Itching to plant: Waimea blesses Aloha I Ka Aina garden

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LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — One day, if Waimea High School principal's dream comes true, there will be a weekly gathering of people similar to a farmer's market at the Aloha I Ka Aina, or Waimea Aloha Garden site.

Wednesday, Mahina Anguay, the Waimea principal, Greg Harding, the Waimea High School Natural Resources pathway teacher, and Kaina Makua welcomed guests and students to the blessing of the Aloha I Ka Aina garden that was a result of more than a year of collaborative effort between the community and the school.

"The kids are itching to start planting," Harding said. "This is the blessing of the lot measuring 110 feet by 70 feet which was overgrown and filled with trash. We hope to have an orchard with fruit trees and eventually an eating garden. This is like the Willie Wonka Chocolate Factory, except it's all good."

The garden area is joined by an aquaponics facility which has already demonstrated its effectiveness, a hatchery for the aquaponics facility, as well as an area outside Harding's classroom where starters and sprouts flourish.

"When we talked about this, it was about sustainability," Anguay said. "This is going to be here long after our, myself and Mr. Harding's stay here is done. The stars of this event are the keiki."

Harding said one of the goals of Aloha I Ka Aina is to get the kids to eat better, to be able to bring home produce grown, and to learn how to cook vegetables.

"This is not necessarily that they need to become farmers," Harding said. "But they will have the knowledge of how to grow things, and how to cook these vegetables they have grown."

Daylen Vidinha, a 10th grade student, said this is about surviving in the real world.

"I started last year as a freshman," Vidinha said. "So far, the aquaponics side has harvested bak choi, lettuce, and tomatoes. These were given to the teachers. Eventually, we want to grow enough to be able to take them to the farmers market. They teach us how to cook the vegetables we grow — how to survive in the real world."

Anguay said the Aloha I Ka Aina is one of the enterprise ideas from the five pathways — arts and communications, industrial engineering and technical, natural resources, public human services, and health — at Waimea High School.

"This garden is similar to the Mao Farms in Waianae on Oahu and we have Kauai Community College here to help with the early college program," Anguay said. "Our other enterprise ideas include the students who are working with Joyce Evens to set up a high tech youth center here on campus. We also worked with the Kauai Economic Opportunity to open a preschool on campus after Headstart closed its Kekaha school."

Breanne Brun, a Waimea student, likes working with Aloha I Ka Aina.

"They teach us how to give back to the land," Brun said.

Peter Wiederoder of Dow Agrosciences said they were the first ones in on the project, lending expertise and equipment to start clearing the plot.


Information from: The Garden Island,

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