Taste of School Gardens 2019 Recap

On the evening of March 9, about 375 people came together at the beautiful Maui Tropical Plantation, to celebrate 10 years of building school gardens with Grow Some Good at the Taste of School Gardens 2019. Mahalo to the chefs, vendors, sponsors, volunteers, auction donors and guests who made this event come together. It truly takes a community! We raised over $46,000 to support school gardens and engaged many old and new friends.

Taste of School Gardens Opening Ceremony

Taste of School Gardens 2019 started with an opening that featuring hula and song by the 4th graders from Pōmaikaʻi Elementary School. Throughout the evening, our videos featured songs from Songs For Change where all songs were written and performed by students and teachers from Pōmaikaʻi.

Kathy Becklin, current Grow Some Good Executive Director, and Dr. Phyllis Robinson, started the program. Phyllis was a founding member of South Maui Sustainability, where Grow Some Good got started 10 years ago. She is now the Program Director for FAM — the Farm Apprentice Mentoring Program so we like to think that our students may someday join her program. Phyllis interviewed Kathy about how Grow Some Good has grown over 10 years. Kathy shared that we have provided over 250,000 class hours in our gardens. The program all started 10 years ago with just one teacher and her science classes; and that teacher, Ms. Alana Kaopuiki-Pellegrino was one of our guests!

Founding Teachers at Taste of School Gardens 2019
Alana Kaopuiki-Pellegrino (right) was the infamous teacher who first asked us to build some garden beds. Sandee Rivas (left) was also one of first teachers at Kihei Elementary School and was instrumental in starting a garden program at our newest school, King Kamehameha III Elementary School, where she is now the technology coordinator.

The Food, Entertainment and Silent Auction

Maui’s most conscious instrumental funk ensemble – Three to 5! provided great music as a backdrop to the social part of the event. Food is always the #1 feature at Taste of School Gardens and once again our ten chefs blew everyone away with their fabulous creations. Guests enjoyed friends, food and drinks and the silent auction. Make sure to take a look at the detailed photos below of the delicious food, beautiful setting and look for yourself and friends.

Program – 10 Years and Progress

The program was kicked off by co-founder and first official garden coordinator, Kirk Surry with a short video about the Day in the Life of a Garden Coordinator.

The Live Auction followed. Next, Grow Some Good co-founder, Nio Kindla, engaged the audience talking about progress that is being made in our school lunch programs through the ‘Aina Pono program. School gardens are an important part of the success of the program by connecting kids with the food they are eating. A focus on nutrition and waste reduction is improving the quality of lunches served in our schools.

Taste of School Gardens -- a look at the changing face of school lunches.

In celebration of Grow Some Good’s 10 year anniversary, volunteer Peter Liu compiled a video that tells our mission and garden stories, using footage collected over 10 years. This video is technically just over three minutes long, but during the 10 year’s worth of rolling credits, precious kids quotes take up another 3 minutes! Best to watch on a big screen!

The Closing : ‘Ohana

We closed with a final paddle raiser fundraiser, and then everyone joined hands in singing ‘ohana, from Songs for Change.

Growing a strong community – ‘Ohana

Means I’ll take care of you, you take care of me – ‘Ohana

Here’s the karaoke-style video of the kids singing, which was the led at the event by Ms. Melinda Carroll and the band. Melinda was the teaching artist who helped the students compose and perform the songs on Songs for Change.

Taste of School Gardens 2019
Enjoy all 184 photos from our Flickr Album.
Day of event photography by Mieko Photography.

Mahalo to all who participated in the Taste of School Gardens 2019!

If you missed the event and would love to contribute to this amazing cause that is changing the way kids think about their food, connecting them with the earth and building strong minds and bodies for our future generations, we would be very grateful. Join our ‘ohana!

Donate Now!

2019 Taste of School Gardens Menus

Want a glimpse into the wonderful dishes the chefs are preparing? Scroll through this list and share your favorites!

