Tropical Permaculture Fruit Forest Feeds Off Grid Family

Tropical Permaculture Fruit Forest Feeds Off Grid Family

Alright! This is John Kohler of
Today we have another exciting episode for you, and this is super special, exciting episode
for you guys because I’ve been waiting literally for years to do this episode at my friend’s
place. And this trip to Maui I’m actually doing it for you guys, this is definitely
going to be one amazing episode cuz my friend is actually an amazing person doing some really
cool stuff, and what I’m going to show you guys in this episode is something that I aspire
to. If I had ten acres, you know I would do it very similar to this. Of course I would
do it a little differently but I would do very similar and model a lot of what I’m
going to show you guys in this episode. So the first thing I want to show you guys is
that you know, we’re in an area of Maui, one of the valleys of Maui, it’s a beautiful
area, and even in this area of Maui there are people with lawns, right. As you guys know, if you guys have been watching
me for awhile, I’m not a big fan of lawns. I mean unless you have kids or grazing horses
or something, I mean, it doesn’t do much for you, right? You could have your lawn,
live in your house, but then you got to go to the supermarket to keep buying food each
and every week, or you’re not going to be eating, right? And I think this whole consumerism
or consumption society that we live in definitely needs a change for things to get better, so
the solution is actually what my friend is doing next door on his property. He simply
has ten acres of land that he started this project 15 years ago and there’s a few peculiar
things about my friend that’s been able to make this work for him and the very simple
fact is that he lives off the grid. He eats 99.9 percent of what he grows on his land;
he does not go out and buy groceries. He eats his food fresh. He gets spring water that’s
on to the property. I mean what else, I mean he’s married, so
he’s all set up in life. He’s got a nice house that he’s built with his own hands
using many materials found on property, as well as many other sustainable and as sustainable
as he could possibly make it. So I mean, this is true sustainability in my sense of the
word, using the minimal amount of input, bringing the minimal kind of inputs into the land,
but using what he has on the land to create fertility on the land and literally to grow
his own food. Now he has been dialing this property in for the last 15 years, so I want
you guys to be aware that this did not happen overnight. I’ve been visiting him now for
about the last ten years. My last trip here was three years ago, and between three years
ago and today, a lot of changes have taken place. Like when I go on a vacation and leave
my place for a week, I come back to my garden a week later like, “Wow! My plants have
grown so much.” But when I’m literally here three years later, I’m like, “Wow
that’s changed, that’s different.” It’s always so cool to visit my friend’s
place. So anyways, let’s go ahead and take you up to the ten acres and share with you
guys what he’s doing and how he’s being. Pretty much for me, ultimate in sustainability
because he has everything he needs and he actually barely doesn’t like to leave his
house too much. So as you guys can see, we’re standing in his driveway here. And his driveway
stops well short of the house up yonder, and I mean the main thing here is that, think
about it, if you don’t have to go out and buy groceries then bring them home and cart
them into your house like every day, every couple days, why does your driveway need to
go to your house, right? It doesn’t because you’re not bringing a lot of things in.
He doesn’t bring a lot of things into his property from off property because literally
he has everything he needs here. What more does man need if you’ve got the fruits and
vegetables he eats, good spring water to drink, nice weather, a Mac computer, and of course,
a nice wife or lady to love? Nothing else so his driveway stops well short of his house.
Just a couple of years ago when I came here, he had a driveway up to his house because
he was still in the middle of construction and bringing a few things in to finish up
his house, but now that it’s finished, his driveway is short of the house, and he has
converted the area that was formerly driveway into guess what? Growing more fruit trees
and plants that are edible and also useful. So here’s the thing. This is really weird.
If I had to describe the place, I couldn’t say it’s my friend’s farm — that would
not be accurate. If I said, “Oh this is a permaculture fruit forest!” That’s kind
of right because he uses some permaculture principles, but he doesn’t do strict permaculture.
If I said, “Old school plantsman” and you guys from the U.K. know what a plantsman
is, that’s somebody that really appreciates plants as more than a gardener and more than
a farmer. He has a fruit garden, not so right. He has a fruit orchard, that’s not so right
either. It’s all of these things, but none of these things because what he has here…how
he likes to describe his place is he simply calls it “home.” And literally that’s
what he’s done here. He’s designed all the systems here, planted all the fruit trees,
planted all the vegetable gardens, all the ornamental plants here to his liking because
it is his and his wife’s home. To make it pretty, to make it beautiful, to make it functional
so that he can eat, live, and enjoy his time here literally in paradise. And so, probably
the best thing I can call it is “permaculture fruit forest” but that wouldn’t even be
accurate. I guess we’ll just let him call it “home.” And we all know the time that
it takes us to make our homes nice, especially for some of the ladies out there watching
this episode. Ladies especially, because I have a bachelor
pad still, like to make the home nice — hang up pictures, clean it regularly, and all the
little things that make the home nice. If you’re a guy, you’re going to make your
home nice by landscaping and making sure you’re going to be properly fed with fruit trees
and be sustainable in case shit hits the fan when imports drop coming into Hawaii or whatever
happens. He’s literally self-sustainable here. He doesn’t really need much else.
And that’s the real cool thing and the elements that I want to get across. This is possible
in many places, although we are here in Hawaii, the tropics, and I believe that people in
general are tropical creatures. I mean, would we be able to live outside in New York City
in the winter without heaters and furnaces and all this kind of stuff? I don’t know.
It’d be not comfortable but here in the tropics I believe man originated and we like
to live, literally we can live without clothes. This is not a hippie commune, don’t worry.
But yeah, this is a real easy location to live, plus it gets plenty of rain and of course
fresh air and things, let me tell you, grow beautifully here. So he’s focused on tropical
fruits, and he has over 300 different kinds of fruits. Not just 300 varieties, but 300
varieties and species of fruits. Some are very rare, unique, and really not found anywhere
else in the United States, except maybe the country where they’re from. He gets some
of these things very special. He’s the ultimate fruit collector I’ve ever met, and he probably
has the largest collection of rare, unique species and varieties of fruits that I’ve
ever met. What I want to do next is share with you guys and show you guys around the
place. Some of the more common fruits, and uncommon fruits that you might not be familiar
with. This episode specifically is going to be interesting for people who live in the
tropics. If you live in California, New York City, Wisconsin, Canada, or whatever that’s
not a tropical location, then you will not be able to grow many of these plants. Of course,
yes, I visited a place in Minnesota that had arboretum, conservatory under a glass house
and they were growing many of these crops, but aside from that you’re not going to
be able to grow many of these. If you want to grow any of these, you’ll
want to move somewhere tropical like maybe South Florida, or Hawaii, where you’ll be
able to grow, enjoy, and eat some of the crops here. Without further ado, let’s go ahead
and go on a little tour. So the first stop on my tour today is, I wanted to say that
man cannot live on food alone. He needs hydration, especially here in the tropics where it gets
