(Top L-R) MALP President Susi Mastrionni, Jonathan Keyser, Ethan Romanchak, Teya Penniman, MISC Manager, Gary Tavares of the County of Maui. Photo by Maui Invasive Species Committee.
A day in the "office" for the owners of Native Nursery could mean hiking miles to collect seeds of a native plant or battling to keep young seedlings watered in the drying upcountry winds. In a landscape dominated by invasive species, and in an industry focused on non-native plants, nursery owners Jonathan Keyser and Ethan Romanchak are as rare as some of the plants in their Kula nursery. Their business stems from a passion for conservation - inspired to restore ecosystems threatened by invasive plants, they spend their days growing natives. Their dedication was recognized Saturday November 8th in a ceremony at the 2008 Arbor Day Lawn and Garden Fair and Hawaiian Tree Give-Away at the Maui Nui Botanical Garden.
The Malama i ka Aina Award is presented annually to recognize a landscape professional working to keep invasive species out of Maui County. The award is sponsored by the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), the Maui Association of Landscape Professionals (MALP), and the County of Maui.
Native Nursery has an array of endemic and indigenous Hawaiian plants as well as several Polynesian-introduced plants. They provide plants for ecosystem restoration and landscaping.
Native Nursery won the bid for providing 150,000 plants for reforestation efforts following the 2007 Polipoli fire in the Kula Forest Reserve. As a result, Keyser and Romanchak developed innovative ways to grow such a huge volume of native plants. They work to maintain the genetic integrity of the plants grown for restoration projects by collecting seed from plants adjacent to the restoration area.
"It's a special honor to recognize two Maui-born-and-raised young men, whose business was inspired in part by seeing the damage invasive species are doing to our native landscapes", Teya Penniman, manager of MISC, said in praising Keyser and Romanchak. She noted that they are "walking their talk" by volunteering with projects such as the Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership (LHWRP).
Additionally Native Nursery grows plants for the LHWRP. "We regularly use Native Nursery for our public restoration efforts", said Art Medeiros, the Partnership Coordinator for LHWRP. "Not only are they technically proficient, they strive to be ethical and provide clean, abundant, healthy, material seamlessly."
Equally important is providing strong plants to their customers. "Their stock is well-labeled, free of contaminated seeds, and healthy," says Susi Mastrionni of MALP.
Hosting school groups is another way the owners of Native Nursery plant the seeds of awareness in the minds of the next generation of Maui conservationists. During a visit to the nursery, students from Kamehameha Schools found plants from ecosystems as diverse as the rainforest of Hana to the remnants of a dryland forest of Kahikinui. Meeting with Romanchak and Keyser gave them the opportunity to learn about native plants that they might have never seen otherwise.
Native Nursery has developed a website with extensive information for selecting and growing native plants. All the information is readily available to the public at www.mauinativenursery.com.
Presenters of the award were MALP President Susi Mastrionni, Gary Tavares of the County of Maui, and Teya Penniman, MISC Manager. The Arbor Day Lawn and Garden Fair and Hawaiian Tree Giveaway is co-sponsored by the Maui Association of Landscape Professionals and the Maui Nui Botanical Garden.
|The Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk (HEAR) project is currently funded by the Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) through PIERC (USGS) with support from HCSU (UH-Hilo). More details are available online.|
|This page was created on 12 January 2009 by PN, and was last updated on 12 January 2009 by by PN.|