Summer School Garden Tours

IMG_3167Grow Some Good supporters recently took a tour of all the good things growing in two of our most established school garden programs at Lokelani Intermediate School and Kihei Elementary School.  Guests spent 2 hours exploring the transformation of garden spaces and learning about the scope of garden planning, education and maintenance involved.

Before & After

Visitors compared the current sites with “before” pictures to fully appreciate the school beautification improvements since the school garden projects began.

Lokelani Intermediate School

The before and after photos below feature one of many building sites at Lokelani, comparing the original landscaping in 2011 to present.  Grow Some Good led student and faculty efforts to renovate the entire campus, earning a statewide Cooke Foundation Beautification Award in 2013.

Lokelani classroom - before and after

Lokelani Intermediate also houses Grow Some Good’s equipment and tool resource center and serves as the site of the main Grow Some Good nursery, supporting 12 Grow Some Good schools and Maui School Garden Network schools across Maui, Lanai and Molokai. This central storage facility for plants, gardening tools, event supplies, and lesson materials is critical to providing consistent school garden operations throughout the islands.

Kihei Elementary School

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Kihei School Garden Coordinator Nadine Rasmussen (left) showcases a vibrant kalo (taro) patch, compared to the original garden expansion (above) in 2009 where temporary grow bags were installed while soil was mulched and amended for in-ground planting.

 

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Here we have three layers of activity in the garden: carrots growing in the foreground, tomato plants climbing behind them up the base of the trellis, and ipu hanging up above, where they are drying in preparation to be made into musical instruments as part of our cultural studies program.

 

 

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Program Operations Manager Nio Kindla talks about the importance of composting and soil sifting, and how it benefits the entire garden.

 

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Visitors gather under a shade structure that was recently built through a capital improvement grant to protect students from the harsh Kihei sun and provide a comfortable outdoor classroom.

If you would like to join us for an upcoming school garden tour, contact us.

 

Lokelani Waverider Pride Blooms

DSCN2243(1)This week, students at Lokelani Intermediate School continued their campus wide beautification and sustainable agriculture program with more than 100 students, teachers and volunteers gathering to Mālama ‘Āina as ohana. Garden terraces, classrooms and entries were weeded, mulched and planted with incredible enthusiasm from students.

Mahalo nui loa to the Cooke Foundation for funding and inspiring the continuation of this incredible transformation. The entire campus is filled with new life, tremendous pride, honor and laulima – many hands working together – to create a kinder, more prosperous future.

It’s happening in a school garden near you. Dig in.  https://growsomegood.org/volunteer/

To see more photos by ‘Āina Angels Laura Van Wagner and Nio Kindla, VISIT OUR FACEBOOK ALBUM

Soil Building with Cover Crops

The hottest summer months in Kihei are tough on most garden plants, but it’s a great time to introduce cover crops for improving soil health and preparing for the next planting season. These crops also serve as great tools to teach students about nitrogen and its role in the life cycle.

All plants need nitrogen to make amino acids, proteins and DNA. Approximately 80 percent of the air surrounding the earth is nitrogen gas. However, nitrogen in gas form is not usable by most plants. First, nitrogen needs to be converted from its atmospheric gas form to ammonium compounds to become available to plants. To achieve this, many organic farmers use nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Cover crop benefits and tips include:

Boosting Soil Fertility & Nitrogen Fixing

Cover crops, also known as green manures, recycle nutrients and add organic matter to the soil.  The nutrients are absorbed and stored inside plants. When nutrients are needed for the next crop, the old plants are dug into the soil or used as mulch on top of the soil. We always explain to students, “old plants make food for new plants.”

Legumes – such as alfalfa, peas, beans, clover and vetch – are particularly beneficial to replenish nitrogen available to plants. During the process, called “nitrogen fixing,” rhizobial bacteria take residence in root nodules of legumes and convert biologically unavailable atmospheric nitrogen gas to a plant-available ammonium compound.

Inoculating Seeds for Better Nitrogen Fixing

There are multiple strains of nitrogen-fixing rhizobia, and each is specific to a certain type of legume. For instance, the rhizobia strain associated with vetch will also work with peas, but not alfalfa. When legumes are inoculated with the proper strain of rhizobial bacteria, they produce large, pink nodules on the roots of the host plant. The pinkish color indicates the presence of a hemoglobin-like molecule that is necessary for nitrogen fixation to occur.