hot. I’ve actually been sweating all day; I was harvesting macadamia nuts earlier. Man
needs hydration, and yes while he does have some awesome spring water here, even a better
source of water in my opinion is living water. Living water filtered up by, guess what? The
coconut palm. Now the coconut palm’s not a tree; it’s actually a palm because it
doesn’t have wood like a tree does. It has all these little fibrous stands growing up
to basically bring all the liquid and the nutrients out of the ground so it’s filtered
by the palm and fills each of the coconuts with this delicious water that’s filtered
by the tree and also naturally sweetened. So he does not drink soda pop, he does not
drink coffee or any kind of beverage out of a plastic bottle, can, or anything like that.
He drinks out of nature’s packaging, which is the coconut. And I need to give a disclaimer:
the coconut is my favorite beverage of choice; I’d rather drink fresh coconut water before
than anything in a plastic bottle, can, or jar, and I want to encourage you guys to drink
as much coconut water as you can. It’s really rich in electrolytes, and it also has plant
cytokines, which in my opinion is anti-aging. Now besides just harvesting the coconuts,
nothing here is wasted. He doesn’t just drink a coconut then chuck the shell and put
it in the garbage can and it gets taken to the landfill and doesn’t really break down
right. Everything that is on property stays on property. He’s using his most valuable
resource basically, the resources he’s creating on site to add that fertility because think
about it, this coconut palm absorbed the nutrients and the water to make the coconuts amazingly. And then, there’s nutrients in the water,
also the young coconut meat, the jelly meat (which is delicious) but also in the husk,
there’s nutrients in the palm fronds. So instead of throwing it away like many Americans
throw their yard waste away all the time, I want to encourage you guys to compost it
on site. He composts everything on site, so let me go ahead and show you guys a picture
of what it looks like underneath these coconut palms. So you might think he’s a cannibal
here because what you’re seeing behind me is all these drunken coconuts. Yes, the coconuts
been drunk. All these coconut palms have been drunk and basically, he composts them underneath
the coconuts. Think about it, the best food for the coconut palm is other coconut palms. So he uses all the palm fronds, all the leftover
coconut husks underneath the coconut palm to basically compost down and feed nutrients
back into the coconut palms so he doesn’t have to buy that commercial, chemical fertilizer.
As a matter of fact, he’s all organic here and he barely sprays anything on his trees,
and he does not bring in any outside fertility. He has in the past only brought in basically
one thing, which is one of my favorite nutrients, the rock dust, and he spread 2,000 pounds
of rock dust per acre in his area where he has all the fruit trees and in the area where
he has his vegetable garden, he put even higher concentrations of the rock dust. And every
time I come here I learn so much from my friend here. The thing I learned this time, because
I always say there’s no such thing as too much rock dust, you can’t burn, and he said,
“John you can apply too much rock dust. If you bury the plant, that’s too much.” If you haven’t heard about rock dust, be
sure to check my other videos out, videos with my good friend Don Weaver, as well as
other episodes I’ve done on my own, sharing more beneficial information on rock dust.
If you don’t learn anything else from this video, which there’ll be a lot of learn
about, you want to start adding rock dust to remineralize your soil to create healthier
plants, more bug- and disease-resistant plants, larger plants that not only yield more, but
in my opinion taste better. Right now, I think it’s time for me to drink a coconut. Alright,
got this baby open, man. It’s time to get drunk. Wow, that’s a good one. So one of
the things you may not know about, if you’ve never drank coconut water before, is that
there are many flavors in coconuts. Number one, there are many varieties of coconuts.
Fortunately enough, he has planted many dwarf varieties, so they stay short and he can easily
harvest them instead of getting super tall. Another thing is that some coconuts are sweeter
than others by nature. And if you go buy coconuts at your local Asian
market or Whole Foods, you get the Thai coconuts that look like a yurt or teepee thing, and
those all tend to be the sweet Thai coconuts. I like when you harvest the coconuts, you
can harvest them at pretty much any different age. If they’re super young, then they don’t
taste so sweet, but if they get really young, this is a little bit more than just young,
it has a really nice flavor. And if you leave them on the tree for too long, they actually
kind of get a little fermented and carbonated on the tree. And that reminds me of drinking
cream soda. With over two dozen coconut trees, he’s never going to run out of coconut water
to drink. I’m definitely going to plant at least two dozen dwarf coconut trees on
my property one day, like he has here, and I’ll never run out of coconuts either. What
I want to talk about next is what’s behind me. It’s bananas. He has a whole little
banana patch, and I’m confident bananas are the first things he grew because they
yield relatively quickly compared to some of the other fruit trees that he’s growing. While he does have many common fruits, such
as the bananas and the oranges and the tangerines, papayas, he has a lot of other cooler stuff
that I want to focus on for you guys. If you guys live in the tropics, you guys should
probably have a banana or two if you have the space for it, absolutely. But if you don’t
have the space for it, I would highly encourage you guys to grow unique, exotic crops that
literally money cannot buy. He has so many different things here that I have never, ever
seen in stores before, and there’s probably about a good quarter of a dozen different
fruits that I’ve tried alone on this trip, and I’ve been here about three, four different
times in the last ten years. So, there’s always something new and in season and he’s
planted such a variety of things he always has different fruits ripening at different
times of the year, so that he never runs out of the fresh fruits that make up the majority
of his calories. In any case, next I want to show you guys down by some of the papaya
plants that he has growing. Besides just growing food, he’s done an
amazing job aesthetically, and that’s why I like to call him a plantsman. Not only does
he collect rare, unique, exotic varieties of fruits, tropical fruits, but he also has
amazingly landscaped place. I want you guys to consider this: he’s worked literally
every day for the last fifteen years to make this home, to put the effort in to make it
look like it does. This does not happen overnight, and it has taken blood, sweat, and tears probably
to make this all happen. The results show. The proof’s in the pudding. Let’s go ahead
and pan across the way and show you guys the intense amount of ground cover that needs
no mowing. That also fixes nitrogen to make the soil more nutritious for the land and
also the fruit trees. I’m in a field in The Sound Music, but I’m
not a singer. What we’re looking at is basically all of his ground cover is done very well.
Most of it, although he has several different varieties of ground cover, he uses mostly
what’s behind me; this is known as perennial peanut grass, even though it’s not really
grass. It’s a ground cover that spreads out. You don’t just plant perennial peanut
all over; you plant one plant in a little square area and over time it fills in until
it fills in, and even after it fills in you have to continually weed and so one of the
things I want to let you guys know is that he works at this very hard each and every
day to control the weeds. One of his theories and things he goes by is that either you have
weeds, all weeds, or no weeds. Either you embrace the weeds or you don’t
have any weeds. And he tends to not embrace the weeds so when he sees them, he pulls them.
You guys could do it either way; some weeds are useful, some weeds can be composed and
used to created additional biomass. He doesn’t want to deal with weeds so he’s planted
our certain areas with perennial peanut grass to look super nice. When we’re walking around,
