Farmer hopes to bring back ipu plant on Oahu

Kimberly Clark
Kimberly Clark

By Roger Mari bio | email

WAIMANALO (KHNL) - It's an ancient Hawaiian plant used as a drum for the hula. The Ipu, or hard shelled gourd, nearly disappeared from Hawaii.

One woman hopes to re-root this indigenous plant on Oahu.

Waimanalo on Oahu's eastside is known as an agricultural community, with good rain and help from tree trimmers who provide healthy mulch. Its one reason farmer Kimberly Clark chose the area to bring back the native Hawaiian ipu plant.

"Kind of restoring culture, restoring agriculture and also getting people more in touch with their roots literally by planting their own seed," said farmer Kimberly Clark.

That plant has many uses, but lately, ipu makers are turning to mainland suppliers for their gourds. For Clark, who is of Cherokee Indian ancestry, this does not sit right.

"Our economics today and our environment we really need to think about growing our own food and being more self-reliant and cutting back on importing," said Kimberly Clark.

She sells her gourds at organic stores, farmers markets and to whoever wants them for around $8 to $10, but money isn't why she grows her ipu.

"I'm more about growing locally, and sharing locally and teaching people how to do that," said Kimberly Clark.

Clark believes the soil at her farm has the rich minerals to revive the Ipu plant but the also the tradition of growing these gourds in local soil.

Kimberly Clark has established a keiki organic gardening program which teaches gourd-growing to Waimanalo middle school students.