VOL­CANO VERITY

Farm & Ranch Living - - THE WAY WE LIVE - —Suzanne Shriner

Liv­ing next to a vol­cano is al­ways in­ter­est­ing and some­times scary. The ben­e­fits of fresh vol­canic soil come with down­sides. Most of the Big Is­land farm­ing ar­eas are at risk of be­ing in the path of a lava flow and we ac­cept that, just as other re­gions ac­cept drought or flood­ing. But we don’t rest easy. The re­cent Ki­lauea erup­tion was about 80 miles from us, but thick vog (vol­canic smog) blan­keted our farms for weeks. We smelled the sul­fur, and the rain was acidic. Cof­fee trees are hardy, but other crops strug­gled. Dur­ing an erup­tion, it is dif­fi­cult to work out­side most days, as the air qual­ity is ter­ri­ble. The lava flow threat­ened fam­ily farms as well as key pa­paya and orchid farm­lands—all of which are small. Many lost ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing their land. Un­til the erup­tion stops com­pletely, it’s hard to know the fi­nal eco­nomic cost. Our hearts break for them.

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