he’ll see a weed, pick it up, and compost it so that he has really nice place. You guys
pick up your home, right? Inside your home you vacuum right, hopefully. And that’s
what he does here to the outside of his house. He picks up and maintains it so that it’s
a nice place to live like any other person would inside their house as well. I wanted
to go ahead and show you guys while I’m walking around his property. This is like
the ultimate park, with no maintenance. I mean look, a field of perennial peanut grass
you can play on, nitrogen fixes, doesn’t need to be mowed, low maintenance, everybody
in the tropics should use perennial peanut grass if they’re able. He has different
ginger plants over there, nice ornamentals, big ornamental tree in the back back. Over
in this side, he has basically really nice landscaped, symmetrical kind of plants, the
same kind of plants all over. He has poinsettias up there, and then we go into a little rock
garden area. The birds of paradise over there. I wish botanical gardens were this cool and
this well-manicured and landscaped. I haven’t seen too many other places in the world I
visited that were seriously this nice. But once again, if it’s your house, and this
is where you live, you’re going to make it nice. You’re going to make it nice. Next,
I have to climb up that rock wall to get to the other side to show you the papayas that
I want to share with you guys today. What we’re looking at now are many different
papaya, and people like to call them papaya trees and yeah they’re kind of like a tree,
but once again, papayas, they aren’t a tree either. They’re kind of like an herbaceous
plant, not exactly like a banana, which is not a banana tree either. A bit confusing. But anyway, I’m going to
call them papaya plants, because they don’t have real wood either. As you guys can see,
he has beautiful papayas. The thing I want to stop and talk about right here right now
with you guys is about using all your different microclimates and all your different areas
on your property, because they all offer distinct advantages and disadvantages. I want you guys
to look at them as opportunities. You can think, “Oh man, I’m buying this property.
Half of it’s frickin’ up a rock slope and I can’t grow anything there because
I want flat orchard land.” But hey, he’s used this area, added organic matter, made
the land fertile, and now he’s using it to his benefit to grow papaya, and I think
this is one awesome-looking papaya grove with all the papayas with the volcanic rocks in
the background. The volcanic rocks and the soil probably here tend to drain well and
also the volcanic rocks hold some heat so this is probably a warmer area than some other
areas in the field. The other cool thing here on Maui, where he
is, he’s tested his papayas and they’re non-GMO. I’m glad that one of the recent
things that happened in the last election here on Maui is that there’s a GMO moratorium
here on Maui, which I believe needs to happen everywhere. And as long as GMO companies can
prove that the GMOs are safe, then they can grow. And there’s a process that they need
to go through, and that’s fair too. The GMO companies, if they want to grow it, they
just have to prove that it’s safe, not a big deal. But if they can’t, then they can’t
grow it. So even home gardeners are not allowed to plant GMO seeds knowingly, but the problem
is there’s potential GMO contamination. I’ve heard statistics like a high percentage
of papaya seeds have been cross-pollinated and now contain the GMO gene. Luckily, his
papayas here grown are not contaminated and so he’s able to grow GMO-free organic and
best papayas, and that’s actually what I ate for breakfast today. And I would recommend
the variety. One of the cool things is he’s literally
traveled and sought out the world for different unique varieties that are to his liking. Once
again, this is his home. He’s not a farmer, he’s not selling the produce. They go, “Oh
man, there’s so many papayas, what does he do, sell it?” No, he eats it all, gives
it to friends, or composts it. And he’s very particular. He’s like a connoisseur.
I know some of you guys out there watching are like wine connoisseurs; you won’t buy
the two buck chuck, right? Nasty, right? And he’s like that with his fruit. If a papaya,
oh it’s too wet, the last week these papayas aren’t the best, I’m just going to eat
something else, because he has so many options to choose from at any given meal. And he always
chooses basically instinctively what he desires at that time and also, what tastes good to
him. I would encourage you guys to maybe eat this way as well. So what we’re looking
at is his pineapple patch. You’re in Hawaii, you gotta eat some pineapples.
I think it’s a sad state that common tropical fruits that are available at a grocery store
near you such as bananas and pineapples are picked far too unripe and never fully develop
the complex flavors that they should. In addition, the varieties of the bananas and pineapples
that you buy are very limited. For example, the bananas, you’re mostly buying are the
Cavendish variety. I imagine that every time you went to the grocery store and you can
only buy Granny Smith apples, you guys know that there are Red Delicious, Fuji, different
kinds of apples. Imagine that the apples were Granny Smith always. To me, the Cavendish
bananas are like that, like Granny Smith apples; they suck so bad and you have so many cool
unique varieties here. But the same thing with the pineapples. The Cayenne pineapple, I believe, is one of
the most commonly sold. There’s the Smooth Cayenne pineapple, the most commonly sold
pineapple. You’re only getting one variety, and everybody thinks pineapples are yellow.
Guess what? Pineapples also come in white and he’s not wasting time with the yellow
pineapples here. He’s got a whole little grove here of the white sugar pines, and those
guys are super delicious. One of my favorite things to do with the white sugar pine is
to take them, cut them into small bits, freeze them, and then put them through a Champion
juicer and make frozen pineapple ice cream. Hundred percent frozen white sugar pine. It’s
the bomb. Another thing I want you guys to pay attention to, if you look very closely,
all around the pineapple plants he has it mulched. He’s not letting the sun hitting
the ground, he’s not letting weeds grow up, he’s got heavily mulched with all kinds
of twigs and sticks. Parts of trees, and this is basically to add nutrients to the garden. I actually think it looks kind of cool how
he’s done it here, and I know some people might say, “Well John, why doesn’t he
chip them up?” Well number one, because he lives off the grid, doesn’t want to bring
in inputs such as gasoline. He doesn’t chip things up; he just puts it underneath whole.
And guess what, chipped or whole it will always break down because natural materials will
always compost. In nature, there’s no such thing as waste and here, yes. Things take
a little longer to degrade but the fungal action, the fungi in the soil will come up
and devour all the wood material because that’s their food source and they incorporate it
into the ground in a way that is good for the ground. It’s non-water soluble, and one of the problem
that he sees is that all the water-soluble chemical synthetic fertilizers that are now
being applied to land, that there’s a lot of runoff. So this is one way that you’ll
assure that you are never going to pollute the environment and also the plants are going
to get the nutrition that they need to grow and thrive without using any chemicals or
synthetic fertilizers. So what we’re looking at now is an exotic fruit tree that I would
recommend that you guys grow if you live in the tropics. It’s one of the following:
it’s either a jack fruit, a cempedak, which is related to jack fruit or a cempedak, which
is a cross between jack fruit and cempedak. He’s actually gone out and gotten the best
varieties that taste the best, that do well in this climate here, and that’s what he
grows so he has only some of the top best fruits and some of the best genetics. By the
Ziman pink jackfruit that I ate earlier, I would definitely have to agree. Now, I want to encourage you guys, once again
if you have a property, grow some unique and exotic different varieties. You could go down
and buy tangerines at the store at the farmers’ market commonly, but how often do you ever
see cempedak ? I mean I’ve never seen cempedak