Thanks to All of our Sponsors

Composting in School Gardens

Tips on Composting from our ED & “Compost Queen” Kathy Becklin

This morning I was out at the Kihei Elementary school garden.  Since it was hot, I spent much time in my favorite (and shady) area…the composting area. Sadly our 6+ bins were all in pretty bad shape but I worked to turn our composting effort around!
The bin in the photo above is my home compost pile.  It is about the same size as the ones at Kihei El.  Some of our schools have a 3-bin system (on right) but personally I find those limiting unless you have a small garden as each bin is too small. I prefer a 5ʻ diameter wire bin any day! I can also move them around the garden easily.

My Favorite Tips for Successful Composting

  • Tend to your Compost every 1-2 weeks for best results. In a perfect world, you would turn the whole pile but that has never been feasible for me.  I “stir the pile.” I jab my spade fork in as deep as possible and stir. The whole pile should move. I have a hose and get moisture down into the pile. I move the spade fork 12” over and repeat until the pile is sufficiently “stirred”. I stir my pile before adding a lot of material. The piles at Kihei were very dry; compost should be damp but not dry. If you tend to them frequently, the fork goes in easy, sometimes steam comes up, the rodents stay away and it takes just a few minutes per pile.
  • Breaking the Structure of Material — You donʻt have to cut everything into tiny pieces to add to the pile. It will compost faster but it might not be practical to do each time.  What is encouraged is to break down the structure of the material.  We had lots of stacks of paper plates and stacked cups from our harvest parties.  Stacked they are not easy to break down; single items scrunched work much better. Stomp on dried leaves, fold up branches (I can take a big branch of a pigeon pea and fold it up, breaking the rigid structure to small size in a few seconds), and spread out the material.  I actually like leaving a few branches (< 1” diameter) long in the pile as they help the stirring to move everything around and let the air in.
  • Adding Layers — The classic composting advice is to add material in layers of 1 part green to 2 parts brown.  This is not precise science but do think in terms of browns and greens.  Greens are things that were recently living and growing — grass clippings, weeds, recent cut branches, kitchen scraps and live plant material.   Browns are branches, dried leaves, paper plates and shredded paper.  Yes, if you leave greens in the sun, they turn brown.  Do this if you have too many greens. Composting is much more effective with a nice mix.  The  top layer is usually browns to keep rodents and flies away.  You should not create any layer too thick that it will totally compact and be impermeable. I like thinking that the layer should cover the previous layer so it canʻt be seen –  about 3″ max unless you have dry fluffy leaves.  Be really careful with lawn clippings, thick vines and shredded paper as a thick layer can stop the composting process.  For example, there was some hay bale material in the Kihei Elementary bins but the chunks were not broken up enough…  it formed a thick mat that did not let air or water through.  Composters  (i.e. fungus, bacteria and invertebrates  – “FBI” ) do not work in an anaerobic  or dry environment!
  • Label your Bins: If you are fortunate enough to have multiple bins, label them! Otherwise you may have lots of bins but nothing is ready.  You must label your bins so everyone knows where to add material.  I recommend the following signs (maybe have 2 of each):  ADD LARGE MATTER HERE, ADD MATTER HERE,  RESTING and READY TO SIFT.  For Kihei Elementary Iʻm going to laminate 8×11 sheets, put in plastic sleeves with holes so  that they can be zip tied to each bin.  Painted signs work well too! The signs can be moved from bin to bin as the composting process evolves.

    I like keeping one bin for bigger items that take longer to break down.  Think palm branches, evil weeds, papaya or sugar cane stalks, branches > 1” diameter.  Please note that is is still good to include a good mix of greens and browns.  Also throw in an occasional layer of compost to really get it working.  If you donʻt have enough space or bins, then I recommend removing this material from the site.


