Blog

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

Stories from the Garden: from The Story Connective

This fall, garden coordinators, administrators, and board members from Grow Some Good met with the Story Connective to do a Story Bridge workshop. Participants were prompted to talk about a time they experienced in the garden that a child will never forget.

These stories provide a glimpse of the magic that happens in school gardens. Take a listen to these remarkable stories here.

Mahalo to the Story Connective for putting together this wonderful collection.

A Message from Kathy Becklin, Executive Director

Kathy Becklin, Grow Some Good’s first Executive Director, has done a tremendous job managing the organization and helping it move forward in critical areas of fundraising, curriculum development, and garden management. Now, as Grow Some Good enters its tenth year of providing school gardens, she shares why she’s stepping down.

As Kathy explains, she’s not going anywhere! She will still be active as a volunteer and serve as Treasurer on the Grow Some Good Board of Directors.

View on YouTube here.

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.

Grow Some Good’s Strategic Focus

Growing Some Good for 10 Years

The 2018-19 school year marks the 10th year of Grow Some Good providing educational school gardens for Maui students. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years! As a strategic and visionary organization, we took a look at where we have been and where we should put our focus for the next five years and beyond.

 

 

 

Board Discussions

In June, the Board of Directors met to discuss the organization’s status and future strategic goals. As part of the process, we reviewed the strategic planning documents from our last session in 2015. A highlight of this review was recognizing all the great things we have accomplished since 2015!  It is also reassuring to see that we are still on our planned path toward our mission to “cultivate healthier communities by strengthening local agriculture and improving access to nutritious, affordable food.”

2018-19 Goals

Looking at the immediate future, Grow Some Good identified goals and activities for the 2018-19 School Year.

Strengthen School Relationships. Enhance our work in curriculum across grade levels, especially in the areas of science. Set expectations of schools and students and provide key curriculum, making it easy for teachers to utilize complementary lessons in the classroom. Demonstrate the true value of the garden as an effective learning tool.

Strategic Expansion. Focus on areas of maximum opportunity, such as adding a grade or class at an existing school or enhancing a specific project.  We see limited expansion into new schools during the upcoming school year.

Build and Solidify Partnerships. While we have an active and supportive network in the chef and restaurant community, we want to expand beyond this group.  Our goal is to reach more local farmers, businesses, community groups and educational resources.

Enhance our Outreach Programs. In our early years, GSG volunteers and staff actively participated in many community events. This has tapered off recently. Our goal for the coming year is to participate in relevant community activities to engage with new volunteers and supporters. Leveraging off a tagline we had for years, we are calling the Outreach Program “Grow Some Good in Your Neighborhood,” and will include participation in events, Work & Learn Days, and other activities.

Adaptation and Utilization of Specialists. We are reviewing various cost saving opportunities such as outsourcing some Human Resources activities, or utilizing an irrigation specialist. This allows GSG to leverage the expertise of people and groups in our community while focusing on what we do best.

Looking at the Future

With over 4,000 students participating in our programs at 11 Maui schools, Grow Some Good is one of the largest school garden program providers in the state. As the Farm to School movement in Hawaii gains traction, we recognize the opportunity to provide leadership, data, and activities to support the movement. Initiatives like the ‘Aina Pono Farm to School Program re-introduce local produce and agriculture products into select school cafeterias across the state. We anticipate this program will grow in popularity, creating a need and desire to provide more local and school-grown produce for school cafeterias, as well as opportunities to develop more growing spaces and food forests on campuses. Grow Some Good is preparing for this opportunity by reaching out to local partners and funders who might be interested in supporting this important change for our schools and students.

As we look to the next school year, we are excited about deploying some new projects, enhancing our gardens and working with our schools to increase the educational value of the garden programs.

Growing Food and Inspiring Healthy Eating

Harvest Festivals – What Students Taught Us

Amazing Dishes

 

Harvest Festivals are year-end activities that allow students to enjoy the fruits of their labor. This year, volunteer Chefs from DUO in the Four Seasons Wailea, Outrigger Pizza Company and Ono Gelato came out to share their skills with students in the garden. Quesadillas, harvest fresh salsa, smoothies, steamed kalo (taro), herb salad, rosemary and lavender lemonade, and ratatouille served on a kalo and ‘ulu (breadfruit) pancake, were some of the fun and unique garden-inspired dishes that the chefs shared. Find some of these recipes here.

Tasting Something New

While students were eager to try the dishes made from ingredients from their gardens, they hesitated on some of the more unique items. At Kihei Elementary School, many had never tried ratatouille before. To encourage students to try it, we started having them be part of the assembly process. Each student got a piece of pancake, and served their own ratatouille, as much, or as little as they wanted, over the pancake. This simple bit of engagement made them feel like they were part of creating the dish, and they were less intimidated to try it. When they did, they loved it!

