We live on an island and we want to grow our own food, right? Governor David Ige’s goal of doubling local food production in the next two decades will not be possible without growing new farmers. Scott Enright, the chairperson for the Board of Agriculture, recently told the Star-Advertiser that one of the biggest challenges for the state in producing food locally is cultivating a new generation of agriculturalists.
Part of the solution is our school gardens. Grow Some Good and Maui School Garden Network have led the way at our local schools, linking PTA members, chefs, teachers, parents and kids to school gardens and growing vegetables and fruits.
Grow Some Good helped Halleh Dunnicliffe to expand the Kamali`i school garden when she was part of their Parent Teacher Association.
“My son started Kamali`i at kindergarten,” says Dunnicliffe. “I joined the PTA and by the second year, I became president. I walked around and got to know the campus and saw this cute garden with four boxes that was labeled Second Grade Garden. I thought this is cute but why is it just for the second grade? The faculty said that is all we can do we don’t have money for anything else. I researched and found out that there was a school garden program with Grow Some Good. I called them up, and they said, ‘Gosh, we have been trying to get in that school for a while, but no one has taken the initiative.’ They came out and met with me and I said I am going to do everything I can to get you in here. Little by little, Grow Some Good would come in and expand the garden, and we incorporated them into our PTA funding. We just worked bit by bit to get every grade into the program. It’s been amazing. It’s a now a school wide program at Kamali`i. All grade levels.”
Dunnicliffe was passionate about school gardens because they had helped her as a youth.
“I relate to this on a personal level,” says Dunnicliffe. “I have seen kids that are extremely shy. I came into the U.S. at five years old. I didn’t speak a breath of English. The only thing I could connect with was stuff like music, dance, gardening. You don’t have to speak a language to understand curriculum like that. So I see kids that are English as a second language or have autism or have special needs, they connect when they are holding a plant, digging in the soil. Anything that has to do with nature, soil, earth–they just disconnect from the pressures of school, of ABC and 123 and they learn in a different way. They learn if they put this seed in the ground and watch it grow–that is a learning process for them. You watch them flourish. Their eyes get big, they get excited, they are nurturing, naturing and loving it, connecting with it. That’s what I did as a person that had no idea how to connect with a school, a language that I did not understand. I needed stuff like that to figure out how to fit in. I want to make sure every kid wants to come to school and they don’t feel like hiding in a corner.”
Now Dunnicliffe is a Parent Community Network Coordinator at Lokelani Intermediate and she’s seeing the effects of the school garden program and its influence on young farmers to be.
“Now in the middle school I see older kids coming back to the garden, saying ‘Hey, Nio [Kindla the garden teacher]’ or ‘Hey, Mrs. Whitford [the principal], I became a farmer! My dad and I started farming together.’ That’s exciting to me. We live on an island that can utilize more farmers. I’m seeing the after-effects of what we started at the elementary level. I had no idea how to do a school garden, Grow Some Good did everything. I can build the boxes, but they come in with soil technology, teachers, classroom curriculum and the plan. All they ask for is help and volunteers. It literally and figuratively is planting the seed.”
Grow Some Good will be hosting their annual fundraiser the Taste of School Gardens on March 4 at Hotel Wailea, with live entertainment by Shea Derrick and Full Flavor along with a live and silent auction and food stations featuring some of the harvests from the school gardens. For more information or tickets, go to Growsomegood.org.
Image by Candencia Photography
Taste of School Gardens Menu
COW PIG BUN
Chef Roger Stettler
HOUSE BURGER – Grilled beef patty, focaccia, roasted garlic bacon aioli, gruyere cheese, arugula, balsamic syrup
CPB BRUSSELS SPROUTS – Fried brussels, sweet soy, pickled carrots
Chef Craig Dryhurst
Chef Bruce Trouyet
AQUERELLO RISOTTO – Cooked in tomato consommé with chives, walnut and beet lace
ORANGE & VANILLA POACHED CARROT “ECLAIR” – Grand Marnier cloud
FORK AND SALAD
Chefs Travis Morrin, Cody Christopher, Jaron Blosser
NI’IHAU LAMB AND VEGETABLE CHILI – Ground local lamb, kabocha squash, corn, keiki grown vegetables, tomato, cheddar cheese, sourdough focaccia
CRUNCHER RUEBEN – Pastrami and swiss with green-apple horseradish slaw on a fresh baked rye kaiser roll, with house-made mustard and 1000-island dressing
RATA-TAT – Garlic-chive goat cheese with macadamia nut pesto, grilled veggies, tomato salad and kale slaw on a fresh baked mustard hoagie roll with house-made mustard and meyer lemon aioli
BANANA SPLIT – Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry swirled gelato with sliced bananas, topped with strawberry, pineapple and chocolate fudge sauces, finished with whipped cream, macadamia nuts & a house-baked cherry topped coconut macaroon
Chef Kevin Laut
MARGHERITA PIZZA – Our homemade red sauce, fresh mozzarella, romano cheese, parmesan, italian basil and cherry tomatoes
LILIKOI PORK PIZZA – Garlic aioli base, kalua pork, maui sweet onions, sweet bell peppers, mozzarella cheese, topped with lilikoi syrup
WHITE CHEDDAR MUSHROOM PIZZA – Garlic aioli base, mozzarella cheese, white cheddar cheese, mushrooms, topped with truffle salt
Chef John Cadman
ASSORTED PONO PIES An assortment of delicious ulu (breadfruit) pies from Maui Breadfruit Company, in a variety of flavors.
THE RESTAURANT AT HOTEL WAILEA
Chef Zach Sato
FRESH CATCH SASHIMI WITH FRAGRANT THAI HERBS
GREEN PAPAYA SALAD
Chef Peleg Miron
SHRIMP POISSON CRU ON RICE CRACKER
SLOW COOKED BABY CARROTS
WITH TEMPURA WATERCRESS AND LEMONGRASS
THREE’S BAR AND GRILL
Chefs Travis Morrin, Cody Christopher, Jaron Blosser
PEAS N’ CARROTS -Roasted Oko’a farms organic carrots, pea shoots, macadamia nut pesto, wasabi peas, goat cheese, culinary garden soil