What’s Growing On?

New life is sprouting up everywhere you look at Kihei Elementary School Garden. Over the past few weeks, more than 750 students and teachers planted cultural and nutrition themed gardens, pounded poi and launched scientific investigations, translating curriculum into real life outdoor learning experiences.

What’s growing on in the Food Jungle?
> Kalo (taro) & ‘Olena (turmeric) Patch – more than 140 new plants!
> Gardens of the World: Asia – including okra, squash, bok choy, lemon grass, winged beans, long beans, eggplant, bitter melon and soybeans.
> Gardens of the World: Latin America – Salsa Garden with all the ingredients to make the world’s best salsa!
> Green Bean Teepee Tunnel – Pick green beans from the sky in an edible teepee tunnel with several varieties of organic and heirloom green beans.
> Sweet Potato Mounds – 2nd grade project planting several varieties in two new sweet potato mounds.
> Carrot Patch – planted with short & sweet and red dragon varieties of carrots.
> Salad Bowl & Green Smoothie Gardens – a mix of delicious mesculin greens, kale and chard for salads and green smoothies!
> Pizza Garden – back by popular demand with all the ingredients to make veggie pizzas, this year’s Pizza Garden shaped like a peace sign.

… and more to come!

Calling All Volunteers: Come Grow With Us!

Planting season is in full swing at Kihei Elementary School Garden. This week, more than 200 students replanted kalo (taro), ‘olena (turmeric), learned pa’i’ai (pounding poi) and Native American “Three Sisters” companion planting traditions.

What else is growing on?
> Gardens of the World (East Asia, Latin America, Mediterranean & more!)
> Green Bean Teepee Tunnels
> Sweet Potato Mounds
> Carrots & Beets Patch
> Salad Bowl Garden
> Pizza Garden

… and we’re just getting started.

Planting is happening every day for the next few weeks until Winter Recess begins (Dec. 19 – Jan. 2).  We need volunteers to help us make this a fun, learning experience for everyone. No gardening experience necessary. Learn as you volunteer!

olunteer Hours:
Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
NOTE: All volunteers must register at the school office upon arrival

Kihei Elementery School
250 E Lipoa St  Kihei, HI 96753

If you’d like to get involved, please email info@KiheiSchoolGardens.org or call 808.269.6300. Please indicate day(s) / time(s) available during weekdays. We’ll match you with a class that fits your schedule and fills your heart!

Mahalo for your kokua!

Kalo Harvest for Makahiki Season

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In celebration of the opening of Makahiki season this month, students from Mr. Little’s fourth grade class harvested the remaining taro (called kalo in Hawaiian). The kalo patch was planted and cultivated by last year’s fourth graders with the help of local kalo farmer Hōkūao Pellegrino. During the harvest, students learned the traditional mo’olelo (story) of Haloa (the “root of life”) and the connection of Hawaiians to this revered food staple, the earth and to all living things. After harvesting the kalo, students learned how to prepare the huli (the leaves were removed and the corm cut from the huli – the top portion of the corm) for planting while volunteers assisted students as they worked to lomi (prepare by massaging & loosening) the soil for the new huli.

By the end of the day, more than 60 new kalo plants were carefully planted by students and volunteers. Students also harvested more than 10 lbs. of ‘olena (turmeric root) which were planted within the kalo patch. Next up, students will learn how to prepare and serve kalo, by pounding poi. This process is called pa’i’ai in Hawaiian. All of this in preparation for a four month long Makahiki Festival and study of the traditional offerings of gratitude to Lono (Hawaiian god of fertility) for a bountiful harvest and the new crops to come!

Link here to a complete slideshow.

School Garden Care & Learning Days Nov. 12 & 17

Good things growing at Kihei Elementary School! Students are replanting taro (kalo), planting starts from seeds saved from last year, experimenting with heirloom varieties, and bringing the school garden into full swing again this year.  Parents are invited to share this experience with students during our garden care and learning days. Special guests include Slow Food Maui and Jane Sperr, author of A Kitchen Garden in Kihei Maui Blog. Help support this wonderful outdoor learning environment.
Upcoming events:
Garden with Slow Food Maui & S. Maui Heirloom Expert Jane Sperr Saturday, Nov. 12!
Saturday, Nov. 12
8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Sponsored by members of Slow Food Maui
(11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.) Special guest Jane Sperr, a self-taught back yard gardener & culinary blogger will share her experience with growing heirloom varieties that grow well in South Maui. Don’t miss this special event to contribute toward the garden and learn about organic gardening from your neighbors.
Introducing “Third Thursdays” After School Garden Care Days!
Thursday, Nov. 17
3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Join teachers and volunteers during a new series “Third Thursdays” after-school garden care days. Students are invited to participate with parents during these afternoon sessions.

