Growing A Garden The Wiki Way
No need for noisy weed whackers, lawn mowers or tillers. Alan Joaquin invented an “idiot-proof” organic garden with his company The Wiki Garden.
“Hawaii imports 90 percent of its food right now,” Joaquin says. “We have year-round growing conditions, so it’s just insane that we are importing all these containers of food from the Mainland.”
The Wiki Garden is three feet of soil in a mesh sock with an irrigation tube in it. Customers can visit the factory for a hands-on look at the 1,000-square-foot demonstration garden in Waimanalo, where 125 Wiki Gardens bear 150 varieties of vegetables, herbs and fruits. Plug The Wiki Garden irrigation tube to a garden hose, cut holes for the plant seeds or starter plants, and that is how the garden grows. The product also is available at Waikiki Worm Company and some City Mill locations.
Carol Ai May, co-owner of City Mill, says the only thing she keeps alive are silk flowers. She and husband Mike say they are now having fun growing and eating their own fresh herbs, such as basil and parsley.
“When we eat our first tomato, I have to take pictures of it,” she says enthusiastically about their Wiki Garden.
The biggest challenge Joaquin has, he says, is teaching people just what The Wiki Garden is. To overcome that problem, he strives to make everything as simple as possible, including his Web site and brochures.
The Kaiser High graduate’s varied career path includes owning his own commercial landscaping business and working as an airline pilot. He also owns Envirotech Biosolutions, which recycles organic green waste.
The Hawaii Kai resident says he created The Wiki Garden out of necessity. He and wife Tannya, a broadcast journalist, were alarmed that the average child receives four times more exposure than an adult to cancer causing pesticides from food.
“We didn’t want that food going into our newborn,” Joaquin says about son Kaimana. “I told Tannya I could grow our own food. I researched techniques and I realized that most people who tried to start an organic garden failed.”
For the debut of The Wiki Garden in November 2009, he donated one to the Institute for Human Services, which has a program to teach families in its shelter for women and children about sustainability and organic food.
Joaquin appreciates the support of his staff, customers, friends and family. His business partner Judith Guido arranged for The Wiki Garden to be given away as a prize during Earth Day promotions two weeks ago for NBA basketball team the New Jersey Nets in two contests honoring those who live a green life. The promotion included a life-size cardboard cutout of him holding a Wiki Garden on the basketball court. He jests that that’s the closest he’ll get to being a professional basketball player because one time when he got the ball, he ran the wrong way with it.
To give back to the community, he set up AlohaVictoryGardens.org, where 12 Wiki Gardens will be given away each year to individuals, schools or companies.
“It’s good for the plants, and good for the people who are growing them,” says
Joaquin. “It’s also fun. More and more people are getting into it.”
The Wiki Garden demonstration garden is located at 41-530A Waikupanaha St. For more information, call 396-9454 (WIKI), or log on to www.thewikigarden.com.
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