A & C academy adds to growing garden at Ka Hale a Ke Ola

Juniors+Kale%27a+Borling+and+Destinee+Murray+plant+native+plants+on+the+hillside+in+the+community+garden+at+Ka+Hale+A+Ke+Ola+Homeless+Center%2C+October+18%2C+2013.+The+students+from+the+Arts+and+Communication+academy+went+on+a+service+learning+project+to+assist+M%C4%81lama+Maui+Nui+on+the+garden+and+in+the+keiki+areas.

Photo by Maile Sur

Juniors Kale’a Borling and Destinee Murray plant native plants on the hillside in the community garden at Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Center, October 18, 2013. The students from the Arts and Communication academy went on a service learning project to assist Mālama Maui Nui on the garden and in the keiki areas.

WAILUKU — Covered in dirt, paint, greenery, and sweat, students of Kamehameha Schools Maui surely did a lot. About 56 students from the Arts and Communication academy, along with the academy faculty members, went on a service learning project to Ka Hale a Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center today, October 18, 2013.

Their mission was to assist with the community garden already in place.

The garden was started by a non-profit organization, Mālama Maui Nui, previously known as Community Work Day, in late 2011, after the Center for Disease Control gave them a grant. The purpose of the grant was to reduce health disparities for Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders and low-income communities.

“We call it a ‘community empowerment garden,'” Melissa Connelly said. She, along with Rebekah Uccellini, are the two main Mālama Maui Nui representatives working on the garden. The garden was made to create community access to organic fruit and vegetables as well as to bring the community together.

At the start of the project, people told Ms. Connelly that the irrigation ditch, which now houses the garden, was infertile. To the skeptics’ surprise, it is flourishing.

Over the past two years, different groups have volunteered their time to help the garden grow.

There are many aspects to the garden, such as a vegetable terrace, a Native Hawaiian hillside filled with native plants and a culinary bed with a variety of herbs.

Iain Armitage, a senior at KSM, has a personal connection to the project. He had previously worked with Mālama Maui Nui during his junior year while completing his internship. For his senior project, Armitage said he wanted to work with the organization again.

He said, “It’s cool to see everyone I know from school out here, working and lending a hand to help out the community.”

Today, the students spread out into different groups to help with specific tasks. The tasks included working on earth bags to build the vegetable terrace, painting the garden shed with a botanical mural and a chalkboard, planting Native Hawaiian plants, preparing the culinary bed for future planting, working on planting and painting for the Keiki Zone, and painting signs to go with all of the plants and herbs in the garden.

Kumu Kapulani Antonio, academy team leader, said that she hopes that the students will feel good after taking a step back from all of their hard work to see the impact they made.

Many of the students confirmed her hope.

“It felt good to take a break from everything we do for ourselves, and give back to the community,” junior, Kaiani Kiaha said.

The other two academies at Kamehameha Maui also went on service learning projects. The Business and Information Technology academy went to Kīhei Community Center to interact with the elderly, and the Science and Natural Resources academy went to Pu’u Kukui Watershed to do various beach and shoreline activities.

Meanwhile, the ninth and tenth grade students remained on campus attending classes in a modified schedule that included a midday break for attending two different workshops on Hawaiian topics as part of the k-12 semiannual Pōʻalima ʻUlaʻula activities.