Inspiring Food Independence in our Keiki
Lauren Ruotolo, Program Manager
Summer garden programs are so much fun! From nurturing the plants with plenty of water to harvesting the abundance of fruits and veggies that were planted in the spring - we have found ourselves busy and nourished. We've enjoyed partaking in the Kohala Elementary Discovery Garden Summer Blast Program. We stayed hydrated by drinking plenty of coconut water and energized by eating lots of the meat. Can you believe that a few of these students had never tried coconut before?! Another delicious drink we generated was sugar cane juice! With HIP Ag’s manual cane press and sugar can stalks, the students helped crank out more than a gallon of sweet sugar cane juice. Additionally we brought a few interesting fruits for the students to try such as jackfruit, sweet limes and dragonfruit. Education can come in all forms… exploring with the tastebuds is certainly one of them! With all the nourishment, together we planted a pomegranate tree, pineapples, and a miracle berry bush in their school garden.
The students also took two days harvesting their kalo (taro) patch and scrubbing it clean for some ai pono (good food!). HIP Agriculture then welcomed the group to the farm where they learned to make pai’ai on our mango poi boards. Each student left with their own special bag of pai’ai and ended the day with kalo waffles topped with honey mac-nut syrup! YUM.
We ended Summer Blast at the elementary school with a smoothie-bike to the school. Yes, a smoothie-bike - a stationary bicycle with a blender attached. The students took turns peddling as fast as they could manage in order to grind up fruit smoothie concoctions of watermelon, coconut water, banana, and papaya. To say the least, it was a productive and tasty summer in the garden for all involved.
Simutaneously, you could find us this summer at the Kohala Middle school where we planted 12 fruit trees on campus. The edible landscape project is now complete, fashioned with ulu, dwarf tangelos, navel orange, lemon, kou, and kukui trees. Additionally we planted surnam cherries, kalo, and banana around campus. With this summer heat we’ve been bringing water to our trees weekly, and they will soon flourish, with the goal to providing fruit for the school. We hope to also use the trees as an educational tool to inspire students and community members to grow more food.