Visitors to Paradise Meadows Orchard & Bee Farm, home of Hawaii’s Local Buzz, often ask us if we have wild pigs in Hawaii. Since the answer to that question is an emphatic yes, we thought it might interest some of our readers to know more about the “wild pig problem” we have here in paradise.
Pigs were first introduced to Hawaii by the original Polynesian settlers, who brought pigs (as well as dogs and chickens) with them in their outrigger canoes when they set out to find a new home. The original Polynesian pigs were relatively small and, reputedly, relatively docile creatures that occupied an important place in Polynesian culture. (More on that in a future blog post.)
The Europeans who eventually made their way to our shores also brought pigs with them (as well as rats… lots of rats). The European pigs were larger than their Polynesian cousins, and more aggressive. Over time, the European and Polynesian pigs interbred, and the contemporary feral pig population is both larger and more aggressive than the original Polynesian variety.
Because there are no natural predators in Hawaii to keep the feral pig population in check, and because they have plenty of food to forage, the population has grown to the point that it poses a significant threat to our delicate ecology, and is a serious nuisance for Hawaii’s farmers. At Paradise Meadows, for example, we attempted to intercrop macadamia nut trees with coffee trees in one of our new coffee fields, only to have pigs rip up and destroy all of those baby mac nut trees overnight. Apparently, feral pigs find the roots of baby mac nut trees REALLY yummy. The goal of the intercropping experiment was to provide good shade cover for our coffee, along with increasing our supply of macadamia nuts. Unfortunately, we’ve concluded that we would have to build better pig-resistant fences around our coffee fields to make that a success, which is not economically feasible.
So how do we keep the pigs in check on our farm? We allow one of our local friends to set up humane pig traps around the property. The pigs that he successfully traps here help feed his extended family, and our farm suffers less damage from the pigs rooting up our fields. It’s a nice symbiosis – and it also gets us some yummy Kalua pig once in a while, which our friend makes in the traditional Hawaiian way.
If you don’t live here in Hawaii, and wish you could enjoy some of that yummy Kalua pig at home, you can come very close to recreating that experience with the aid of a slow cooker. Take one pork butt, cover it with smoked sea salt, place it in the slow cooker, and let it cook on high for about 6 hours or until the meat falls apart at the touch of a fork. If you don’t have smoked sea salt handy, you can use regular sea salt and a tablespoon of Liquid Smoke. Serve with rice and the vegetable of your choice. And if you’re looking for something Hawaiian for dessert, you might want to have our Pineapple Coconut Tropical Shortbread Cookies handy. Yum!
Such a bummer about the pigs ripping up the baby mac nut trees! The intercropping sounds like such great idea. The pigs are so hard to fence against, too, aren’t they? Not just a little string of electric wire, or whatnot, but those big pig fence panels really well staked into the ground. Darn it. We want more mac nut trees at The Buzz! Best wishes!
Thanks, Laura. Wild pigs are just a fact of life here and in some ways it’s kind of cool that such an important part of Polynesian culture is still present here in Hawaii. I’ll be writing more about that in the future. Meanwhile, not all intercropping ideas have been failures. I’ll also be writing soon about the experiment that seems to be wildly successful so far with planting coffee in our avocado field.
Avocados?! Wish we could get those in the BuzzClub order. 😉
LOL — me too!