at a farmers’ market. I have seen jack fruit, and that’s more commonly available, but
literally you could grow things if you’ve got the land and you’ve got some space to
grow things at, literally money can’t buy and you can enjoy new flavors and tastes and
sensations. One of the cool things about this trip is I got to try the cempedak
for the first time and of all things, it reminded me of eating a McDonald’s Big Mac. I think
it was mostly because of the Big Mac sauce. And that’s like the jackfruit — tastes
like Juicy Fruit gum. So, all these big food companies are trying to rip off what fruit
would naturally taste like, so I would encourage you guys to eat fruit instead of highly processed,
refined foods. What we’re looking at behind me are some old school mango trees that are
super tall, super huge planted many years. But I’m not really interested in showing
you the mango trees, what I am interested in showing you guys is what’s growing up
the mango trees, literally as a wall. Now this is not just a wall of vines, this is
a very special vine I would grow if I had a hurricane fence or old school mango trees.
An edible vine. So an edible vine is called simply Jamaican passion fruit, or Jamaica
lilikoi in the islands. And this passion fruit is unlike any passion fruit you’ve tried.
Most passion fruits have that sour taste, the purple ones, or the yellow ones. These ones are actually orange and they taste
sweet and fruity — one of the most delicious passion fruits that I’ve tasted to date.
Let’s go ahead and head over there and see if we can find us a ripe one. The best place
to find a passion fruit is not on the vine and climbing the vine because it’s probably
not going to support you, is to literally look on the ground. The only thing you’re
competing with when they fall on the ground is the ants. The ants love these guys because
they’re super sweet; they’ll actually burrow into them. There’s different fruits
on the ground that have holes and they’ve already been eaten, but check it out, we’ve
got two of them right here. Here’s one right here. The way I like to eat these guys is take the
little tip end — that’s like the nipple end, I like to call it, because it looks like
a nipple — and dig that out with your finger, and we’re just going to make a little wee
hole in there and you’re going to put this up to your mouth and suck. Yeah, I like sucking
my passion fruit. And you get the juicy, sweet goodness out. I can only describe this as
like drinking some kind of fruity, punch drink when I was a kid. There’s no bitter, sour
flavor at all, just sweet goodness from the Jamaica lilikoi plant. I want to encourage
you guys, if you grow passion fruit or lilikoi, grow the Jamaican kind. So what we’re looking
at now is basically his fruit orchard. And this is not like a standard home orchard,
where everything stays ten feet or twenty feet and he keeps things trimmed down. He
just lets the trees grow as they will. In general trees are trimmed so they’re easier
to harvest, and what he does is let nature take her course. This lets him not work as
hard because he doesn’t have to cut the trees and trim the trees and prune the trees
and all that stuff. He just lets them grow how they want. In that respect, he’s provided
a space for them to grow, so he’s spaced most plants out like 25, 30 feet between the
different plants. As you guys see, there’s a big open space here in the middle and that’s
because he’s used all his land to plant the fruit trees that he’s liked. Some of
the trees that he’s planted in the past maybe didn’t do so well, didn’t yield
a lot, didn’t taste so good so guess what, he’s cut them down and replanted new fruit
trees. There’s a new one there and there. Or he’s
doing top work and cutting them and grafting new varieties on to them that’ll yield better
and also taste better. He has so many varieties of fruit trees. He took me on a tour and he
was shouting out names to me and I can’t even remember them all. I know some of them,
and I know one of his favorite ones is right behind me somewhere. It’s actually called
meringue, and I’ve heard that’s very good. I haven’t even had one to date, so one of
these days I look forward to trying some meringue fruit — look that up, meringue fruit. I
mean there’s so much different variety in the fruits and once again, he has over 300
varieties of different kinds of varieties and species of fruits so literally he can
eat a different fruit every day of the year and never get bored. So now we’re looking at yet another fruit
tree, and he has so many I’m not going to be able to go over all of them this trip especially
because a lot of them are fruiting right now and I’m tending to go toward the ones that
are fruiting and have a lot of fruit on them so you guys can see what they are. What we’re
looking at here is actually called the mamey sapote and if you liked pumpkin pie, you’ll
love mamey sapote because to me it tastes pretty much the same; it has that same rich,
thick consistency in the fruit. It’s not watery, it’s very dense and filling. With
one nice-sized mamey I’ll be totally good, and it’s cool to see the tree in its budding
and flowering stage right now. They just all appear and look, it’s getting pollinated
by the bees, all on the branches of the tree. And in addition this is a beautiful tree.
Another thing I really want to key you guys in on is if you guys haven’t been to the
tropics I really encourage you to visit the tropics especially if you’re a fruit lover.
Tropical fruits in my opinion are far more interesting than the temperate climate fruits.
They’re so many more varieties and they’re literally, he’s gotten ones from all over
other tropical areas in the world — Southeast Asia and all this kinds of stuff — and brought
them here and been able to grow them and enjoy them in the good old U.S.A. So what we’re
looking at now is the almighty longan, also known as the dragon’s eye fruits. One of
my favorites, it’s currently in seasons now, it’s very similar to the lychee, if
you’ve had those, or the rambutans. But personally for me, I prefer a good longan
over the others. They have such a unique flavor and we’re going to go ahead and try one
of these guys for you. They look like little grapes but you don’t just pop these in your
mouth, you have to peel off the little skin thing there so I pop it open and it’s called
dragon’s eye because if you pop it open, if you guys look very carefully, look at that.
I’m going to go ahead and give you guys a close up. The fruit looks like a dragon’s
eye because it’s got the black seed in the middle and this is a variety that has a small
seed. Nice tropical flavor. Now, it has the consistency of the grape,
but it tastes nothing like a grape; it’s sweeter than a grape, more flavorful. It’s
just a flavor that I love. So another unique and uncommon fruit that he’s growing, just
yet another reason to grow things on your own because you can grow things that literally
I’ve never seen in the store, is right here. And these are so good you probably won’t
see them in the store because if you have a tree you’ll want to eat them all yourself.
Unfortunately they’re not ripe enough for me to eat because they need to be dark red,
but this is simply known as the peanut butter fruit on previous trips I do believe I have
had it and yes, amazingly enough, it reminds you of eating peanut butter, and it’s in
a fruit. The diversity of fruits are simply amazing,
but amazingly the diversity that is growing here is even more amazing because this is
just one homeowner’s lot on his personal property that he grows just for himself. It’s
like I have a vegetable garden and one day I’m going to have a fruit orchard, pretty
much like this one, to feed myself and my family. I would encourage everybody out there
to take responsibility to grow a good portion of the food for yourself as well as your family
because in my opinion, the food system of today, whether it’s conventional or even
organic, is not growing food in the most responsible or best manner, and also when you do it yourself,
it’s just always going to be better. So while he is mostly growing fruits here, he
has a small vegetable garden close to the house and also he’s growing a really cool
vegetable here. This is one I would recommend you guys to
grow in the tropics because it literally grows as like a tree or a shrub, I mean this thing’s
tearing out at ten feet, some of the tallest katuk, or sauropus, I’ve ever seen. Now
the cool thing about the katuk is that as you guys can see, it’s making these beautiful
