New garden for Kilohana Elementary
By Melissa Kelsey
On top of reading, writing and arithmetic, growing fresh produce will be part of the school day at Kilohana Elementary School. For the patch of land behind the school, members of the group Ka`ano imagine a community garden.
“This is one of the things that we have been wanting to do for a long time,” said Charlene Martin, a volunteer at Ka`ano, the organization known as the Molokai Seed Bank.
In addition to growing food, keiki will also learn how to preserve seeds, according to Ka`ano volunteer Jade Bruhjell. One of Ka`ano’s goals is to establish a seed bank of heirloom seeds on Molokai that Bruhjell said could decrease the island’s dependence on outside food sources.
“You start with the children,” said Martin. “We are going to teach them how to save their seeds, so they will have quality seeds of their own.”
Martin said Ka`ano members and Kilohana Elementary School teacher Mapuana Hanapi were both interested in a garden project for the school, so they worked together to brainstorm ideas. The school may use the garden’s produce to supplement its cafeteria food options and generate trade opportunities for the school, according to Martin.
“Hopefully, this will be a foundation of understanding for this generation of youth that will bring a resonance between the natural land and people,” said Bruhjell.
Martin said in the future, Ka`ano hopes to tackle similar projects at other Molokai schools.
Cultivating the Past
The idea of growing food at Kilohana Elementary School is not new. Garden project volunteer Russel Phifer attended the school in the 1960s. At the time he was a student, he said there was an educational farm at the school. Keiki worked on farm projects, recycling as much as possible for future use.
“It is good to know the past, and how things were before,” said Phifer.
Molokai schools also have a history of producing other food products, according to Phifer, who said Molokai High School used to run a dairy farm and produce milk.
“Back then, everything was produced here,” said Phifer, remembering how the island used to be less dependent on the barge. “Now, everything is packaged and shipped in,” he said.