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Food Garden Box Installed at Lahainaluna High School: Cultivating Food Self-Sufficiency

“Partnerships are what foster community food resilience. When organizations, individuals, and communities come together, they create a powerful network that strengthens local food systems and ensures sustainable access to nourishing food.” – Hui Māla‘ai. 

On February 23, 2024, a number of local partners, passionate community-based organizations, teachers, and students came together to celebrate the installation of two new garden boxes at Lahainaluna High School (LHS) to support LHS’s Agriculture Learning Center and their Future Farmers of America Chapter. Everyone in attendance was welcomed by a blessing by Kumu Pualeilani Kamahoahoa and then honored by a short presentation of the young men of the Royal Hawaiian Guard. Partners, faculty, and students were thrilled and extremely thankful to receive the food garden boxes donated by Hui Māla‘ai (Hawai‘i Food Garden Hui). Each garden box measures 4 feet x 4 feet and is fully installed with irrigation and aeration systems, seedlings, and nutrient-rich soil that is free of added chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. These boxes will not only provide nourishment but are anticipated to serve as living classrooms, fostering continued learning around sustainable agriculture.

Hui Māla‘ai is a small but mighty group of passionate individuals who began simply by wanting to build awareness of and better support community-based efforts for food self-sufficiency. Members came together to support food gardens in local communities and promote opportunities to engage people to be curious about growing food and connecting it to meaningful salutations to real worldwide problems. Hui Māla‘ai selected LHS in an effort to support community rebuilding efforts post-Lahaina wildfires, uplift spirits, and exemplify that we are resilient people who can be even stronger through simple partnership.

Hui Māla‘ai was formed by a group of non-profit organizations and private sectors, all united by a common purpose. Hawai‘i Public Health Institute (HIPHI) serves as the host organization, working in partnership with several influential entities: City and County of Honolulu Office of Climate Change and Resilience; City and County of Honolulu Parks and Recreations Department; Na Mea Ike Ia; Filipino Community Center; Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA); Philippines General Consul of Honolulu; Blue Zones; Knights of Rizal Maysa Ohana Chapter, and many other dedicated individuals within the community. 

“What better way to teach food self-sufficiency and community food resilience than to teach people how to grow their own food.” – Dr. Susan Mercado, co-founder of Hui Māla‘ai. 

The food garden group initially created its flagship garden at the headquarters of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement in Kapolei, O‘ahu. From there, they created a food garden at the Philippine Consulate of Honolulu, supported food garden boxes at Waipahu High School, and have now donated two food garden boxes to LHS. The effort aims to empower students, foster community connections, and promote sustainable food practices. Partners believe that promoting gardening and growing your own food is more than just getting your hands dirty with soil and seeds; it represents a commitment to food self-sufficiency and resilience. The boxes are intended to support all students of LHS. 

Hui Māla‘ai’s doors are wide open to organizations, networks, and communities. Whether you’re an established non-profit or a passionate individual, there’s a place for everyone in this movement toward food sovereignty. Hui Māla‘ai hopes to collaborate with other schools, organizations, and community members. 

Contact for more information: 

Roella Foronda, MPH

Roella Foronda, MPH

Programs Director
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