Chefs + Garden + Kids = Inspiring Maui School Garden Video!

This video by Emmy winning photographer Jess Craven tells the story of Grow Some Good and their work with a Maui school garden that has grown from 3 box beds to nearly a quarter acre edible schoolyard and learning lab in the heart of campus. This is an edited version of the original segment, which aired on Jess’ show “Self Made in Hawaii.”

Kihei Elementary School garden – located in Kihei, Maui, Hawaii – serves as a palate for more than 850 students to grow, harvest and taste their creations while supporting curriculum taught in the classroom. Local chefs also support the garden through fundraisers, recipe workshops and harvest parties. The story shows how kids get excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables when they grow it and prepare it themselves. Kihei Elementary School garden is an ongoing project of Grow Some Good.

Grow Some Good: Kihei Elementary School Garden with Chefs from Grow Some Good on Vimeo.

Thanks to Jess Craven for his amazing work on this video!

Math Matters in the Garden

Measuring Perimeter, Area & Volume / Inspiring Entrepreneurial Minds 

This week, third and fourth graders at Kihei Elementary School and Wailuku Elementary School practiced measuring perimeter, area and volume in the garden to determine quantities of soil and lumber required to build a new raised garden bed and design garden layouts.

The measurements were also used to determine how many plants could be planted in the surface area of the new bed and how a farmer would use these math skills to determine what price to charge for produce.

Lots of fun and a great way to inspire entrepreneurial skills at an early age!

Here’s a link to Kids Gardening resources on a variety of math lessons to incorporate into your school garden programs.

Grow Some Good w/ Kihei Community Association

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The school garden movement is thriving throughout Hawaii and creating hands-on educational programs for students of all ages. On Tuesday, March 20, Grow Some Good  gave a special presentation about programs that teach local students and their families to grow nutritious, organic fruits and vegetables – on any budget, in any community or living space.

Nio Kindla, Kathy Becklin, Kerry Wilkins and Kirk Surry – co-founders of Grow Some Good – Educational School Gardens on Maui (, were guest speakers at the Kihei Community Association meeting, sharing gardening tips and recipes, discussing the outlook for regional school and community gardens, how to start a nonprofit to fund your projects, guerilla gardening and more.

Project: Plant It! students and volunteers shared ready-to-transplant organic and heirloom garden starts and gave advice on caring for them. Attendees learned about South Maui-specific gardening tips and sampled healthy snacks made fresh from Kihei El and Lokelani school garden produce, during this student-driven outreach project to inspire more back yard and hui gardens!
Read more about the event at the Kihei Community Association blog.

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!

Work & Learn This Saturday

Saturday, Dec. 10
8 a.m. to 11 a.m.Where:
Kihei Elementery School
250 E Lipoa St  Kihei, HI 96753

This weekend’s Garden Care Day will focus on building a new herb spiral garden, stringing jute runners for the green bean teepee tunnel, making directional signs, garden visioning, weeding, and basic garden maintenance.

Free Starts!
Volunteers this Saturday will learn about heirloom and organic plant varieties that grow well in South Maui this time of year and receive free plant starts and/or seeds to start their own herb gardens at home.

Our garden care days are always a lot of fun and a great way to learn about organic gardening from people in the neighborhood. Join us for all or part of the day. Water and light refreshments will be provided.

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.

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 (, 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.

seed saving class at kihei elementary school garden

Seed Saving: The Cycle of Life… In Real Life

seed saving class at kihei elementary school garden
KES Teachers - Sign up for seed saving classes!

When teaching life sciences and sustainability with students of any age, seed saving is an essential element that bridges the gap between a text book explanation and real life.  As students experience the full cycle of a plant, from planting the seed to harvesting the seed, the concept of life cycles is experienced more deeply beyond words or charts.

You’re invited to dive into our wonderful collection of plant flowers, collected from garden goodies as they’ve bolted into Spring.

Class options include:

  • “Why Save Seeds?” talk story
  • Pollination – Self-pollinators and insects as pollinators
  • Wet & dry seed-saving techniques
  • Seed storage tips
  • Take away seeds for home gardens and next year’s school garden!

Volunteers are available 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to assist classes at Kihei Elementary School garden. To request volunteer assistance for your class, email INFO AT GROWSOMEGOOD DOT COM the following info:

Teacher / Grade Level

Number of Students

Requested Day / Time

Dear Governor Abercrombie…

South Maui School Gardens Project bag and letter to Gov. Neil Abercrombie

On May 15, South Maui School Gardens Project joined Kihei Elementary School students, volunteers and our chef sponsors from Capische? and to cater lunch for Hawai’i State Governor Neil Abercrombie and his staff, following a talk story event at the MACC.  Lunches prepared with organic, school garden-grown produce also included the following letter encouraging statewide policy and funding support for school gardens – all received with great enthusiasm by The Gov! More about the lunch.

Aloha Gov. Abercrombie and Guests –

Your lunch today is made with produce grown by more than 650 students, teachers and community volunteers at Kihei Elementary School, and healthfully prepared by our chef sponsors from Capische? and Our gardens are thriving with strong support from the community. With your kokua, these living classrooms can inspire greater learning experiences and better nutrition for thousands of students in Hawai’i.

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

1. A Garden in Every School: Create sustainable funding sources for school gardens and support development of “A Garden in Every School” program in Hawai’i.

2. Farm-to-School: Encourage the Departments of Education and Health to foster farm-to-school pilot programs.

3. Garden-to-School: Establish state guidelines that allow use of school garden produce in cafeterias and school nutrition programs.

4. Living Classrooms: Advocate for school gardens as integral outdoor learning environments to improve science, math, literacy, physical education and nutrition programs.

5. Curricula: Facilitate the creation of Hawai’i-based school garden curricula for K-12 students and professional development for teachers and garden educators.

6. Wellness & Organic Produce for All: Support programs which link school gardens with community wellness and local food system improvements.

About South Maui School Gardens Project

The South Maui School Gardens Project is dedicated to creating hands-on, learning experiences that cultivate curiosity about natural life cycles, connect students to their food sources, and inspire better nutrition choices. We help schools establish food gardens and living science labs in local schools and connect resources and curriculum support through community partnerships in agriculture, science, food education, and nutrition. The South Maui School Gardens Project is a nonprofit organization, sponsored by Tri-Isle RC&D. For more information, visit

Mahalo nui loa for helping to Grow Our Future!