For more information or to subscribe to our school garden newsletter, please email info@KiheiSchoolGardens.org or call 808.269.6300.

Garden Care & Fruit Fly Trap Workshop This Saturday

kihei elementary school garden south maui school gardens projectWHEN:
Saturday, October 8
Garden Care: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Workshop: 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Kihei Elementary School Garden
250 E. Lipoa Street, Kihei
Center campus adjacent to cafeteria and main office.

Caring for the Garden

Help us create the best garden ever this year at Kihei Elementary School. In the plans: peace pie (pizza) garden, gardens of the world field, expanded Native Hawaiian canoe garden, pollinator gardens, herb spirals, bamboo teepee tunnel of vine plants (beans, cucumber, lilikoi, etc), three sisters garden and more!

No experience necessary in this learning garden. Plenty of garden care projects for the entire family. We’ll be expanding planting areas, building bamboo tee pee tunnels, amending the soil, clearing weeds and old plants, spreading mulch, painting garden signs…

Learn about gardening from your neighbors while working together to inspire keiki to learn from nature. As always, fresh fruit and beverages will be served.
Please bring a hat, sunscreen, gloves, closed toe shoes and a drinking cup.

fruit fly workshop kihei elementary school gardenLearning in the Garden:
Fruit Fly Traps

Urban gardening expert & South Maui School Gardens Project Co-Founder Kathy Becklin will explain why your melons, citrus, tomatoes and zucchini are getting stung and what to do about it. A fruit fly talk followed by a fruit fly trap workshop will take place from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Collect your own empty 2 liter soda bottles and bring them to the event.

We’ll supply the lures specific to fruit flies most common in South Maui. Suggested donation: $5 (DIY with your bottle), $10 (to have one made for you). Proceeds benefit Kihei Elementary School Garden. Email info@KiheiSchoolGardens.org for more information.

See you in the garden!

Guess Who Visited Our School Garden?

Our South Maui School Gardens Project team works hard to make the garden a success.  For Nio and Kirk, it is almost a full time job; for me, it is usually 10-20 hours/week.  People often assume that we are parents of kids in the school.  We are not.  We are volunteers working to improve our future.  Most of the time, we do it all for the kids — the smiles on their faces, the delight in their curious questions and the excitement as the learn about the values that are so important to us.   That is really all the reward we need.

But once in while, like today, we get recognized for that work.   We get to make an impact on the gardens throughout the state.  Today, Governor Neil Abercrombie visited the Kihei Elementary School Garden.

It all started several months ago when Dania Katz from Edible Hawaiian Islands magazine, arranged for one of our chef sponsors, Dan Fiske (PrivateMauiChef.com), to provide lunch to the Governor during a trip to Maui.  Dan immediately sprung into action to highlight the garden at the luncheon, including having a student sit with the Governor.  That was enough to entice the Governor to want to see the garden in action.  We found out a few weeks ago that he was trying to fit it into his trip.  Last week, it was confirmed and we were asked to keep the gathering small.  So we carefully picked who we thought would be critical to discuss our core objectives.  Here are the objectives we gave to the Governor; he said he would keep this short list handy and work to make it happen.

6 Things You Can Do to Help School Gardens Thrive in Hawai’i

  1. Living Classrooms: Advocate for school gardens as integral outdoor learning environments to improve science, math, literacy, physical education and nutrition programs.
  2. Curricula: Facilitate the creation of Hawai’i-based, school garden-inspired standards and benchmarks for K-12 students.
  3. Green School Campuses: Help schools green their campuses: establish recycling programs, purchase chippers to trim hauling fees and turn green waste into mulch for landscaping and school gardens, reduce single-use disposable materials.
  4. Farm-to-School: Encourage the Department of Education (DOE) to foster local farm-to-school pilot programs, connecting students to their food sources.
  5. Garden-to-Cafeteria: If they grow it, they’ll eat it! Establish DOE guidelines that allow use of school garden produce in cafeterias and school nutrition programs.
  6. Wellness & Organic Produce for All: Support programs that link school gardens with community wellness and local food system improvements.

One thing that Governor Abercrombie stated that really stuck in my mind was that we don’t want to make Kihei Elementary or any similar school be special.    A successful school garden shouldn’t be headline news.  We need to have all of our schools hold these values and make it the norm.   Our keiki are our future.   We are what we eat.   We live on island and should be more self-sufficient.   This vision isn’t rocket science and I’m happy that our Governor get’s it.

It is going to take lots of work to change DOE systems and work through USDA standards.  But it can be done.   And each step forward will result in kids that are healthier, smarter and who will grow up to take our beautiful state to a higher level.

