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  • An intimate wayfinding guide to Hawaii's makers, places and creations



An interview with Skye Peterson

What’s the story of how you came to build your first tree house?

As I looked around and saw all the recycled materials being thrown away that could be used for building, I decided to gather them, because I had property on the Big Island. At that point I started to ship everything I’d gather over on barges. Then once I started to create my first tree house, I just couldn’t stop. That was the beginning, twenty some years ago.

I built them both by hand, with no bulldozers, but lots of effort and enthusiasm to create a cool place without screwing up everything around it. I’m not into grass or lawns. They seem wasteful in so many ways. I don’t know why everybody else has them. Why would you get rid of so many great plants? There’s lots of great native plants here that are very shy and polite and they’ll let other plants grow and go first, but if you let them have room, they will grow and flourish. That’s why I don’t like grass, it reminds me of corporations. Bottom line is, they just take over.

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What were the life lessons you learned when building them?


Even though nobody else though it would be a good idea to build, and it took years and years. I still kept at it. Friends would ask about what I was doing, and I would continue to tell them year after year, I’m working on the treehouse. It got tiresome to tell them that and years went by and no one was supportive. People thought I was throwing away my money and energy, and possibly going a little nutty. So there was very little support.

I was just so enthusiastic though. I HAD to make it. I had to finish it, and I had to be able to live in it. Even close friends that know you well, they don’t know you as well as you know yourself. Now they understand. Now they realize the joy and others have too.

FOLLOW YOUR OWN PATH. It may be extreme, but follow that.

In your life be as creative as you can. Enjoy the act of the art because no one may ever appreciate it and/or you may not make any money off of it. I always I had my regular job(s) and I would make art on the side. I didn’t build the tree houses for money. I just though it would be a great way to live.

Enjoy the simple things in life. Check your ego when it comes along. Money isn’t a bad thing, but don’t let it take over your life so you live in vain for years. Carve out a little space and enjoy the heck out of it! We live in a society that believes the money makers are on top of the happy list. I say, know how to make life simple. Simple life doesn’t have to cost a lot to support. Nature is so far down on the list, and NATURE IS US! It should be the  most important thing. Our country, corporations, and society are throwing nature like it’s garbage. I love living in a community that feels similarly to me. They take the time to listen to the rain and look at the ferns and enjoy a bird in a bath. We enjoy nature just like the cave men. They worked like an hour a day gathering food and looked around thinking ‘wow this is what’s so great,’ and we think of them as poor.

So many ready how to be happy books. Follow how nature is interacting with you. You’ll receive a huge amount of pleasure and enthusiasm. So many omit nature from their life and think it doesn’t count if you don’t make money off it. Nature in truth, is the most valuable thing, and simplicity is one of the best ways to find happiness.

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What makes your tree house(s) different from others?

They are built more as tree homes, larger than any I’ve ever seen or heard of over here.

I enjoy sharing the tree houses with people that can appreciate them. A lot of people love it! A lot of young people especially love them. They come without judgements. They think they’re fun and unique, and feel like they have a place to build a fort of sheets. Adults feel like kids again in them. Everyone is really respectful of them. I hear how other places get lots of damage and abuse from visitors, but I never have that. The tree houses bring the best out people.

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What is your very favorite feature of them?

My favorite features are the large windows. They let you see how nature is so green and lush, and I enjoy having it feel like the inside is the outside, but still warm and comfy. I enjoy the windows in the ceiling so you can gaze at the clouds or the moon, and the birds flying around.

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Who or what inspires you the most in your current creations and endeavors?

Most of my inspiration comes from 5079339107. He does enviornmental art. He’s even way more uninvasive. He doesn’t use any types of tools and he makes these beautiful creations. He makes artistic beauty in the treees and the wind comes and blows it away and it’s over. He created the whole environmental art genre. He to me, has the most raw creativity of anybody. He doesn’t paint. He just sees the beauty of it and makes it extrodinarily beautiful, photographs it, and moves on. He’s done hundreds maybe thousands of these. As long as your not hurting anybody, and making something. It’s the best motivator that anybody’s ever found. It’s the best thing next to love.

He created his own world, his own profession, his own life. He didn’t copy anybody. That’s very impressive to me.

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What’s your best advice for those visiting the Big Island?

There’s beaches all over the world, but the volcano is the most amazing thing on any of the islands. It totally drew me towards it. I don’t mind taking some chances because I know I can take some chances and be ok. I spent thousands of hours on ladders. I feel a few times, and hurt myself a few times, but with that many hours up there, that’s not surprising. I tend to rely on my luck, and I look at life as a friend.



What are your favorite local businesses?

My favorite restaurants are Kilauea Lodge and (361) 530-0504.