little flowers and it just looks like an ornamental plant but you could use this as a hedge, as
he has done, and the other cool thing is it makes these little fruits that you can eat,
but that’s not the purpose of these fruits. These fruits are for the seed, but it’s
propagated easily by cutting, and that’s the most normal way it is propagated. But
another reason I like this stuff is because you can harvest the leaves and eat them. I’ve
so missed that flavor that I haven’t had in so long. This is probably my favorite to
eat leafy green in the whole world. My friend says it tastes like eating peanut
butter, I don’t know maybe the peanut butter fruit tastes more like eating peanut butter,
but it has a nutty, sugar snap pea flavor, like between peanut butter and sugar snap
pea. It is one of the most delicious leafy greens that you could ever grow and it will
only grow in the tropics. So if you live in the tropics, get some katuk, I have had some
episodes on katuk before, you can if you live in South Florida, an easy place to get it
is called Echo. Another place they have it in South Florida, West Palm Beach, is Excalibur
Nursery. They actually have the standard, green variety katuk, and also more rare variegated
variety. Grow some katuk, and I’ll be over for lunch. I know what you guys might be thinking:
John, if he lets his fruit trees grow like 50 feet tall or 20 feet tall, however tall
they get depending on the fruit tree and the variety and the cultivar and all this kind
of stuff, how does he harvest the fruits? Does he have one of those baskets, one of
those things that grab it or whatever? No, what he simply does is really easy, because
he’s like lazy gardener or lazy plantsman, is he looks down at the ground because in
general, for the most part, fruit trees will drop their fruit when they’re ripe. So he
basically takes the offering from the fruit tree that’s on the ground and he checks
every day because otherwise bugs, animals will get it. And you can have the ripest stuff.
Yes of course there are times when he does harvest his fruit, but for the most part he
lets the fruit give it up. And I like when fruit trees give it up. And I like when my
girlfriend gives it up, too, but that’s another topic. Anyway, what we’re looking
at here is one of his half a dozen different nut trees. You might think of Hawaii, you
instantly think of macadamia nut, but there are other nuts that grow here as well. One
of the cool ones that he’s growing that I actually haven’t tried fresh is the peewee
nut, which is a nut that is probably higher in fat even than the macadamia nut. It’s a really rich, really rich nut. Almost
approaching oil in the amount of fat it contains because it’s mostly fat. The one we’re
looking at here is simply called the Malabar chestnut and you could look down and I don’t
know if we can see any nuts down here, but I can see the shells that’d actually broken
open. And this is what the nut looks like here, I actually have had it, but it looks
like all of the Malabar chestnuts that have dropped off the tree are now sprouting and
growing into a new tree right there. Another way he does some of the plant propagation
is he lets the trees drop the fruit, and he’ll have shoots and plants come up from the bottom
that he can then harvest and pot up and distribute to other people. I do want to let you guys
know that if you think this place looks nice and you want to hire him or have him come
over, he’s not available for hire or anything like that. This is not his business. He does
this as his life. He’s just simply making his home nice and
growing food for him and his family. Something any one of us would do. He doesn’t sell
the plants or the seeds either. He just does this as a hobby for fun, and I’m glad I
got to come here today because it’s actually a rare event or occasion that anyone’s ever
been able to film here. So now what we’re looking at is an avocado tree. Yes it’s
ah-vocado, not a-vacado if you live in the South. But this is an avocado tree and it’s
one of over a dozen different trees he has. Check it out man, wow that thing’s heavy.
Look at all these avocadoes on here! This is one prolific plant, or tree that’s growing
tons of fruit, I mean there’s even more up in here. So one of the things I want to
talk about in this area of the video is he has more than one variety of avocado tree. Obviously he has a lot of space and acreage,
and one of the things he likes to do is be able to enjoy avocados year-round. If you
had one variety or cultivar, certain varieties of fruit have certain times of the year, so
you can only have avocados in the summertime, but you can never get them in the wintertime
because the tree doesn’t produce at that time of year; this happens in California.
But in a tropical climate, such as Hawaii, yes, you can have avocados year round if you
get the proper varieties. In general, he would recommend four varieties
to get fairly good coverage, but if you wanted to get complete coverage, you might need to
get 10 varieties to make sure you get avocados every single month of the entire year and
of course, he has a few backup trees just in case one of the trees that produces in
December doesn’t produce too well. He’s got another tree that might fill in because
every year, every tree is different. Some years they’ll produce and some years they
won’t; you can’t control what a tree does, maybe like your wife. So anyway, let’s go
ahead and move on and talk about some of the fertility that he uses here, because he does
not bring in any fertilizers in a box, like many other people may do in their orchard.
So now I’m sitting underneath a mango tree. The reason why I’m sitting under a mango
tree because there’s no mangoes to show you guys, is because I want to show you guys
what he uses for the fertility for his home here, and he doesn’t buy bagged fertilizers
and all this kind of stuff. He doesn’t even pretty much make any compost to fertilize
his trees. Really one of the things that is super intelligent and literally in front of
our faces that nobody really does is in this age is he said, “John, the best food for
trees are trees.” But I would not agree that the best food for people is people. I
encourage everybody to eat a lot of fresh plants; fruits and vegetables in my opinion
are the best food for us. But, the best food for trees is trees because check it out, underneath
the trees we’ve got all this leaf matter that’s basically breaking down, composting
on site to feed the tree because think about it, the tree made all the leaves and in nature,
if we’re modeling a natural system, trees would grow up, leaves would fall down, they
would rot in place and that is what would feed the trees in addition. Trees will lose a branch, the branch will
fall, the next door neighbor tree would drop over, compost down and that would feed the
trees. I like to speed this up by compositing in a pile or tumbler because I don’t have
a lot of space to feed my trees. I don’t have any trees so I make compost in a different
area and bring it in to feed my trees, including really important fungal-dominated compost
made out of wood chips, which happens much faster than dropping whole tree logs like
we’re looking at under here. But if we pick up this log right here, this is super broken
down — wow, it just splattered into sawdust when I did that because all the bacteria and
the fungi and creatures will gravitate to the organic matter to break it down and reincorporate
it into the earth. This is like regenerative agriculture at its
finest because this is duplicating a nature system to the finest. Now I do want to give
a disclaimer: besides creating nutrients here for the tree, how did he get started because
if there weren’t good nutrients to start with how could you plant a tree so it will
survive and do good? So one of the first things he did when he moved on to the property was,
he did two things. Number one, he brought in rock dust, which I’m a big proponent
for. I believe in rock dust strongly; it’s very important to remineralize the soil, not
just for the trees, not just for the earth, but the microbes. They love the trace minerals and as well the
plants need the trace minerals, which may be devoid in most soils in my opinion. Now
the next thing he’s done is he’s started growing nitrogen-fixing trees such as pigeon
pea and garcinia to basically pull nutrients out of the air to put it in the soil and basically