So this week, we worked hard to prepare for the big event.  The garden had to look good and at the end of the gardening season in Kihei, that is no easy task.   I kept reminding the guys that the garden looks so much better this year than it did last year at this time.  We coordinated menus with Chef Brian Etheredge and Chef Chris Kulis from Capische? to provide lunch in the garden.  It was already a busy week packed with taping a spot on AKAKU and curriculum planning with teachers who are getting ready for school to start next week.  We made our guest list, reviewed and cut.   We planned all the event details.  We harvested as much as we could and delivered it to the chefs.   My special thanks to all the people that participated.  Each person’s contribution was so important!

If you have an interest in supporting School Gardens in South Maui, connect with us!   We need more project team members, volunteers, parents, community sponsors, grant writers and donations!   If you have interest in creating or augmenting a school garden in Maui County,  contact Lehn at the Maui School Garden Network.

It takes a Community to Start a Garden!

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View full slideshow on Flickr.

YMCA Camp Nalu — For The Love of Food

One of the most important aspects of school gardens is connecting kids to healthy eating habits and engaging them in growing and preparing their own food.  For school garden programs, chefs are the connection to inspiring lifelong healthy eaters.

We are so fortunate to have local chefs – Dan Fiske (www.PrivateMauiChef.com ), Brian Etheridge & Christopher Kulis (Capische?) and Peter Merriman (Monkeypod Kitchen) – who support South Maui School Gardens Project as financial sponsors, farmers, volunteers and mentors.

Earlier this summer, Chef Dan traded his chef’s jacket for overalls and became “Farmer/Chef Dan” for six days with more than 50 kids in YMCA Camp Nalu and our amazing volunteers.  Each Monday, campers rushed into the Kihei Elementary School garden to learn about soil building, pollinators, planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables. Then, Farmer/Chef Dan recruited kitchen helpers from the group to prepare keiki-friendly recipes using fresh, organic garden ingredients.

Check out our YMCA Camp Nalu Flickr album with highlights from the summer!

Mahalo nui loa to our sponsors and volunteers who continue to share their love of good nutrition and local ingredients with our future locavore chefs and organic farmers!


Kihei Elementary Kids Say Thank You!

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We’ve received some great cards and thank-you letters from Kihei Elementary School students after the pizza party with Chefs Dan Fiske (PrivateMauiChef.com) and Christopher Kulis (Capische.com).

Letters featured from:
– Ms. Romerdahl’s 1st grade class
– Ms. Fujii’s 2nd grade class
– Mr. Wade’s 3rd grade class

View the complete slideshow on flickr.

Mahalo nui loa to all the volunteers, teachers, chefs and kids that made this event so much fun for everyone!

We’ve got worms!

Worm composting, or vermiculture, provides students an opportunity to enrich their school garden, both literally and figuratively, and is an easy way to teach students that waste is in the eye of the beholder.  While learning and applying skills that satisfy Hawaii State Academic Standards,  students can study worms and how worm composting turns garbage into worm food and then  into soil nutrition for new plantings.

Use of school cafeteria and garden vegetable waste for the worm bin also provides opportunities for a variety of interesting experiments, and maintaining  a worm bin in the classroom can culminate in a school garden or class project using the finished super nutrient rich product as worm “castings” or worm “tea”.

By organizing students or classes into worm care teams, (or worm farmers!) they take on the responsibility of providing an optimal habitat for the worms. Such responsibility is an important component of student development and an added bonus to this hands on garden learning experience.   Contact Kirk Surry – School garden Coordinator for South Maui School Gardens Project to schedule a learn about worms class.

Thanks to Kihei School Garden volunteer Buck Joiner for donating our first red wigglers and their new worm bin home located in the KES garden.

Learn basic anatomy of a worm in real life by bringing your class to the garden for a fun and educational opportunity to bring your classroom lessons to life in the garden.

For more in-depth exploration of worm composting download a copy of “The Worm Guide – A Vermicompsting Guide for Teachers”.


Fun Worm Facts

  • There are over 2000 species of earthworms worldwide.
  • There is a species of earth worm that grows to over 8 feet long.
  • Worms do not have eyes but have light sensitive cells. They are also sensitive to touch and vibration.
  • Worm bodies consist of a digestive system, a circulatory system (with about 5 hearts) a head and a tail as well as reproductive parts.
  • Worms are hemaphrodites, having both male and female reproductive organs.
  • Some species of worms can survive for days in water.
  • Worms have setae, which are tiny bristles, which allow them to attach themselves in a certain spot in the ground, making it harder for birds to snatch them up!
  • Most wormsare burrowers, foraging deep into the ground for food. Others are top dwellers and are well suited for bin type composting.
  • The burrowing action or worms helps to aerate the soil (adds oxygen) and their castings (poop) provide the soil with nutrients along their journey.
  • Worms are primarily vegetarians, they prefer dead organic matter as food, like mulch, leaves and vegetable scraps, but will also dine on cardboard, newspaper or even drier lint.