    This is where the majority of items are added from the garden and kitchen.  This is a very active pile that goes up and down… process it and add, process and add.  Decomposition is happening! How do you know when to change the sign to “RESTING”?   If you are maintaining your piles and adding material in layers, you will reach a point where the bin is perpetually 3/4 to full.   You can add layers but it never goes below the 3/4 full mark.  That would be the time to let it rest.  In my home garden, where I only have 1 official bin, at this point I remove the wire that constitutes the “bin” and move it to a new place.  I let the pile rest a few months before I start to use. In the photo above, Iʻm almost ready to let it rest.


    During resting, continue to stir and water,  but quit adding new material.  You may need to stir less frequently.  When the bin is about 1/2 full (or half empty) and you can dig down about 6” and find beautiful compost then it is ready for sifting.  The outside may still show a lot of debris and dry material.  This is a great time for students to observe the composting process. Smell how beautiful it smells, observe the different types of bugs; they are part of the composting process.  The rest period should be no more than about 3 months.


    Sifting is a great workday activity. Make sure volunteers wear gloves and close-toed shoes. In my experience, centipedes are inevitable (Make a game out of counting them and carefully move them over to your add pile so they can keep working) and hope you donʻt see any rodents. Place a sifter over a wheelbarrow.  Start taking material from the compost pile and into the sifter.  Break up big chunks of compost and let the beautiful compost collect in the wheelbarrow.  Two people hold each end of the sifter and move back and forth (slow shake) is the most effective way to process quickly.  Ideally disperse composted material directly around the garden or create a “ READY TO USE” pile.  At first it seems like there is more being left in sifter than is composted but that changes fast.  Toss the unsifted material back into one of your ADD piles; the addition of compost will get those working even better.


If youʻve been filling all your bins for awhile like we have at Kihei El, there may be an enormous amount of good compost on the ground around the bins.  Get out your shovel and collect it for use in the garden beds.

Watch for future updates on vermi-composting and bokashi!
Please share your compost tips below.

Harvest Days at End of Year!

At the end of each school year, Grow Some Good likes to have a fun event where kid get to eat lots of goodies from the garden.  This year, every school is having some type of harvest day.  Chef’s, pizzas, lemonade or whatever the garden has to offer!  Below are the amazing recipes and sharing information from Nicol Bradley, owner of Ono Gelato Kihei, is helping us for 4 days at Kihei Elementary and Lokelani Intermediate. 








Sounds pretty amazing. Just like Ms. Nicol! Nicol is the owner Ono Gelato Kihei and a personal chef passionate about teaching Maui’s Keiki to have fun cooking.

Ono Gelato Kihei just closed their doors at current location and have a new concept opening in Kihei later in year which will feature Ono Gelato. They will also feature multiple frozen dessert options plus bakery and confectionary items.

Watch Facebook for more fun Harvest Day posts and special recipes.

Bradley Mason

Garden Coordinator

Lahaina Intermediate and Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School

Bradley Mason

Bradley was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and moved to West Maui in July of 2010. The son of a teacher and coach, education and athletics have been a part of his life since his youth. He was an elite swimmer and water polo player in Illinois, so moving to an island home was a natural fit. He graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a major in Education and a minor in Math and Science Concepts for Middle School Instruction. This is his seventh year in education in West Maui having taught science at both Sacred Hearts School and Lahainaluna High School. This is his seventh season as the Head Coach of the Lahainaluna Water Polo team having earned MIL Coach of the Year recognition in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

His passion for organic gardening/farming, local food security and incorporating health and wellness into education began while at Sacred Hearts, where he created his first organic school garden. He was trained by the Ku Aina Pa School Garden Teacher Training Program based in Waimea, Hawaii and also at the Farm as School, Food as Medicine Institute, a biodynamic farm in Pauuilo, Hawaii. Bradley is excited to a part of the Grow Some Good family and continuing the important work of teaching West Maui students about growing food and establishing lifelong healthy habits.

Cynthia Cordova

Pu’u Kukui Elementary School and Waihe’e Elementary School

Cynthia Cordova

Cynthia has BA Degrees in Agriculture, Food and Sustainability and in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production. She started with Grow Some Good in 2016.

