Hawaii Legislators Support Farm to School Programs

KITV screenshotOver the past few months, we’ve seen news highlighting school gardens and their importance to supporting better nutrition and local agriculture. On July 7, 2015, Governor David Ige signed Farm to School bill SB 376, which aims to increase the amount of local produce in our school cafeterias.

A recent KITV4 interview quoted Dexter Kishida with the Department of Education (DOE), “Growing it and cooking it are two ways kids eating behaviors change.” The report also estimates the DOE imports more than 80 percent of produce in public school lunches.  That number may be soon decreasing with the signing of this new bill.

The governor’s press release explains “SB 376, Act 218 established the Hawai’i farm-to-school program and funds a farm-to-school coordinator position. Across the nation, farm to school programs are reconnecting students to a better understanding of the food system and where their food comes from. Farm to school programs introduce students to healthier eating habits and help them become familiar with new vegetables and fruits that they and their families will then be more willing to incorporate into their own diets. The farm to school coordinator will negotiate the complicated process of procuring local agricultural for our schools.”

Local farmers have had tremendous challenges competing with mainland prices and Hawaii DOE volume restrictions that require one vendor to supply an entire 256-school system.

“I think one of the important insights is that it doesn’t have to be the exact same suppliers statewide,” said Kyle Datta, general partner at the Ulupono Initiative, in a recent Hawaii Tribune-Herald article. “You can let local agriculture scale up to the community.” He said one of the early missteps in launching statewide farm to school was trying to get local producers to support the needs of the entire state as opposed to their specific areas.

“Maui kids eating Maui pineapple, Oahu kids eating Dole pineapples,” he said. “There’s a lot of things we should have more of that are completely possible.” (Source: Hawaii Tribune-Herald)

Some local charter schools have successfully incorporated local produce into their lunch programs because they manage their own individual procurement. Food hubs, where farmers combine their harvests for higher volume distribution, are also gaining momentum in other school districts nationwide. Here is a recent article in from the St. Paul/Minneapolis Star-Tribune describing one example of this venture.

“We need to make sure students are connecting and understanding where their food comes from and why it matters,” said Lydi Morgan, Coordinator with Hawaii Farm to School & School Garden Hui.

School garden programs are an important part of supporting this initiative. When students grow, harvest and prepare their own dishes using school garden produce, they are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables in school lunches and bring that enthusiasm home to the dinner table.

If you’d like to dig the school garden movement on Maui, visit our volunteer page and introduce yourself! We look forward to seeing you in the garden!

October – Farm to School Month

Leah Belmonte, Governor’s Representative, Maui at State of Hawaii joined Grow Some Good and MSGN at the Lipoa Farmer’s Market today to offer this official proclamation.

“… proclaim October 2015 as Farm to School Month in Hawai’i and ask all the citizens of the Aloha State to support activities that heighten the awareness of farm to school and school garden programs as successful means for improving the health and well-being of our keiki, communities and the ‘aina.”

Grow Some Good also gave away about 25 ‘ulu trees, basil, tomatoes, chard and eggplant and received generous donations to support our program.

Hawaii Governor proclaims October as "Farm to School" Month
Hawaii Governor proclaims October as “Farm to School” Month

Mahalo to Governor David Y. Ige and Lt. Governor Shan S. Tsutusi for your support and seeing the importance of our programs.

 

Good Things Growing at Kamali’i Elementary School

kamaliiKamali’i Elementary School garden program provides nutrition education and curriculum support for all grade levels. Theme gardens, such as the Pizza Garden, Green Smoothie, Pioneer Garden and Native Hawaiian Gardens match learning objectives for each grade and connect the relationship between fresh garden fruits and vegetables to students’ favorite foods. Year-end harvest parties feature local chefs working with students to prepare kid-friendly recipes with garden-grown ingredients.

To learn more about getting involved in this program, visit http://growsomegood.org/volunteer/

New Garden Sprouts at Kahului Elementary

A new edible classroom at Kahului Elementary School has sprouted from the passion, enthusiasm and collaboration of an awe-inspiring group of educators and volunteers. First grade teachers attended a recent school garden tour and turned their inspiration into action. The whole grade level is applying outdoor learning as part of their new curriculum-based school garden program.

Together we created soil nutrient building systems in each bed – while talking about lessons on carbon, nitrogen, decomposers and microorganisms. The awesome garden dig-in ended with a community picnic under the shade trees, talking story and appreciating all the good things growing.

Mahalo nui loa to Maui School Garden Network, Hui Malama Learning Center, ISI Irrigation, Ace Hardware and all the volunteers, students and families who are partnering with Grow Some Good to create an amazing gift of growth and prosperity for keiki and community. Check out more photos on in our Facebook album.

Food Economics: Where in the World… and Why?

Food EconomicsThe harvest stage of a school garden provides an ideal setting to observe interdependence of producers and consumers: harvesting food in the garden vs. buying produce in a store or a restaurant.  This is when Social Studies benchmarks can be supported in the garden and students can gain an understanding of how consumer choices affect food sustainability on Maui.