build healthy soil. Then he would chop those down, drop them and when he was just starting
his orchard, those would provide some protection because they grow much faster than his fruit
trees. He would chop them and drop them and create
more fertility here and then finally he planted his fruit trees, chopped all the nitrogen
fixers around and just left his fruit trees. That’s what he does for fertility: trees
fall, he cuts them down, the leaves drop, he puts them underneath the trees to literally
fertilize them. Of course he also composts his fruit scraps and all the fruit that comes
off the tree. Guess what? It gets composed and put underneath the tree, too. So you know
once you have a working system, that’s very important, a working system, it can feed itself
and be self-sustaining. You don’t need to be a slave to buying 10-10-10
fertilizer unless of course you’re on the Mittleider gardening method which actually
I do not recommend, and check my past videos on that one. So I know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking, “Man, John that plant’s having a bad hair day. To me, this kind of
looks like Medusa with all them snakes coming out the hair, but this is not a Medusa plant,
this is actually a style of cactus and it’s actually known as the dragon fruit, one of
my favorite fruits that I get to eat sometimes. A lot of varieties are not very good, especially
the white varieties tend not to be so good. He’s growing some of the choice varieties
here, including Puerto Rican and a Costa Rican variety. In addition I believe he might also
have the yellow ones, which I tend to like more because they tend to be sweeter, and
cactus fruit, here on island they retail for about $7 a pound. I mean, if you can grow
your own cactus, do it because it’s going to save you guys a lot of money. I love the
diversity of the fruit he’s growing, and also the diversity of the fruit nature offers
us. One of the things he’s been able to do is survive on the fruits primarily as well
as some of the vegetables all over the years, and he’s healthy, fit, strong, good weights,
good physical endurance for his age. I believe if more people ate off their land,
a plant-based diet rich in fresh fruits and fresh vegetables, they’d be healthier, too.
So another thing he’s growing is bamboo and you’re like, “Wait a second John,
you can’t eat bamboo.” Pandas eat bamboo and yes, there are actually varieties of bamboo
that humans can eat. A lot of them can be cooked and eaten and some of them, like this
variety here, can be eaten raw. This is a clumping variety of bamboo that cannot be
grown in non-tropical regions. In the non-tropics, they have the spreading variety that will
get out of control and I really love bamboo as a plant. It makes beautiful noise when
the wind’s blowing, you can use it, and he can actually use bamboo in the construction
of his home, you could use it for trellises, for supports, and actually I need some bamboo
this tall to support some of my tree collards. Basically on the bamboo what you want to do
is harvest some of the young shoots, so we’ve got a little shoot here. You just break this
guy off and what you do is peel back the outer, hard fibrous area and then you eat out the
heart, kind of like if you had heart of palm. And you eat the soft tender part of the bamboo.
And so he’s been growing and focusing on the different, diverse crops, whether it’s
bamboo, fruit trees, and even some of the vegetables, he grows a lot of things. I want
to encourage you guys, something we can learn from my friend here is to grow a diversity
of crops because in case you have a crop failure of one crop, always going to have something
you’re able to eat out of your garden. And this is especially important in places
like Hawaii because think about it, if the ships stop coming in, are you guys going to
be able to eat, who live on the island? Unless you have your own literally fruit forest like
he has here, you’re not going to be able to eat. So here’s a soft part. Wow, it’s
actually kind of sweet, crunchy, neutral, reminds me halfway between eating cone and
eating like karobi, but much more tender. Super delicious. If you can, grow some edible
bamboo such as this variety. It’s super delicious. The last I want to share with you guys today
is his beautiful vegetable garden. He’s got some collard greens here, kales and chards.
This is his summer garden; he’s preparing the beds and getting ready to put in his winter
garden. One of the things he does, like me, is he puts in a lot of rock dust into his
raised beds here. He has raised beds, he’s mounded up the dirt with no sides so it’s
a raised bed and he just grows little rows and rows of crops. He’s got the collard
green, right here he’s got nice, delicious bok choy. This is so tender. Let me go ahead
and just taste it. My favorite part of the bok choy is not the leaves, but actually the
little stalk. It’s some of the best bok choy I’ve had in Hawaii. Super good and
while he does focus on eating fruits, he does eat some vegetables when he feels like it
sometimes. I know what you guys are thinking, you might be thinking, “ John if he just
eats fruits and some vegetables, how does he get all the nutrients he needs? How does
he get the protein?” Well, I’ll let you guys know that leafy greens are some of the
highest protein sources on the entire planet by calorie. They actually have more protein
than meat and if you think about it, where do cows get their protein or where do animals
get their protein? Horses, they’re some strong creatures there. They simply eat greens, grass and other green
plant foods and yes, there’s even protein in fruit if you eat enough of it. Another
thing you guys might be wondering is, “John, I didn’t see any animals around his place.
Does he have chickens or ducks or goats or anything to raise the fertility of his soil?”
Well it’s his belief that those animals are not really needed and cause excess work.
So he’s really pragmatic, kind of like myself, to figure things out because if you have animals,
you have to tend to them, you have to take care of them — take care of their health,
got to feed them, got to bring in external inputs most of the time to feed them. And
the food that they’re eating, they take out what they need and then they give you
the residues to fertilize your crops. He’s basically skipping that step by using the
leaves, the trees, the plant matter and all the organic matter he’s producing to put
it back into the land without having it go through the animal that actually takes some
thing out. That’s just his style and how he’s growing things here. I just want to let you guys know and give
you guys possibilities. In my videos I share with you so many different ways, whether you
agree with this way or not, I want to let you guys know that this is a way that you
can possibly do if you choose to, whether you want to do it just like him and incorporate
a lot of the ideas that I’ve shared with you guys today or pull out this idea and that
idea. That’s why I make these videos for you guys, to get you excited about growing
food, to get you guys exciting about eating rare, exotic, unique fruits and vegetables
and to be able to live a more healthy and sustainable life. And that’s simply how
my friend’s doing here and I really look up to him; I learn a lot every time I come
and one day I’m going to have at least ten acres like this and I’m going to try to get
it as beautiful as this, but I don’t know if I’m so dedicated. Because he wakes up every day and works on
his property and he’s basically just taking care of his home and the life that he wants
to , and I want everybody know, and encourage everybody to live the life you want. If you
hate going to work every day to go to a job that you hate for money that you don’t need
to buy your groceries, maybe move to Hawaii, maybe start a place like this, maybe grow
your food. Wake up every day and wake up to beautiful nature, create literally paradise
on earth for yourself and grow all the food you need. That’s definitely my dream that
I will be doing one of these days. I hope this video inspired you guys in some way.
If you liked it, please give me a thumbs up. I may come back here in future years and make
updates, even get more information and more videos about some of the exotic tropical fruits,
and please subscribe if you’re not already. Once again, I hope you guys enjoyed this episode,
and my name is John Kohler with And we’ll see you next time and until then,
remember, keep on growing!

