Our community-initiated and supported Mala’ai school garden – now in its 7th year – grows more beautiful and meaningful each day. Our 3/4 acre organic garden is cradled between Mauna Kea and the Pu‘u of Waimea and carved from former Parker Ranch pasture land. More than 2,000 students, teachers, staff, family members and community friends have helped create this hands-on partnership. In our garden we support student learning by integrating core curriculum – math, science, language arts, social studies and health – as well as cultural learning and healthy life skills into our student’s academic schedule. Pa’ahana (hard industrious work) and Ma ka hana ka ike (by doing one learns) are two of our guiding principals in garden class.
Volunteers assist with classes in the garden and help with many ongoing garden projects. They greatly enrich the experience of students, and are an integral part of the adult community in the garden.
We ask that everyone who comes to the garden, students and adults alike, agrees to be guided by the following ideals when they are in the garden.
- Be Safe
- Be Kind And Respectful
- Have An Open Mind
- Use My Time Well
- Be My Best Self in the Garden.
A DAY IN THE GARDEN:
(We adapt to the time constraints, student needs, the weather and each other.)
Two Minutes of Slience: Students arrive and put backpacks in cubbies and find a spot for “Two Minutes to Yourself”.
Opening Circle: After the two minutes of silence students and teachers meet for opening circle. Students are asked to share observations. The Garden Teacher then explains the reflection, or topic for final circle, and lets the students know what the Garden Jobs are for the day. (For example: turning compost, digging a new bed, fence building, sowing seeds, drawing a map, clearing a new area, moving mulch, harvesting and weighing produce)
Break Into Work Groups: Once they have heard all of the jobs for the day students are asked to choose groups or are assigned work groups. Ideally each work group has one adult to work with. The teacher also works with one group.
Get Tools and Get to Work: Each group goes to the tool shed and retrieves their tools and gets to work.
Clean Up: 20 minutes before the class is over the students clean up, put their tools away and meet for Final Circle.
Final Circle: Students talk about their experience in the garden and all students share a reflection or answer the question of the day. If we are eating a snack from the garden during class, everyone tries it during final circle.
Sample Garden Activities – bed digging and prepping, transplanting, sheet mulching, sow clover, collect sunflower seeds, sun hemp, broom corn, winter wheat, turn and build compost, seed saving, Chanting Hiki Mai (a Hawaiian sun chant), plant Kalo (taro), harvesting, weighing and recording harvest, preparing, serving and eating salad, mapping the garden, caring for our flock of chickens.
Some Examples of Curricular tie-ins:
When 6th Graders are studying ancient civilizations, including the Mesopotamians, they are also planting wheat and discussing irrigation in garden class. There are discussions of agriculture and the rise of civilizations.
6th Grade math class mapped the garden practicing measuring skills, calculating averages and learning appropriate use of technology.
7th Grade classes focused on SUSTAINABILITY. Their classes integrated the work done in the garden fully into their curriculum. As part of the school’s ‘Ike Hawai’i (Hawaiian knowledge) program, their classes have learned a sun chant and a permission chant, and each class shared the chants to be granted entrance to the garden.
Health classes do a greens tastings based on health and sustainability. They compare local organic greens with Costco’s organic greens. They compare taste, as well as exploring environmental, social, economic implications of eating local food.
Other Mala’ai activities have included:
Natural dying workshops, tree plantings, maintaining the garden journals, weighing and recording all items harvested, popping of popcorn identifying (and eating!) a change in volume, learning about and carving Ni’ihau style ipu, making kapa cloth
Some produce we are growing in the garden:
Artichoke, Akulikuli, Amaranth, Avacado, Borage, Broomcorn, Comfrey, Dill, Eggplant, Fig, Gauva, Hibiscus, Ipu(gourd), Jacaranda, Kabocha, Kikuyu grass, Kukui, Loquat, Mulberry, Meyer Lemon, New Zealand Spinach, Olena (turmeric), Persimmon, Poha, Quinoa, Rue, Santolina, Taro, Tapioca, Uala (sweet potato),Verbena, Wheat,Yacon, Zinnia, Zucchini, Lemongrass, Dryland Taro, Sweet Potato, Sunflowers, Lettuce, Osaka Mustard, Green Onions, Garlic Chives, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Russian Kale, Italian Lettuce-leaf Basil, Thai Basil, Turmeric, Parsley, Spinach, Amaranth, Quinoa, Winter Wheat, Broom Corn, Clover, Bamboo, Koa Trees, Hibiscus, Ohi’a Trees, Sandalwood Trees, Poha, Yacon, Kabocha, Cassava, White Popcorn.