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The School Garden Network of Hawaii Requires School Gardens

Guest Blog from Donna Mitts — Program Coordinator, The Kohala Center

For nearly eight years I’ve been a coordinator for The Kohala Center’s . Founded in the year 2000, ” is a independent, community-based center for conservation, research, and education. The Center works for a brilliant, sustainable potential for Hawai`i by focusing on four important areas: water, food, location, and individuals.

By encouraging over 60 school learning homes on Hawai`i Island through technical assistance and professional development plans, HISGN joins Hawai`i’s keiki (kids) to fresh food, healthier eating habits, and the ‘āina (property) itself. The Kohala Center also administers the Farm along with FoodCorps Hawai`i to School and School Garden Hui. These three initiatives support assist schools and nutrition and garden programs procure food.

At public, private, and charter schools across the island –from cool, breezy South Kohala to tropical Hilo, from sunny South Kona to lush Hāmākua–over 16 acres of school learning gardens have been planted, annually yielding 30,000 pounds of food to these pupils and their school communities to savor. Deeper learning of language arts, social studies, math, fine arts, and the sciences is occurring in such lively outside classrooms.

Because it began in 2008 HISGN was supplying skilled development and networking opportunities for our learning backyard community. I recall when the network was forming: I had been still a garden coordinator at a small public school across the Hāmākua Coast. I had been given a message in the faculty office to get Nancy Redfeather, director of the Network. She contacted each the colleges around Hawai`i Island to determine which schools needed a backyard. I believe there were more than a dozen schools. The people heading those gardens were brought together to discuss forming a network. Many people weren’t conscious of additional school gardens and so were all gardening with pupils. I headed that school’s backyard plan for ten decades, offering weekly backyard classes for pupils in grades K through 9.

Finally my place at the school was removed due to budget cuts and that I began working at The Kohala Center since the HISGN program coordinator. It was a great transition which afforded me the opportunity to keep on helping the school garden movement on the island. Hawai`i Island is very large and Nancy wanted help offering aid and performing site visits. We developed workshops from learning, provided faculty garden tours for inspiration, accumulated curriculum, and identified different chances. We started sharing our resources on our site and news on the .

As our network developed, we requested the school garden community exactly what they needed. We discovered they had curriculum for connecting classwork with gardens, media opportunities, developing techniques for backyard challenges, and inspiration from school gardens.

We recently released the , created by teachers to their peers who may not be gardeners themselves although unconsciously understand the benefits of inquiry-based, place-based, project-based learning to their pupils.
By adhering to our Network’s needs we have been able to nurture and develop a movement in Hawai`i, 1 school garden at one time.

Photographs Offered with: