to turmeric-derived products on Kaua’i. Turmeric shots are available across the island from juice bars, as well as smoothies and other varieties. Janine Lynne has developed a Citrus Curry hot sauce for her Black Dog Farms Kauai that she mixes with yoghurt for a dip and adds to safflower oil (¼ cup hot sauce to ½ cup oil) as the base for vinaigrette. Kaua’i also boasts a number of island-crafted soaps infused with turmeric, harking back to the Tamil women using the spice as they bathed in the river. As Indian women are said to use turmeric in their cooking every day, it seems this exotic lesson has reached our small island in the Pacific.
Home cooks will appreciate this recipe provided by Vaidehi Herbert, who also taught Indian cooking classes from her home here for 10 years to raise funds to support schools and tsunami victims in her birthplace of rural Tamil Nadu state of India.
Onion Tomato Chutney Recipe
- Onion – 1 big red onion (finely diced)
- Tomatoes – 2 big (finely chopped)
- Olive oil – 8 Tablespoons
- Turmeric (powder) – 1/2 Teaspoon
- Cilantro – 2 Tablespoons (chopped)
- Salt – 1 Teaspoon, or to taste
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 Teaspoon
- Cumin powder – 1/2 Teaspoon
- Chili powder – 1 Teaspoon
- Curry Leaves – 10 leaves
Heat oil in a pan. When oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and turmeric. Sauté for 10 seconds. Add the curry leaves and chopped onion. Sauté for about 10 minutes on medium heat, covering the pan with a lid between stirring the onion. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt. Sauté for another 10 minutes. Add the cumin, chili pepper and chopped cilantro. Sauté for a few minutes.
The chutney can be served with tortillas, steamed rice and toasted bread.
January / February 21017
Flourishing in the heart of Kaua’i’s north shore is Kaua’i Farmacy, a two hectare herbal garden, tended to by owners Doug and Genna Wolkon.
Home to more than 60 medicinal heral plants, Kaua’i Farmacy offers tea for health and pleasure. As all harvesting is done by hand, Kaua’i Farmacy offers a premium quality of tea, selecting only the strongest, most vibrant plants to craft into herbal blends and supplements.
In addition to sourcing product for many of Hawai’i’s restaurants, Kaua’i Farmacy also offers guided tours of the farm, allowing visitors and residents an opportunity to experience the oasis first hand, and learn more about the history and culture of tea farming in Hawai’i.
FARMING, SERVING MEDICINAL HERBS
DECEMBER 14, 2016
Please tell us about your business.
Doug: We are a medicinal herb farm serving tea, powders, culinary spices, hydrosols and salves. We grow more than 70 different botanicals on the property.
Genna: Everything is planted from seed, harvested and handcrafted on our Kilauea farm.
What kind of remedies do your herbs provide?
Genna: We have herbs in our blends that can help in many ways, like boosting circulation, aiding digestion and calming the nervous system. We grow the comfrey plant, which is really good for bone, muscle and ligaments.
Doug: The teas calm the system, and bring unique and diverse vitamins and minerals into your system.
Genna: Basically, we grow herbs for every type of ailment or injury. We’re trying to bring back the lost art of plant medicine.
Can people use these herbs on a daily basis?
Doug: We create products that can easily be integrated into your lifestyle. We’ve created all of these products comprised of herbs like lemongrass, tulsi and ginger that are used in diets around the world daily. And so, for us, those are the kind of herbs that make their way into all of our teas, then we layer in the medicinal nature of our teas. That way they can be drunk daily.
Genna: And because some of us are really busy, we can’t always maybe brew a pot of tea, so we make culinary spices you can sprinkle onto food that can give you a boost of energy throughout the day, like our Green Energy powder. We also have hydrosols, like Tulsi hydrosol that’s amazing for calming the respiratory system, and Comfrey hydrosol that helps our bones and ligaments, and our Tea Tree hydrosol, which is antibacterial. You can use them topically or aromatically.
