Want to learn how to grow kale in your backyard? There’s a 7-year-old at Kihei Elementary School who can show you how to do it.
Kale is just one of the vegetables you’ll find growing at Kihei Elementary School, which is part of Grow Some Good’s school garden program. For the past decade, the nonprofit organization has created hands-on, outdoor learning experiences designed to inspire students’ wonder and curiosity about the natural world, while connecting them to their food sources.
Ten years ago, a group of volunteers from the South Maui School Gardens Project—a program of South Maui Sustainability’s School Garden Committee—planted a trio of raised garden beds for a group of second graders at Kihei Elementary School. Eventually, the South Maui School Gardens Project was renamed Grow Some Good, and today, those three raised beds have evolved into a 10,000-square-foot school garden.
Kathy Becklin of KW Island Living was one of the volunteers who loaned her green thumb to the first school garden at Kihei Elementary School 10 years ago. When Grow Some Good became a 501(c)3 organization, she joined its board of directors and served as treasurer. Then, in December 2016, she stepped into a new role as the executive director of the organization.
Grow Some Good has certainly come a long way: There are now 10 elementary and intermediate schools island-wide under the organization’s umbrella and Becklin estimates there are 4,500 students participating in garden classroom activities throughout the academic year.
And Grow Some Good does more than plant organic gardens on school campuses. It also offers a number of resources and curriculum support through community partnerships in agriculture, science, food education and nutrition. And to say that Grow Some Good is doing some good would be an understatement. “We are making a difference in kids’ attitudes toward healthy eating,” Becklin said.
No surprises there: Research shows that kids who understand where their food comes from—and better yet, how to grow and harvest it—make smarter nutrition choices overall. Recent studies also indicate a correlation between gardening and academic achievement in science. But if you ask any of the students, it’s likely they’ll tell you the best part is watching things grow (and eating them, too).
Becklin says the organization is always looking for volunteers to lend a hand, particularly with garden maintenance, curriculum support, planning, project direction and community outreach.
You can also support Grow Some Good at its the sixth annual signature fundraiser, Taste of School Gardens, on Saturday, March 10, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Maui Tropical Plantation’s Grand View Lawn. At this garden-to-table event, guests will sample dishes prepared by local chefs who have come together to support the school gardens and inspire Maui’s future farmers, chefs, teachers and scientists.
This year’s lineup of featured chefs and restaurants includes Chef Jeff Scheer of The Mill House; Chef Paris Nabavi of Pizza Paradiso Mediterranean Grill; Chef Geno Sarmiento of Nick’s Fishmarket; Chef Craig Dryhurst of DUO; Chefs Jaron Blosser, Cody Christopher and Travis Morrin of Fork & Salad Maui; Nicol Bradley, owner of Ono Gelato Kihei; Chef John Cadman of Maui Breadfruit Company; Chef Kevin Laut of Outrigger Pizza Company; Chef Ivan Pahk of Aloha Mixed Plate; and Chef Chris Kulis of Makena Golf & Beach Club.
There will also be wine and beer selections, a silent and live auction and live music by the Deborah Vial Band. And the best part? All proceeds from the event go to support Grow Some Good’s school garden programs.
“Each year, it keeps getting bigger and better,” Becklin said. “It’s a great event for a great cause.”
Last year’s event sold out quickly, so Becklin suggests reserving your seat as soon as possible. Tickets are on sale now and “early bird” prices are available before Saturday, Feb. 10. Preferred seating tickets are $135 per person (“early bird” price: $120); “roaming” tickets are $99 per person. VIP tables of 10 can be reserved for $1,500 (“early bird” price: $1,275).
By Sarah Ruppenthal
Published in The Maui News – January 27, 2017