100 thoughts on “Tropical Permaculture Fruit Forest Feeds Off Grid Family

  • Just because people don't keep animals, birds will still inhabit the land. Also insects and prehaps small mammals will set up home weather you want them to or not.

  • Thank you John, inspiring video.I'm sure there is much discipline and good management practised by this family.And daily maintenance on their 10acres over 15 years.

  • This is a sensational permaculture garden. More people should garden like this if they have acreage. Fantastic tour, thanks for making this video John.

  • I just sort of skimmed through the video but @ 33:00 I thought that was a sapodilla tree at first, until you said it was a mamey.  ahhh, interesting.  I prefer longans over the lychees.  did you get to try the yellow hylocereus?  

  • It all depends on a person's health and situation as how close to house it should be. Example :person is stricken with a disease that disables them etc .Very cool place! Thanks Mahalo nui

  • I have learned in the caribbean that the dragon eye seed shouldn't be thrown, it is actually edible as well! Jut cook it as you would chestnut, throw them in the fire and when the skin get black take it out, crack the seed open and eat it! Taste more nutty than chestnut in fact.

  • John, I liked this video a lot. I felt that there was not as many varieties of plants as I expected when you said there was going to be a lot. That being said I really enjoyed seeing everything, and I really want to see more! If your friend is willing, I am sure that I am not alone in wanting to hear an interview from him! (P.S. I would also love to see some more from you and coconut Chris as well!)

  • Being that the title mentions off-grid, I would have really liked to have seen more about it.  Even though I do not live in a tropical climate I always enjoy watching your videos .

  • I really love these tropical videos. Mostly because I live in South-West Florida; Thanks John… this is the stuff that keeps me inspired to keep growing food. I'm already growing a Papaya, a Mango, a Peach, a Loquat, & a Grumichama , along with pineapples, and I now only want to add more. LOL. I was able to upload some video's with my cell phone. I really need to find some of the various varieties you showed us…. thanks again for an awesome video!  

  • Wow!  Many Thanx for sharin' this COOL tour of your friend's place on Maui, the Dragonfruit he has is beautiful, as always John you're TOTALLY INSPIRATIONAL!!! 🙂

  • Big thanks to your friends for letting you document their place! I am wondering how the compost piles were set up. Obviously there are natural ones right beneath the plants but did he also have separate piles that he rotates out like the rest of us?

  • Hey John, awesome video, I hope one day you're fortunate enough to own a piece of land like this!
    Where did you get the shirt you're wearing in the video from? 

