Amazing how much you can learn about mango trees at the Kaka‘ako Farmers Market here in Honolulu. While vegetable shopping this morning, I stopped to chat with Jen Homcy about Foundwood, her woodworking company that creates cutting boards out of reclaimed local hardwood. She took the time to share some knowledge about the wood she uses, including how the curl gets in the curly mango.
I had heard that curly wood from koa and mango trees are prized by woodworkers in Hawai‘i for its beautiful colors and textures that look like gentle ripples or wrinkles inside the wood. However, I didn’t know how curly wood gets curly. “Stress,” explained Jen, which could be anything from drought to injury. This rare variation in how the tree grows yields wood which is much more valuable than its non-curly counterpart.
In addition to being curly, another mango-wood cutting board had a pattern which I hadn’t seen before. Dark, linear outlines like these, which in this piece seem to draw a map of some archipelago more tightly clustered than Hawai‘i, can occur when moisture seeps into the wood. This can occur after the tree is felled, and can even be encouraged by storing boards close together so that they dry more slowly.
We also talked about other mango and tree facts (for example, that the fruiting season for different locally grown varieties spans much of the year here).
If you want to know more about Jen and the local trees whose wood she salvages and works with, do drop by the Ward Street farmers’ market on a Saturday or visit her website. Thanks, Jen, for talking trees with me!