Genna Wolkon of Kauai Farmacy is committed to sharing the benefits of plant medicine with as many people as possible
Coco Zickos Photos
Why did you decide to open up this business?
Doug: When we moved to Kauai from the East Coast, we started this farm because we believed in the power of the plants and we believe they have the power to heal people, specifically if grown on Kauai.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your business?
Genna: Being empowered to have plant medicine at our fingertips for our wellbeing and our children. I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve relied on the plants to get us through situations.
Doug: And shipping it abroad and seeing our friends, family and others heal from the teas. Also, we have about eight people working here and we always have a couple of volunteers – these are people who dream of doing this but there aren’t that many opportunities. That’s another rewarding aspect – that we’re providing that opportunity to be part of a local medicinal and botanical movement.
Where can people purchase your products?
Doug: Saturday morning at the farmers market in Kilauea. We also have a few teas in all the health food stores, like Papayas and Harvest Market. We also are in restaurants, including JO2 and Hukilau Lanai, and we do a significant amount of online business.
Kauai Farmacy sells an assortment of products made with fresh, healing herbs
Are there ways can people learn more about your business?
Doug: We have a YouTube channel. We’re trying to create transparency so you can learn where your plant medicine is coming from.
Genna: We’re being really candid and open about sharing everything from seed to harvest to how we dehydrate. We use the videos to educate people about how the herbs help and how people can use them.
The fall 2016 edition of Edible Hawaiian Islands magazine; with a feature on Kauai Farmacy.
Posted Filed Under: Fall 2016, Features
This boutique herbal farm believes in healing from the inside out—and the ground up.
WRITTEN BY SARAH SCHULTZ
PORTRAITS BY DOMINIQUE DEFELICE
It’s a subtle sort of alchemy, but the transformative powers of herbs have been studied for thousands of years under Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, and by many cultures across the globe. Doug and Genna Wolkon of Kauai Farmacy—alongside a talented team of gardeners, blend creators, and three really cute kids—are bringing their products to the organic farming table.
The plants used in Kauai Farmacy’s arsenal of 100 percent organic herbal teas, culinary powders, and superfood blends is like taking a tasting tour of the rainbow: Deep purple tulsi, red hibiscus, calendula flowers the color of sunshine, and an assortment of jade, emerald and peridot-hued herbs that line the pathways of the gardens. They are all edible (or drinkable), and each one helps to tell the story of Kauai Farmacy.
This story begins with the noni leaf.
The noni is a canoe crop of Hawai‘i, and holds an important historical place in the islands’ commerce, diet and mythology. (The demigod Maui is said to have been resurrected by the noni leaf.) Now, scientists and integrative health professionals alike are looking into its cancer-fighting effects. The whole plant is packed with healing properties, but the fruit it bears has a pungent smell that makes it less than palatable. So, about nine years ago, Doug and Genna started experimenting with another part of the plant.
“The noni leaf was the first herb that we danced with when we got to the island, after a friend turned us onto it. It was charging our energy and circulation, making us hyper-aware of internal and external feelings,” the duo says. It was helping with Genna’s pregnancy weight from her first child; Doug lost 25 pounds of his former steakand- wine lifestyle. The leaf hadn’t hit the mainstream yet, and they couldn’t quite understand why. The Polynesians had used it for generations; it grows wild along the waterways, and across the islands. So, without much information at their disposal, Doug and Genna started answering their own questions about these lustrous green leaves. “We became knowledgeable. We began to harvest. And we started making tea,” Genna recounts.
They not only saw a business opportunity with their homemade tea blends, but also a way to reintegrate holistic healing back into people’s lives. In their previous lives, Doug and Genna worked in real estate finance and industrial design, respectively. Doug had even penned a book on economics, but says the business plan for a farm was harder to write. So, with just a palpable passion, an open-ended blueprint and a single tulsi plant in tow, the family took a leap of faith on the farm—and landed quite gracefully.