  • This is a wonderful video.Sorry to say most of us could never do this,but it is great to see people doing it.
    Thanks for sharing the video and Thank him also.

  • Love your permaculture videos, John. I'd love it if you'd  show on growing perennial permaculture food forests in all the zones.The goal should be to grow enough food without a lot of work strictly organically (without animals or weeding or even watering) like Nature does it in jungles and forests.

    That reminds me, does your friend water his orchards or does he let Nature take care of it?

     Nature doesn't even use Rock Dust. Think about that.  Adding isolate supplements to your garden may be like taking isolate food supplements into your body. The purist  Master herbalists and Naturopaths know the body can be stimulated by isolate food supplements but it actually can't utilize all of it because the proportions of the original natural substance have been changed by man so they can be enervating also.( For example, relying too much on digestive enzymes can send messages to the pancreas not to produce them and weaken the pancreas.)  The hard core advocates of Natural Health use ONLY the WHOLE herb as grown in Nature because the body knows what to do with all of it. There are NO DOWN SIDES to staying as true to Nature as possible.

  • This was very inspiring. I watched your "sustainable farming better than organic?" video first and although growing on a massive scale is my ultimate dream, I love that you gave a wonderful example of what that looks like without incorporating the animals in this video. Beautiful! and Amazing! I just want to find the means to mesh these two great ideas together with a few changes here and there and call you over for a midday snack to shoot a video. Thanks for the videos and inspiration. Please keep up the good work.

  • That was truly wonderful and it's my dream to create paradise so this video has inspired me even more to work hard at it!
    Thankyou and keep making awesome videos! 🙂

  • The reason I love these videos that John Koehler and Jake Mace do is their excitement about growing food. My dismay is that they have to sell the idea of growing your own food. I am 50 yrs old and my first 10 years of life was spent on a traditional Southern farm that provided all of our needs including utilizing wool from sheep after shearing. It has become such a foreign idea for people to grow their own food! How is that even possible? I applaud these guys and support them and look forward to possibly meeting them in December when I move to Arizona.
    I would ask that they do a small 4ft x 4ft or mini garden and possibly a balcony garden to show people in the city that they could provide some of their own food very easily.
    Thanks Growing Your Greens!

  • Thinking of doing this once I'm done with college. I can easily get 10 acres for less than 10,000 $ (with river going through property and lots of wild life like giraffes, zebras, hundreds of bird species etc) cant wait. 🙂

  • Nearly a ten minute intro of rambling and rambling on.. You have good information to convey dude BUT my god you drain the hell out of a persons attention! No disrespect but please get to the point plan out what you want to say, use a TelePrompter maybe? I dunno do something coz you are talking way too much!

  • Perhaps he can get a better yield of coconuts with that compost pile if he piled it around the trunk and roots, similarly to the compost pile improved by Viktor Schauberger as given in the book The Fertile Earth. Just thought it'd be a great resource.

  • How do you get those plants in Hawaii? Are they available on island or do you need special permission to bring them in.  Great video, by the way.

  • Chop & Drop?
    Any Dinamic Accumulators? Comfrey, Canna Indica or other?
    Lovely garden, definitely the path I'm following :::)
    Soon I'm going to start growing on Madeira Island. Not quiet as warm as Hawaii, but enough for loads of Nanas :::)
    Much Love John :::)

  • You should suggest to this grower to put up a netting to catch ripe fruits and still protect them from a number of insects if he does wan to increase what he can collect

  • your doing a great job mate , been following u a long time here in Australia,, keep up the good work you don't talk to much , your enthusiastic about all you do, thanks

  • Dude while I appreciate your passion, you need to get to the bloody point already. This is a fifteen minute video with forty minutes of you rambling on top. There is no way I'd subscribe to this verbal diarrhea. Ya sound like an infomercial smashed into a horse race caller and the wreck slid into an auctioneer without bothering with a condom.

  • Amazing information!!! I don't mind the rambling at all! He has so much useful information to share!! If everyone had thoughts like you we all would be happy and healthy!! Thanks!!

  • This was the video the truly lit a fire under me and convinced me to buy my 20 acres on Hawaii's Big Island. I'm just starting out, but so excited to have the chance to grow my own food in the tropics. Thanks John!

  • does he do work exchange for ppl who may want to apprentice under him and learn how to make thier own permaculture farms??

  • I love merengue! ! My 1st time eating it was at the costa rica fruit fest😄😄😍😍. where I met u John! !

  • I remember learning about the katuk in ur class u gave at the costa rica fruit fest. thanks John for all ur Knowledge! !

  • oh John…you are really amazing…thank you for everything that you share with us…God bless you and I wish God help you to get your dream farm

  • Video's like this remind me of how much a slave I am to the government living on Cape Cod, MA in the US. Such great information and inspirational. Thanks John.

  • Your videos are very informative on growing green. I have learned some valuable things to use. Thank you for that, but don't need to learn how to disrespect a girlfriend. Otherwise I think your vids are one of the best.

  • Nice variety. Adding some of those to my list and will check with the Edible Nursery on the Big Island to see if they have some of those native trees/plants as well. Being off grid is a big challenge but your friend has done a wonderful job! kudos!

  • hi i was enjoying your description up til the 6th minute , and you lost me at the gender stereotypes of what a woman's role is in a household. bye

  • Your so right like when did sodding your yard become the normal. Why don’t people plant trees? Or do anything with there yard. People complain about having to mow well then just plant some fruit and vegetables

  • The volcanic ground containts full of minerals!!!… it needs only water….. on the Kivu (East Africa) the cabbeges can have 60 cm of diameter!!!.. By…

  • Smartly designed land. Florida you can grow coconuts, bananas, papaya, mangoes, passion fruit, starfruit, leechy, orchids, lemon, oranges, avocado, dragonfruit, Black bamboo, yellow bamboo, lemongrass, monsterafruit, ….very similar to variety of plants in Hawai'i. South florida I had 1 Acre on intercoastal, rained almost every day for 2 hours. Growing and gardening becomes lifestyle.

  • gmos are unsafe but companies are crooks that buy politicians. if people ever realize how many of their health problems are due to gmo they just might insist those responsible be held fully accountable.

  • too bad i live near the arctic but there are exclusive fruit and berry's in the north. Like Cloudberry partridgeberry and blueberry. i bet most of you never eaten Cloudberry quite hard to find in the wild or too dificult to grow it at home.

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