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Garden Education at Holualoa Elementary

August 1, 2015, 8:22 AM HST
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Holualoa Elementary School will experience a first as it begins its new school year, a part-time school garden educator.

With support from the County of Hawai’i Research & Development Department and the Hickey Family Foundation, the Kohala Center was able to provide the new position at Holualoa Elementary School’s Native Hawaiian learning garden. Additional gardening programs in the West Hawai’i complex will also be supported during the school year.

Kamuela Meheula-Naihe of Kailua-Kona is the head of the project and brings extensive experience in creating and curating learning gardens. In 2008, she began working in school gardens as a volunteer parent. Meheula-Naihe later went on to establish the learning garden at Ke Kula ‘o ‘Ehunuikaimalino in Kealakekua.

The after-school agriculture program, Hua o Ke Ao, for students grades 4 through 8 was established in 2010 by Meheula-Naihe at the Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Gardens.

“I am excited to enhance Holualoa Elementary’s learning garden with native Hawaiian plants and crops,” Meheula-Naihe said.  “Learning about Hawaiian ethnobotany with students allows them to gain a deeper sense of place and respect for the intimate relationships between people, land, and their practices. Gaining at least some knowledge of traditional landscapes is important for students as they learn how to interact with their environment.”

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Under Meheula-Naihe’s direction, school garden teachers in West Hawai’i will work to increase their students’ connections with ancestral knowledge of agriculture and agrobiodiversity, the ahupua’a system of natural resource management, and traditional Hawaiian values, protocols, and language.

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“Hawaii County’s R&D department was interested in supporting a school garden specialist with solid knowledge of indigenous crops, traditional farming practices, and a deep connection with the ‘aina that sustains us,” said Nancy Redfeather, director of The Kohala Center’s Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network. “The Hickey ‘ohana, a farming family in Holualoa, provided additional support to ensure that a highly qualified and knowledgeable educator would fill this role. We’re grateful for this partnership that will provide the learning garden at Holualoa El with outstanding intellectual leadership and connect West Hawai‘i students with Native Hawaiian plants, foods, and values of aloha ‘aina (love for the land).”

To learn more about or to volunteer with a Hawai’i Island school garden, visit The Kohala Center’s website or contact Redfeather by e-mailing [email protected]

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