Similarly, at Pomaika ‘i Elementary School in Kahului, the first class of students to participate in the Harvest Festival was hesitant to try the kalo (taro), with only about 10% tasting it. For the second class, teachers asked students to serve it to their classmates. With this small change, participation in the tasting skyrocketed, with over 80% of students tasting the kalo.

Meanwhile, at Kamali’i Elementary School in Kihei, students loaded on the veggies without hesitation when it was their turn to make quesadillas. Did having a hand in creating their meal make a difference? We think so.

Lesson Learned

In the end, teachers, chefs, and garden coordinators saw the importance of having students involved in the food preparation and serving process.  By having them try a dish they had served themselves, or having the encouragement of their classmates, students weren’t as fearful to try something new. They enjoyed their schools’ Harvest Festival events as a way to taste new foods and celebrate the ending of a successful school year.

Parents and caregivers can also learn from this experience. Having your child select produce from a local farmer’s market is the first step. Letting them help prepare the dish, and then serve it to family members, can have a big impact and get the whole family to try eating healthier foods.

Bon appetit!

Annual School Garden Survey Results

As the 2017-18 school year came to a close, Grow Some Good conducted its annual School Garden Survey of teachers and principals. Results of both surveys showed that school garden programs make a significant impact with students and are changing the faces of our school campuses.

Teachers’ School Garden Survey Results

The following tables highlight some of the most significant results that came from about 120 teachers who participate in our program. Results come from grade K-8 and across 10 schools.


Teachers Share Observations Regarding Students’ Activities and Learning.

Teachers in Grow Some Good Programs Report Major Changes in Student Learning as shown in 2018 School Garden Survey

Garden Lessons Extend Beyond Planting & Harvesting

Garden teaching enhances key curriculum as shown in 2018 School Garden Survey

Teacher Comments

“I think Garden is something we ALL look forward to.  The students love being outside and learning in a hands-on environment about things they genuinely find interesting.”


There are some children who struggle with academic learning but excel with the hands-on experience of the garden – this is an important part of their education.


“Students really enjoyed going to the garden and learning about the plants, growing plants, harvesting, observing the cycles of nature, learning about insects, composting, taking care of the plants, and much more!  Such a positive experience!”


“The students love garden days!”

Principals’ School Garden Survey Results

Principals agreed that the gardens make a positive impact on their school campuses.

100% of principals agreed that Garden:

  • Provides additional educational resources for teachers
  • Has added to the beautification of the campus
  • Students have a sense of pride about their school garden.

Principals Also Said…

“The garden adds so much to our school culture and promotes a sense of pride on our campus.”

“Our garden coordinator is awesome, dedicated and makes things happen.”

“It was great this year!”

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.

Delicious Food & Great Fun at Taste of School Gardens

Friends of Grow Some Good Show Their Support

Saturday, March 10th, friends and supporters of Grow Some Good gathered to celebrate the 6th Annual Taste of School Gardens event, held at Maui Tropical Plantation. Guests enjoyed wonderful garden-inspired dishes, with fine wines, local brews, and music by the Deborah Vial Band. The event raised over $50,000 for our school garden programs.

“Zero Waste” Results

With the help of Maui Huliau Foundation Green Events program, we were able to reduce the amount of waste generated from the event that ended up in a landfill to just 7%, while 71% of waste was compostable, and 22% recycled.   

Gardens Change Lives

See how the kids enjoy the garden with our video, “Gardens Change Lives,” created in partnership with the Mālamalama Maui Project and Kilinahe Media.

 

Mahalo to all of our sponsors, restaurant partners, vendors, volunteers, and donors who helped make this a very special night.

 

                

                                                                  

Photo Credits: Mieko Photography

“Zero Waste” at Taste of School Gardens

Goals for the Environment

Grow Some Good cares deeply about our island environment, and it has long been a goal of ours to reduce the amount of waste generated at the annual Taste of School Gardens event. Through our partnership with the Maui Huliau Foundation Green Events program, and our event hosts at Maui Tropical Plantation, this year we hope to meet this goal and minimize the waste that goes to landfills.

What is “Zero-Waste?”

This year we’re excited to present a “zero-waste” event as part of our eco-plan for Taste of School Gardens. What does that mean? Can any event really be “zero-waste?”

Maybe not completely, but we can get close! Zero-waste stations throughout the event will have separate receptacles for food waste and recyclable material, diverting 65-86% of waste from landfills.  Each station has bins, educational signs and volunteers to ensure that items are disposed of properly. These waste stations become educational opportunities to share the importance of the tenants of reduce, reuse, and recycle, and demonstrate how simple it can be.

The use of compostable serving dishes, forks, and spoons, generously donated by Sustainable Island Products, will help reduce waste further. As gardeners, we know the value of composting and creating rich, vibrant soil, and we’re excited about using compostable materials.  We’re also encouraging guests to reuse their glassware, and providing rinse stations for glasses at the wine tents.

Mahalo to our partners in creating a zero-waste event at this year’s Taste of School Gardens.