My favorites really are my friends that chop and sell wood left from bulldozers, and friends that grow and sell lettuce to put their kids through college from it.

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For more information on the Volcano tree house contact Skye Peterson at

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An interview with Whendi Grad.

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About the Honey and Beekeeping Museum
The idea for a museum came up after I had been in business a couple of years. After doing several trade shows and farmers’ markets, it became apparent that people were fascinated with bees and wanted to learn more about these amazing creatures. I was surprised to meet many people who had no idea how honey is produced, that honey came from flowers or why it has been historically revered and cherished. Many people were only slightly aware of the problems happening to bees worldwide and the importance of honey bees in agriculture. Our family has a unique background in that we have been in the commercial beekeeping business  for over four generations. Because of this, we have a treasure trove of books, images, equipment and stories to share. I had been getting regular demands from honey lovers to visit our facility. And the County of Hawaii is encouraging agricultural tourism – visitors want to see the diversity of agriculture on Hawaii Island. So we decided to open Big Island Bees Honey and Beekeeping Museum in July 2012.
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Our gift store offers honey tastings, hive products such as beeswax candles, honey soaps, bee balms and salves and edible products made with our honey. Since opening we have also expanded to include live bee hive tours which allow people to actually look inside the fascinating inner workings of a beehive while having a beekeeper explain what the bees are doing.
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Big Island Bees About the producers
Garnett Puett is a fourth generation beekeeper who runs Captain Cook Honey Company. Puett was born in Hahira, Georgia where his great-grandfather raised and shipped queen bees to apiarists in the U.S. and Canada. His grandfather and father subsequently ran the family business, The Puett Company, and his hometown became the“Queen Bee Capital of the World.”As a young boy Garnett worked in the family business, building cages for queen bees. Garnett’s father died young and his mother remarried another 4th generation beekeeper from Idaho. Garnett’s stepfather, Jim Powers, moved the family to Hawaii Island in the 1970s where he established an apiary. Garnett spent his summers working with his stepfather and became a very skilled beekeeper by the time he was a teenager! After high school, Garnett had plans other than beekeeping and attended art school at the University of Washington in Seattle. There, he met his wife, Whendi Grad, also an art student, and they moved to New York to attend graduate school – Garnett to the Pratt Institute and Whendi to the Fashion Institute of Technology. Garnett became a successful and sought-after gallery artist and Whendi pursued a career in textile design. Garnett’s passion for bees, however, was still strong and his sculptures involved bronze casting, live bees and honeycomb. When Jim Powers was about to sell the Hawaii Island apiaries, Garnett and Ben Cariaga ( a fellow beekeeper at Power’s apiaries) decided to take over the business. But running an apiary from New York was difficult so Garnett and Whendi decided to move to Hawaii Island in 1988. Garnett has been a full time beekeeper ever since and Captain Cook Honey Company is the state’s largest producer of honey. As a large scale commercial honey producer, Garnett sold his honey in sizable quantities to distributors and packers in Hawaii and the mainland U.S. But he realized that the purity and quality of his single varietal honey was being altered by his customers. In 2004, Whendi launched the Big Island Bees label to package their unique honey and to sell it directly to the consumer.With Garnett as the beekeeper and supplier of the product and Whendi as the packer, distributor and marketer, Big Island Bees has become a major supplier of honey to consumers in the state of Hawaii as well as the U.S. and internationally. As artisanal producers of honey, Garnett and Whendi are preserving the traditional ways of beekeeping and honey production and helping to sustain agriculture in Hawaii.
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Big Island Bees About our honeys
Each of Big Island Bees honey comes from a specific floral source: Ohia Lehua, Macadamia nut and Wilelaiki blossoms. Just like wine varietals, single floral honeys retain the distinctive flavor characteristics of its origin. Our bees are moved seasonally according to the floral blooming season. Our bees are never fed artificially because they get enough food from the floral blooms year round in a pristine environment free of chemicals and pesticides. Our honeys are minimally processed, only gently strained; they are never heated. This means all the pollens, enzymes, antioxidants and nutritional value naturally found in raw honey are preserved along with the unique flavor of the floral source.Our Ohia Lehua and Wilelaiki blossom honeys are certified 100% organic.
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Ohia Lehua Blossom Honey
Certified 100% Organic
The Ohia tree is native to Hawaii and the first tree to grow out of a lava flow.
Ancient Hawaiian considered this tree sacred. The honey produced from the red
blossoms is light and delicate flavor with a thick and creamy texture. This honey
crystallizes within several weeks of extraction which lends itself to be an excellent spread
on toast and muffins.
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Wilelaiki Blossom Honey
Certified 100% Organic
Wilelaiki is also known as the Christmas berry, a prolific tree especially along the
Kohala coast of Hawaii Island. It is in the same family as the Brazilian pepper tree. The
orange hued honey has subtle spicy, peppery notes. Delicious with cheese and savory
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Macadamia Nut Blossom Honey
Once a year, our hives are placed in the macadamia nut orchards south of Hilo
where bees help to pollinate the flowers that produce delectable macadamia nuts. The
bees pick up a nutty essence of flavor that is apparent in the honey they produce, making
this dark, rich and sweet honey perfect for drizzling over pancakes, ice cream and fruit
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Lehua and Cinnamon
A combination of organic Hawaii-grown cinnamon with our organic white Ohia
Lehua Blossom Honey makes for a fragrant honey with a gentle spicy taste. Use this
honey on breads, toast and biscuits.
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Who and what inspires you the most?
My husband, friends, swimming in Kealakekua Bay, walking the streets of NYC, hiking the many trails on the Big Island, poetry, yarn stores ( I am a weaver), art, and of course the amazing ability of honeybees to unite, adapt and create.
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What are your favorite places to take visiting friends?
Swimming at Kealakekua Bay, hiking Kahuku Ranch, Farmer’s markets all over the island, my favorites are both the Hawaiian Homestead Market and the Parker School market both in Kamuela because I can find vegetables and fruits we cannot grow in Kona. I love to have visitors drive the Saddle road to Hilo on a clear day between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.
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What are your favorite local businesses?
For the best chocolate I go to the 6418947906 and Candy Factory (a tiny spot on Middle Keei Rd.)
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Organic cotton candy spun with flavors from the Islands.