Rhizobia live naturally in the soil. However, the strains already present may not always be compatible for your cover crop or in the amount necessary for effective nitrogen fixation. To increase the odds, many gardeners inoculate their cover crop seeds by lightly dusting them with the appropriate rhizobial bacteria strains prior to planting. Rhizobial bacteria powder may be found in or near the seed section at your local nursery. Check the label to ensure the inoculant matches your cover crop seed of choice. We’ve had difficulty finding inoculant on store shelves on Maui, so ordering online is the best option here. Peaceful Valley has a great selection of seed inoculants with instructions on proper use of each strain.

Improving Soil Structure & Habitat

Cover crops strengthen soil structure, letting more air into the soil, improving drainage, maintaining viable living space for beneficial microorganisms and insects. Cover crops can also help the sandy soils found in Kihei hold more water. While some cover crops are drought resistant, beneficial bacteria generally fare better with moisture.

Preventing Soil Erosion and Compaction

Cover crops help prevent soil from being carried away by wind and rain. The roots penetrate the soil and hold it in place. Having plants constantly growing in your gardening spaces also gives a visual cue to help deter kids from marching through and compacting the soil.

Controlling Weeds

Bare soil can become quickly overgrown with weeds, which can be difficult to remove once they’ve become established. A good ground cover can prevent weeds from growing by competing for nutrients, space and light.

Want to learn more? You’re invited to help us plant new cover crops and learn hands-on how to improve nitrogen availability for healthy new garden plants. Attend our upcoming Work & Learn Days or email info@GrowSomeGood.org for more information on participating in classes with Kihei Elementary & Lokelani Intermediate students.

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 (www.GrowSomeGood.org), 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.

Chef Jana’s Localicious Recipes!

chef jana mcmahon and suzanne cleveland carlsonWhat a great day of connecting with a group of educators and volunteers sharing outdoor learning ideas and touring South / Central Maui school gardens – organized by Anne Gachuhi of Home Gardening Support Network and Lehn Huff, Maui School Garden Network.

The Feb. 4 tour featured four schools  – Kihei Elementary School, Lokelani Intermediate school, Kihei Charter School and Maui Hui Malama Learning Center.

Mahalo nui to Anne, Lehn, volunteers and other visitors for making this an awesome day. Special appreciation to Private Chef and Slow Food Maui member Jana McMahon and Suzanne Cleveland Carlson for preparing a beautiful, localicious lunch. We all cleaned our plates and asked for recipes. So.. Here you go!  Mahalo Chef Jana for sharing!

The school garden movement on Maui is growing strong with so many schools now incorporating outdoor learning into curricula. This is wonderful news to all of us who would like to see keiki learn about food, nature and the environment at an earlier age. Curious about all the good things growing in our schools?  Visit a school garden in your neighborhood and dig in!

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Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman

June 14 – Monkeypod Kitchen Hosts Fundraising Dinner for Lokelani School Garden

Monkeypod Kitchen by MerrimanMonkeypod Kitchen by Merriman is hosting a special fundraising dinner to support the launch of new school gardens and outdoor learning programs for more than 600 students at Lokelani Intermediate School in Kihei. The Lokelani program launch is a collaborative effort between South Maui School Gardens Project and Community Work Day Program.

Twenty percent of net dinner receipts collected during Monkeypod Kitchen’s dinner service hours on Tuesday, June 14, will support South Maui School Gardens Project in installing educational gardens and providing program support for teachers, students and volunteers. Guests are also invited to make donations to purchase specific wish list items for the project. Donation forms will be available for those who would like to receive a tax deductible donation letter in return.

In addition to hosting the fundraising dinner, Monkeypod Kitchen has signed on as an ongoing financial contributor to the program and provides an incentive program for employees who volunteer in the garden.

Lokelani School garden design by permaculture specialist Rebekah Kuby
Lokelani School garden design by permaculture specialist Rebekah Kuby

Plans for Lokelani include Native Hawaiian gardens, food producing and educational gardens, fruit tree orchards, a chef’s garden for the cafeteria, multi-cultural heritage gardens, and pocket gardens throughout the campus. Students and teachers from all disciplines are taking ownership of this transformative project by creating new outdoor learning activities. Nutritional education, natural science projects, video documenting, creative writing for the school garden blog, garden design drafts, research and planning are just a few curricula in development with Lokelani teachers for the coming school year.

Come join us for drinks and dinner to celebrate the good things growing in our schools!

WHEN:

Fundraiser – Tuesday, June 14, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.

WHERE:

Monkeypod Kitchen, 10 Wailea Gateway Place, Unit B-201 Kihei, Hawaii 96753

RESERVATIONS:

Call (808) 891-2322

Monkeypod Kitchen is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. for lunch and dinner. Outdoor seating features views of Kaho’olawe and Lanai. This event previews Maui Film Festival weekend, so reservations encouraged, walk-ins warmly welcome.