When you drive through the gate, you can just make out the tops of the houses over the cane: the only reminder that you’ve entered a garden, not a fairy glen or Hobbit shire. In the middle of it all, the giant picnic table and benches made from an old tree trunk sitting beneath a kukui tree add to the feel. Once a eucalyptus grove, the garden now resembles a colorful patchwork quilt of plots growing green squash, red lettuce and purple taro, with unoccupied plots covered in blue tarp.
Tucked away between a neighborhood and a cane field, Hali‘imaile Community Garden exists on two acres of land donated by Maui Land & Pineapple Company in 2006. The community garden provides members with the means to organically grow their own produce, promoting a lifestyle of food self-sufficiency.
Hali‘imaile Community Garden secretary and treasurer Lori Feroldi said she’s kept track of her gardening expenses since she started in 2009, and growing her own fruits and vegetables really does make for a great deal. “It’s just about getting back to the ‘aina and knowing where your food comes from and what goes into it,” said Feroldi. “Even some organic producers use wax on their vegetables to make them look better. It’s unnecessary; I don’t need that inside of me. I don’t wax my cucumbers and they taste just as good.”
To raise money for garden maintenance and repair, Hali‘imaile Community Garden is partnering with Flatbread Company in Paia. On Aug. 20, from 5-10pm Flatbread will be donating a portion of pizza purchases to the garden, as well as hosting a silent auction. Garden members have also banded together to publish a cookbook featuring recipes for healthy dishes that use products grown in the garden. The cookbook is available for purchase on their website Haliimailegarden.weebly.com.
Members pay $100 a year per 10 foot by 20-foot plot, a fee that covers the water and mowing expenses of the garden. With a total of 100 plots, the garden is currently at about 70 percent occupancy, which leaves plenty of room for new members to join.
At less than $10 a month for the annual fee, the other expenses for tools and seed still comes out less than buying produce from the grocery store every week. With succession planting procedures and a warm year-round climate, a plot can continually provide for a small family.
Because the garden is dedicated to growing organically, Feroldi and other gardeners have come up with a few inventive ways to keep away destructive pests. Dish soap does the trick to keep away aphids, while baking soda or chili powder will get rid of ants.
One of Feroldi’s favorite things about being involved in the garden is the sense of community it provides. Often you’ll find members sharing their produce or helping each other weed or water. People come from all over the island with varying levels of aptitude to be involved, adding their own unique skills to the mix. With their community work days and garden potlucks, a working community is created.
In addition to the individual plots, there’s a community herb garden and orchard that are cared for and enjoyed by all members. This year, the Goodwill Garden was also started as a way to “sow it forward” and share the bounty from one community to another. All the produce grown in the Goodwill Garden is donated to the Maui Food Bank and Hale Kau Kau to feed Maui’s hungry.
“It’s a great partnership, because no one usually donates fresh produce,” said Feroldi. “Right now, we’re working on a crop of sweet potatoes that will be ready just in time for Thanksgiving.”