Cynthia says:

My goal for the gardens this year is to grow more, harvest more, and share more.

What I’m really looking forward to: Teaching in the shade structure that was built over the summer at Pu’u Kukui. When it rains or when it’s really hot the students now have a place to sit and take a break.

My favorite thing about working with kids is: teaching them the power of growth and watching them grow with their plants.

I’m looking forward to becoming a coordinator for a new school. I’m excited to meet the new community at Waihe’e and grow together.

My favorite thing about gardens is: how it creates a sense of community. It brings people together to work for a greater good.

My favorite fruits that grow on Maui are lilikoi and mango.

Kat Powers

Garden Coordinator

Kathy Powers

Kahului Elementary School & Wailuku Elementary School

Kat has 25+ years as professional landscape designer & contractor.  She has taken courses in landscape design, irrigation, native plant identification & small business practices. Kat is currently working on an Aromatherapy Certificate. Kat also serves as part-time Farm Manager for Grow Some Good.

Kat says:

My goal for my gardens this year is to provide a functional, healthy, fun & safe garden learning experience.

What I’m really looking forward to:  working with the kieki and getting to know the school communities.

My favorite thing about working with kids is: watching them thrive, laugh and learn!

My favorite thing about gardens is: being a part of all that grows.

My favorite fruit or vegetable that grows on Maui is breadfruit.

and

I have so much appreciation for this opportunity to work in the school gardens.

Malia Bohlin

Development Director

Malia Bohlin

Malia has a BS in Mass Communications and Journalism, and a Master’s degree in Non Profit Management. She has over 20 years of fundraising experience, and started with Grow Some Good in 2015.

Malia says:

My goal for the school gardens this year is to keep them well-funded, with adequate supplies, staff time and materials, in order to optimize the fun, curiosity and learning in our outdoor classrooms.

I’m really looking forward to: the enhancement of our current lessons to align even more closely with curriculum standards, to better support teachers and have even more significant learning outcomes for students.

My favorite thing about working with kids is: their willingness to try new things.

My favorite thing about gardens is: witnessing the magic of growing things. From a small seed, to a sprout, a plant, a tree, and then harvesting buckets of fruit. Simply amazing.

My favorite fruit or vegetable that grows on Maui: it’s a tie between lilikoi and lychee. Ok, lilikoi.

Alexis Kageyama

Alexis Kageyama

Garden Coordinator & Curriculum Advisor

Lokelani Intermediate School and Kamali’i Elementary School

Alexis has BA Degrees in Sociology and Psychology with an Education Minor, along with over three years of experience teaching in an outdoor classroom. She served as lead science teacher at Galileo Camp, an educational summer camp.

Alexis says:

My goal for my gardens this year is to grow as much food as possible!

What I’m really looking forward to: spending time outdoors with the students and seeing their enthusiasm for the garden and nature.

My favorite thing about working with kids is: experiencing their curiosity, excitement, and unique perspective on the world.

My favorite thing about gardens is: the way they bring us closer to the Earth.

My favorite fruit or vegetable that grows on Maui is lychee!

Jadda Miller

Garden Coordinator and Curriculum Advisor

Jadda Miller

Kihei Elementary School

Jadda has a BS in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, and is currently working on an MS in Environmental Studies. She has worked for Grow Some Good since August 2017. 

Jadda Says: 

My goal for my garden this year is continue with the goals and progress that were made in the years past, while remaining open to new thoughts and visions for the garden in the years ahead. Allowing for it to become what the school and community envision it to be.

What I’m really looking forward to: learning more about is the Hawaiian language, culture and native plant varieties.

My favorite thing about working with kids is: I learn just as much, if not more, from them as they do from me. They are wonderful teachers.

My favorite thing about gardens is: the connection that happens between people and the Earth, which ideally leads to the cultivation of healthy food, soil, bodies, communities and environment.

My favorite fruit or vegetable that grows on Maui is an avocado.

and

‘A‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia.
No task is too big when done together by all.