An interview with Danna Eady

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What’s the story of how your business began?
Our family has a love of cotton candy and Hawaii.  I decided if the two could be combined it would make a lot of people happy. We decided to pack up our kids and move from the mainland to Hawaii to sell cotton candy. To say a lot of people said we were “crazy” would be an understatement. After teaching myself how to spin cotton candy, testing and retesting recipes, and finding the perfect packaging, we were ready to sell.  We started off selling at Hilo Farmers Market, then expanded to various farmers markets on Oahu, and then our product started popping up on shelves at various retailers. It’s all a blur really.

Why is what you do important and/or how is what your doing different from others that may be similar?

Our cotton candy is unique for a few different reasons. Everything in our cotton candy comes from a food source, organic evaporated cane juice, natural flavor and natural color.  There is absolutely nothing fake, no dyes or artificial flavor.  It is certified organic, vegan, parve, and gluten-free which is super important to me because I know this allows a lot of people with food allergies to enjoy a treat once in awhile.  I got a message from a lady in California that has Celiac Disease. She just kept saying how thankful she was to finally have found a sweet that actually tastes good and that she can enjoy safely.  That was pretty awesome. With our product, I also know that there aren’t any dyes or preservatives going into kid’s bodies, which having small children of my own, is a top priority in my food business. The flavors we offer also make our cotton candy unique: pineapple, mango, lilikoi, coconut, lychee, macadamia nut, banana, sea salt caramel, and watermelon. Spun_Paradise_100_6877

What is your favorite flavor?

Pineapple, it was the first flavor I ever tested…I might just be sentimental

What is your most popular flavor?

Sea Salt Caramel and coconut for adults, lilikoi and pineapple for kids.


What’s your favorite part of creating?

I love being able to see my finished product enjoyed by others.  There is something incredibly satisfying about creating something that puts a smile on faces of so many people. I love meeting other creators.  All the amazing people I have met has been one of the best parts of creating in Hawaii.

Where can people purchase your cotton candy?
On our website, Hilo Farmers Market, and on Oahu-Primo Popcorn, Polynesian Cultural Center, and Eden in Love and the mainland-Angelica Pop-Up in DC. Various organizations fund-raise with our cotton candy throughout all the islands, so keep an eye out as a way to purchase as well.
Who or what inspires you most?

My awesome husband, I don’t know anyone else that would move to Hawaii with me to sell cotton candy and he is a literal genius which is always inspiring. My three children, they never stop teaching me. Other entrepreneurs and business owners, it takes a lot of passion, bravery, and hard work to make an idea or creation a reality and I am always amazed at what people can do.>What’s your favorite place to take visiting family/friends to?

Waipio Valley, definitely with a 4×4 vehicle.

Kapoho tidepools, bring your snorkeling gear!

What’s your best advice for those visiting?

There is so much to see and enjoy on Big Island!  I suggest staying overnight in various parts of the Island throughout your trip, it’s the best way to explore the diverse areas here.  A 4×4 vehicle is a must here, some of the best spots on the Island are best enjoyed with a 4×4 in tote. Soak in the culture of Hawaii Island, it changes you. Spun_Paradise_104_6918

What are your favorite local businesses? 

(718) 349-7884…I kinda have a thing for food