Waimea Valley introduces Garden Outreach Program

Jade Eckardt

NORTH SHORE—Waimea Valley launched the Garden Outreach Program, which will see one to two gardens a year built on school grounds throughout the island.

“The purpose of the Waimea Valley Outreach Garden Program is to provide a unique hands-on educational experience for students. We believe the best way to Mālama I ka `Āina (Take care of the land) is to literally get your hands dirty,” said Cultural Field Educator Kahokule`a Haiku. “While speaking to teachers visiting the Valley on field trips, we learned there was a demand to teach students about plants and how to care for them at their schools, thus the Outreach Garden Program was created,” Haiku said.

Schools interested in having their own Hawaiian garden should call (808) 638-7766 and ask for the Cultural Programs Group. The actual cost varies depending on the size. However, a starter garden is approximately $300 which covers 6 yards of soil, wood edging, stepping stones, signage, and plants, which are provided by the Botanical Department of Waimea Valley.

The planting occurs during the rainy months of October through February because the plants will have the best chance of growing to full maturity. The Outreach Garden Team will visit every 6-to-8 weeks to monitor the health of the plants and to also give any guidance and tips if needed. Teachers can also contact Waimea Valley at any time if a question or concern arises.

Iroquois Point Elementary School was the first school to participate in the Garden Outreach Program.

“The students were extremely excited about learning how to build a garden and plant native and canoe plants,” said Deborah Zitkovich, a fourth grade teacher at Iroquois Point Elementary School. “The students are already taking responsibility for the health of the gardens and we will explore the uses for the plants in class projects. Everyone pitched in to make this a reality for our students. The outreach staff was very organized and patient with the children’s exuberance in planting the gardens.”

The gardening process actually starts months before the actual planting day, during which the Waimea Valley horticulturalist grows the specified plants to the desires size for out planting. The maintenance department builds the garden frames approximately 15-feet-by-13 feet each and the botanist makes the appropriate signage. It takes approximately 3 hours to build the two gardens which consist of the following:

Plot 1—Native Plant Garden:
`Ae`ae—3 flats
Ma`o—3 plants
Naupaka kahakai—2 plants
`Ūlei—3 plants
Nānū—3 plants
`A`ali`I—3 plants

Plot 2—Canoe Plant Garden
`Uala—10 plant, 2 varieties
Kalo (Lihilihi Mōlina, Lehua Maoki)—12 plants
Kī—7 plants
Awapuhi—3 plants
Ipu—3 plants
Kō—3 plants
Wauke—5 plants

For more information, call (808) 638-7766 and ask for the Cultural Programs Group.