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Community Gardens In Public Housing Sites

Community Gardens in Public Housing Sites

Accessible garden boxes built at HPHA site Kalanihuia in September 2023.

Nurturing Wellness and Resilience: Cultivating Local Food and Stronger Communities Together.

Supported by a grant through the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health, the Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute (HIPHI) has collaborated with the Hawaiʻi Public Housing Authority (HPHA) Public Housing Supervisor, Sol Sentous, and other dedicated partners and community members to establish resident community food gardens at two HPHA-managed public housing sites in urban Honolulu. 

The public housing program is one of the federal government’s major programs for assisting low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing. The food gardens were created specifically for these populations using a design developed by the University of Hawaiʻi Laboratory School’s Hoʻōla ʻĀina Pilipili project. Raised beds were constructed next to walkways, providing easy access for resident participants.  

These community food gardens not only provide participating residents with access to fresh and nutritious produce, they also offer opportunities for active low-impact physical movements, social interactions, skill-building, mental well-being, and community connections, or a sense of belonging. Through these efforts, our goal is to cultivate a stronger sense of community and wellness among residents and increase their access to healthy foods. Community food gardens are one simple approach to food sustainability in the islands that can be shared among other residents to reduce reliance on commercially produced and imported food.

This project has resulted in the development of a toolkit based on lessons learned from working with HPHA and residents to cultivate resident community food gardens in public housing settings. The toolkit includes tips for engaging with housing managers and residents, establishing guidelines for garden activities, and providing information on resources for building and maintaining garden beds. It also includes links to partner organizations offering resources and technical expertise.

We aim to sustain our partnerships with HPHA and other community collaborators as we continue our efforts to enhance the health and well-being of Hawaiʻi communities in the months and years ahead. 

To learn more about community garden projects and Food Systems work at HIPHI, please email

Alice Liu

Alice Liu

Food Systems Program Manager
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