Malaai Gardens

The residents of Na Kahua Hale O Ulu Wini – Housing Project Kona wanted to develop a garden so that fruits and vegetables would more accessible and affordable. The idea evolved further into a youth-led project to build and care for a garden at the residence grounds.

We loved the concept and had to see what it was all about. Earlier this summer, Hawai‘i Island Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Coalition — a program of the Hawai‘i Public Health Institute — joined Mala’ai Culinary Garden of Waimea and the Na Kahua Hale O Ulu Wini residents for a very special day in the garden.

Malaai GardensHere is what we experienced from the perspective of one of our participants:

It was a beautiful sunny morning after an evening of rain. We were greeted with Aloha and started our morning with a Pule. The children were welcomed in to the garden and we started our journey of learning the magical things that grew in the Mala’ai.

The keiki ran through the bamboo garden fascinated by the chickens living in the back of the garden.

The students explored the plants, the solar dehydration box, and the sculptures of repurposed mechanical parts. They tasted the plants and flowers. They discovered the foods they recognized and some new ones that were introduced.

We went to work, giving back to the garden by cleaning up some of the weeds and overgrown grass intruding on the plants.

We ate a healthy lunch, incorporating tomatoes, lettuce, garden cucumbers, and fresh fruit such as grapes, watermelon and raspberries.  We drank a garden tea of Mamaki, lightly sweetened with local honey.

At the end of our visit we said our mahalos and aloha as the children got on the bus to go home.

Our day was over, but the seeds of education about planting our own garden at home (at Ulu Wini) and possibilities was just beginning.

Learn more about Mala’ai, Culinary Garden of Waimea here.