The property is situated on a 180-degree bend of the Kilauea Stream, which hugs the land and affords it with nutrient-dense silt and volcanic rock, while acting as a natural irrigation system. The size of their operation is predicated on how their gardens naturally grow—they are not quick to take the ‘āina for granted, which may be why it has given them so much in return. “We talk about how big we need and want to be, and every day we are organically checking in with the land and our team to see what feels right,” says Doug. “We walk lightly, and we are constantly reminded not to go too fast, as to continue our mission towards sustainability.”
Sustainability is a widely used term in organic farming circles, as opposed to traditional monocropping that strips the land of its good stuff—with no plans of replenishing it. Built around the concept of permaculture—a thoughtful method of developing ecosystems that simulates nature’s intentions—the gardens at Kauai Farmacy echo a sustainable community. Helper plants are used as purposeful shade for others; particular species reintroduce minerals and nutrients into the soil that others take away. Others are used to fence off pesky neighbors—a sentiment that may resonate with some. And insects play a large role in the community, from the microbials that break down the soil to the pollinators that keep things moving. (The bees even made it on the staff directory.) “The bees in our garden are cross-pollinating, creating new plant varieties for us,” says Genna. “For example, the African tulsi and lemon basil hybrid is very lovely and aromatically floral. We are actually letting nature dictate the business in a lot of ways.”
But any type of agriculture can be unpredictable—and Kauai Farmacy’s success has not been without a few hiccups. The aptly named Garden Isle gets a lot of rain and just as much sun, so the elements can be as challenging as they are beneficial. In some cases, the growing conditions have been too good. “We were so excited that turmeric grew everywhere. But then it actually grew everywhere,” says Doug. One of the couple’s favorite plants— and a mainstay in the Children’s Wellness, Endurance, Green Energy, Love Potion, Vitalitea and Women’s Wellness blends— gotu kola is a healing herb, but it grows like a weed. It was running rampant throughout their gardens, and they had to individually hand-pick each root out. Today, they have a separate garden full of what they call “the brain tonic,” giving gotu kola its own space to thrive. They don’t see any plants as invasive, and understand that their resilience has a place in nature and in the blends themselves.
The art of tea-making and the study of herbs have deep roots in many cultures, and Doug and Genna are helping to pioneer its resurgence. The team welcomes visitors to the farm on Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. (reserve first!), and offers educational tours and tea samples. Not only is it a visit to a beautiful sanctuary within the beautiful sanctuary of Kaua‘i, but it’s also a chance to see how much passion goes into the business. “This is our purpose. It’s a love that goes beyond words.”
For a full list of products and more information, please visit www.kauaifarmacy.com
Hey. It’s Dan. I just wrote this and wanted you to read it. Let’s get cleaned up, alkalized, hydrated and regenerated.
Acids from processed foods, stress, consumer products, pharmaceuticals, tap water and polluted air equals pain, stiffness, inflammation, headaches, irritation and low energy. Acids are toxic to the blood ph and force the body to store them in your tissues to stay balanced. The body then holds onto water to protect itself from these cellular irritants. This is the underlying cause of excess weight, lack of mental clarity and disease. An overload of acids waste and metabolic debris. The most popular word for it these days is TOXINS!
To eliminate acids (toxins) you must use alkalizing elements which are concentrated in green plants as alkaline minerals. Teas work great as a medium to deliver alkaline minerals. The pure water used to brew the tea help to flush the now neutralized acids from the lymphatic system, liver, kidneys and all the bodies cells.
The freshest most potent herbs come from the Kauai Farmacy on the beautiful garden island of Kauai. These herbs are air dried, raw and very potent. You can use these herbs to detox your body, lose weight and heal from disease. Hydrate and alkalize your body daily with these herbs to neutralize the acids that result from our modern lifestyle.
My personal favorite is Love Potion mixed with Puritea in the morning for maximum cleansing of the toxins released during sleep and a few nights a week I’ll use Tranquility to unwind after along day. I’m making some Vitalitea right now. ?
Check out their website and go to the ‘WE GROW’ link to get a lot of FREE INFORMATION about the herbs they grow, the specific uses of each plant and how they can benefit you.
Aloha. Thank you.