Discussion Points

Limited Resources and Choice: Explain scarcity and effects on daily life. Discuss water scarcity in Hawaii and how it affects farmers / gardeners. What happens when there is less rainfall on the island? How does it affect farmers? What happens if local farmers stop producing a fruit or vegetable? How does it affect the price? What happens when consumers buy imported produce instead of local produce? How does it affect a local farmer’s ability to grow more?

Role of Government: Discuss responsibility of government to provide goods and services – ie. In supplying water to areas where needed.

Economic Interdependence / Role and Function of Markets:  How do people benefit from trade (exchange of goods and services)? Discuss relationships between buyers (consumers) and sellers (producers) and how they depend upon each other. Why do farmers need customers? Why do customers need farmers?

ActivitiesFood Economics

  • Display imported produce: a tomato (from California), banana (from Ecuador), eggplant (from Philippines), cabbage (from Mexico) and ask the students to find where these items are growing in the garden. Have students search for “local” produce bring a sample of each back to circle (or a leaf from the plant if fruit or vegetable is not ready to harvest).
  • Locate origin of each imported produce item on the globe and estimate how many miles / amount of time each one traveled before being sold to the consumer here on Hawaii.
  • Discuss all the human resources involved in delivering that food (farmers, truckers, shippers, store clerks, etc.). Which ones require gas/fuel to do their jobs? Students act out each stage of delivery and exchange.
  • Compare the imported food chain to how many steps / people / how much energy or fuel it took to deliver food from the garden to the table.
  • Ask students if they know someone who grows food on Maui. Discuss the concept of local vs. imported. What is local? Are you local? Why?
  1. If you bought a local banana from a store that sells your uncle’s / auntie’s bananas, who would get the money?
  2. If you bought an imported banana from Ecuador, who would get the money?
  3. If a local farmer gets money for their bananas, can they grow more local bananas? Why?
  4. How can you tell where something comes from when shopping in a store? Show examples of food labels that list the origin of produce.

Final Observations / Questions
Why do stores in your neighborhood import food from other countries? Not enough supply? Not enough demand? Do imported bananas taste better?

  • Taste testing: Sample and compare slices of a banana from Ecuador or other country to an apple banana from Maui. Samples are divided on two plates with no identification on origin.
  1. Which tastes better? Then, reveal which bananas are imported vs. local.
  2. How does supply and demand affect a store owner’s decision to carry local vs. imported bananas?
  3. Which consumer choice supports farmers who live on Maui?
  4. Which banana would you choose? Why?

For more ideas on connecting students their food sources and sustainable practices, check out the free downloads and other resources available via the Center for Ecoliteracy.

SOS: Saving Our Seeds for a Sustainable Future

Seed Saving

In the final months of school, garden lessons turn to a continuation of the life cycle with ‘Saving Our Seeds’ workshops at all grade levels. This exercise connects students to sustainable practices that preserve their favorite plants, ensure food security and support benchmarks in science (life cycle), social studies (food economics) and more.

During hands-on lessons, students dig into discussions and activities that illustrate stages of the life cycles (germination/birth, growth, reproduction, and death) of various plants and animals, pointing out details that distinguish each stage. Students also learn the value of seed saving and how it affects food availability for the future. As our jr. gardeners/scientists/economists become more experienced, the learning possibilities are endless. Here are just a few ideas to get started:

Discussion Points

  • Where can you find seeds in the garden? In a flower? In a fruit? In a dried pod?
  • At which point of the life cycle is a seed? The beginning or the end? Answer: Both! Discuss when a seed is at the end (in flower, fruit or seed pod) and when a seed is at the beginning (when planted and watered) of the life cycle.
  • Why save seeds? Discuss the value of preserving genes from healthy plants, saving money, food security, etc.
  • How does age / storage affect germination rates? Review germination, discuss how seeds lose their ability to germinate over time or under poor storage conditions (heat, moisture, oxidation, etc).Seed Saving

Activities

  • Students divide into groups to search for seeds throughout the garden and collect with volunteer and/or teacher supervision.
  • Seeds can be compared by weight, shape, color, texture, etc.
  • Demonstrate different ways seeds travel – by wind (lettuce seeds with feathers fly in the wind), wing (birds eating from a plate of sunflower seeds), water (place a seeding flower or open seed pod on a mound, simulate rain with watering can to watch a seeds travel in the water stream and replant itself downstream).
  • Seeds are sorted, categorized, bagged or jarred, and labeled with collection dates.
  • Seeds are then stored in a cool, dry, airtight place for use in next year’s school garden and/or planted in starts containers for students to add to their summer home gardens.

Seed SavingCheck out more ideas for all grades and experience levels in this free e-book download made available by the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.

