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!

Gov. Abercrombie Digs Into School Garden Lunch with Kihei El Students

Jade Coulter presents Kihei Elementary School garden lunch for Hawai'i Governor Neil Abercrombie
Jade Coulter reads the menu from Governor Neil Abercrombie's box lunch prepared with produce from Kihei Elementary School garden

One of the great things about this program is its focus on the good things growing in our schools, even when  news headlines seem riddled by the problems. Kihei Elementary students Jade and Maile Coulter were able to share their good news (and food!) when they presented box lunches for Hawai’i Gov. Neil Abercrombie and his staff after a talk story event on Sunday, May 15, at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. The lunches also included a letter to the Governor from South Maui School Gardens Project, encouraging statewide policy and funding support for school gardens in Hawai’i.

All week, students and volunteers have harvested sweet potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, basil, arugula, eggplant, green onions, Maui onions and lemongrass from the Kihei Elementary School garden to supply organically-grown ingredients for this special event. Lunches were prepared and delivered by our awesome chefs in reusable containers and a South Maui School Gardens Project eco shopping bag, designed and printed by a Makebelieve Company.

Sweet Potato Harvest at Kihei Elementary School garden, Governor Neil Abercrombie
Kihei Elementary School students harvest sweet potatoes for lunch with The Gov!

Mahalo to Chef Dan Fiske (, Chef Brian Etheredge and Chef Christopher Kulis (Capische? and Il Teatro) and all the teachers, students and volunteers who helped us deliver a delicious lunch and make a lasting impression with The Gov!

On the menu:

  • Grilled Whole Grain Bread Sandwich with Sweet Basil Pesto, Grilled Japanese Eggplant, Arugula, Fresh Mozzarella, Balsamic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Homemade Purple Sweet Potato Salad w/Green Onions
  • Pickled Green Beans and Maui Onions
  • Yee’s Famous Maui Mango
  • Homemade Candied Macadamia Nuts
  • Lemongrass Iced Tea


Kihei School Garden Chef Sponsor Featured in Maui Menu Magazine

Chef Sponsors in the News

Kihei School Garden Chef Sponsor Featured in Maui Menu MagazineChef Brian Etheredge of Capische? and Il Teatro  and friend, celebrated Maui Chef Dan Fiske, recently teamed up to help fund the  South Maui School Gardens Project at Kīhei Elementary School where kids learn about the importance of food systems in their community and get connected to the environment in a hands on and exciting way.  A positive offshoot of the project is that young people learn about nutrition and sustainability while using skills helpful in language arts, math, science and social studies.

“Society and mass marketing put forth food options for children that I don’t necessary support and this is my way of standing up for the future health and welfare of our children,” shares Chef Brian in a typical moment of enthusiasm when asked about the garden project.  “Everyone has a voice in this community and this is one way that I choose to use my skills to give back and contribute to the Island ‘ohana.”

Read full article in Menu Magazine.