Waimea Middle School garden featured in national broadcast

  • Mala‘ai, The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School, will be featured in a coast-to-coast virtual tour of school gardens from Hawaii Island to Washington D.C. Mala‘ai is one of only six school gardens across the country selected to present an online video lesson during the tour.

  • Jerneed Kauahi talks about the Mala‘ai Garden at Waimea Middle School. Special to West Hawaii Today

  • Amanda Rieux, left and Danica Valera check on plants at the Mala‘ai garden at Waimea Middle School. (Courtesy photos/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Waimea Middle School students make ti leaf lei. Special to West Hawaii Today

  • Kilo Wong displays produce from the Mala‘ai garden at Waimea Middle School. (Courtesy photos/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Mala‘ai, the Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School, will be featured in a coast-to-coast virtual tour of school gardens from Hawaii Island to Washington D.C. on Tuesday.

Mala‘ai is one of only six school gardens across the country selected to present an online video lesson during the tour.

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The premier event, “Growing School Gardens: Seeding a Healthy Future for Our Youth,” is a celebration of National Garden Month. So far, 500 different schools have signed up to participate by viewing the 45-minute broadcast (which can be accessed afterward as separate lesson videos, each lasting about up to 5 minutes).

Hosted by the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, with support from the School Garden Support Organization Network, the tour will highlight ways school gardens advance nutrition and environmental literacy, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, and social-emotional wellness.

School classes, educators, at-home learners, families, and gardeners of all ages are invited to register for the program at www.growingschoolgardens.org; it will also be available online afterward.

For Mala‘ai, the afterschool class will present “‘E Kilo ‘Oe — Observe Nature with All Your Senses.” In it, students share the meaning of oli, traditional chants, and how growing staple crops like kalo teach about important cultural connections between plants, people, food and the land. Students in Mala‘ai harvest, cook and explain the Hawaiian practice of kilo, keen observation.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our garden and the larger movement in Hawaii. We are honored to represent this work and proud of our students’ ability to share its value. What we’ve accomplished over the last 16 years with students, teachers and the community has truly been the work of many hands,” said Zoe Kosmas, Interim Executive Director of Mala‘ai. “Hawaii’s living culture and deep roots create a meaningful context for ‘aina-based education, which values the overall well-being of our children, and this is essential for post-COVID education. We’re excited to be part of this celebration of school gardens told by students, for students.”

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Founded in 2005, Mala‘ai is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that cultivates connections between people, land, culture and food in school gardens. Its two responsibilities are to operate the 1-acre Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School, and lead the Hawaii Island School Garden Network, which supports teachers and educators islandwide, encouraging use of outdoor education and school gardens as pathways to integrated learning.

For more information, visit www.malaai.org.

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