Sept. 22 Workshops: Youth Gardens as Classrooms

Home Gardening Support Network, Maui School Garden Network, Community Work Day and Grow Some Good are pleased to announce a Youth Gardening Workshop to make school garden information and experiences more accessible to teachers, volunteers and others who work with youth-oriented garden programs. Click on the link below for a workshop agenda:
These workshops will feature hands-on activities to help integrate school garden work within all disciplines and give advice on how to maintain and fund school gardens. The workshop day will run from 8:00 am – 1:30 pm with optional post workshop sessions from 2:00-3:00 pm and will include lunch and a food demonstration.
Register by emailing Anne Gachuhi at hgsn@gmail.com or calling (808) 446-2361.  The fee is $35.00.
Scholarships:  Kihei Elementary School and Lokelani Intermediate School teachers, staff and counselors can receive scholarships from Grow Some Good by sending an email with interest to info@GrowSomeGood.org. Please include your name, school, grade level and phone number for follow up in your email.
We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to gain knowledge that will help advance your programs and create more real-life learning opportunities for your students.

Seaweed Lesson and Use in the Garden

The following is a synopsis of seaweed lessons and materials used for YMCA classes (mixed ages).

Goal: Give students a understanding of the value of seaweed and it’s importance in our Hawaiian economy and culture.
Time: 30 minutes

Basic Plan:

1) Gather students in circle.  Ask them to share what they know about seaweed or ask them to describe seaweed.  Describe/ask about the 3 words: Seaweed,  Limu (Hawaiian name for seaweed) and Algae (botanical name for seaweed).

2) Ask them when they last used a seaweed product? What if I told you that I bet that all of you put seaweed in your mouth this morning?   Seaweed is a key ingredient in toothpaste!

3) Go over the 3 names that you’ll find in common products  that are actually seaweed.   See this lesson for more information.   Kids will try to tell you that seaweed is not in their chocolate or Strawberry Ice Cream! Seaweeds are high in nutrients and minerals. They are used as a biofuel and have some amazing properties that are used in medicines and vitamins.

4) Talk about how seaweed is different from other plants.   What does it need to grow (sunlight, nutrients, water)?  Talk about how it doesn’t get nutrients from the rocks, sand but some seaweeds establish a “holdfast” to keep them from floating away.  But some seaweeds do just float in the water.   Show examples of how some seaweed has “bladder balls” (THEY POP REALLY LOUD!)  that provides buoyancy so the plant grows up toward the surface.

5) Describe the 3 basic colors of seaweed – Green, Brown and Red.  Describe the different sizes and shapes.  Some seaweed is too small to see and some grows over 100 feet tall.  Seaweeds in Hawaii can grow up to 12 inches per week although that is not normal.  The large kelp beds of California can grow up to 2 feet a day!  They cut it weekly to make fertilizers.


6) Show the students how we are going to rinse the seaweed that was collected from the beach.  Remind them that there may be small snails in the seaweed.  We rinse the seaweed to remove the salt before we will put in the garden. Have students take a handful and rinse it,  dunk it again to rinse and put on a screen.

7) Have the kids sort through the seaweed on the screen identifying as many different forms of seaweed as they can. Put the excess seaweed in the buckets for the last step.

8) As they find a new seaweed, have them place it in a container on the table. Observe how the seaweed changes as it it placed in water. Some look like slime but become beautiful underwater. Kids will stuff the bottles if you let them so encourage them to put in just enough to clearly see and identify.

9) If you have older kids and/or more time, have the kids go through the additional resources and identify the different seaweeds. Is it alien, endemic or unknown. Is it edible?

10) Have the students take the buckets of seaweed and toss them around the garden adding great minerals and fertilizer!

Answers to Tough Questions: (Beware)

  • Can I take this seaweed home?  No – Your mom won’t want stinky seaweed!  or   Sure, after we spread it on the garden soil, you can come back with your mom or dad and take home whatever you want.
  • Can I eat this seaweed?  No – even if it is edible, we do not have the correct cleaning facilities for seaweed.
  • Is this a piece of coral? Yes, dead coral is often used by seaweed as a holdfast.  When waves are strong it gets washed up to the beach.  Did you know that coral is actually a colony of small animals (polyps) and has a symbiotic relationship with a special algae (seaweed) called zooxanthellae.  If the algae dies, so does the coral.  This is often referred to as coral bleaching because the coral will turn white.
  • Is this a new seaweed? There is always at least one child who will keep bringing the same type of seaweed up and asking this.  Ask them to describe the color, size and texture of the leaves and make them conclude that it is the same as the last one they brought up.
  • Do fish eat seaweed?  Yes, but not all fish.  Many fish hide in seaweed.  Some even change colors so they are very hard to see when in their favorite seaweed.  Turtles also eat seaweed as well as many crabs, star fish,  and other sea animals.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Id of Hawaii Seaweeds: http://www.hawaii.edu/reefalgae/natives/sgfieldguide.htm

Id of Edible Limu in Hawaii: http://www.hawaii.edu/reefalgae/publications/ediblelimu/