Food Bank Benefits From HCC Students’ Green Thumbs
Clients of the Big Island’s food bank have Hawaii Community College students to thank for an influx of fresh vegetables.
The 22 students in the school’s agriculture program spent the past eight months growing and harvesting lettuce, eggplant, tomatillos and other vegetables for the Food Basket.
The students reached their goal of 1,000 pounds of produce early last month, HCC officials said today.
“It sounded daunting in the beginning of the fall,” said agriculture student Lenny Fujimoto. “A thousand pounds?! I thought, ‘We need to grow watermelons or something.’ But we managed to do it.”
The half-ton of vegetables does represent a considerable amount.
Andre Buskirk, farm lab coordinator for the agriculture program, said 20 pounds of lettuce fills three large coolers.
Buskirk said the fresh food was appreciated by the Food Basket.
“They always emphasized that vegetables are a nice thing to receive because a lot of what they get are canned goods, and those are important, but we think produce represents something really strong for people’s diets and all around health,” she said.
The weekly deliveries helped the students feel they were assisting the community.
“We took great pride in the quality and quantity of our harvests each week and to know that we could share that quality and wholesomeness with the needy was a great feeling,” Fujimoto said.
“During a lecture, our instructor, Chris Jacobsen, told us that part of being a good agriculturalist was to ‘assure abundance’ for everyone in the community, and this donation program made us feel like we achieved some of that goal.”
According to Jacobsen, the HCC agriculture program, which previously had less than 20 students, is becoming more popular.
The program, which uses greenhouses and fields shared by the University of Hawaii at Hilo farm, helps students prepare for a variety of careers including farming and landscaping.
It has been bolstered recently by grants which have funding the purchase of a tractor, walk-behind tiller and automated greens harvester.