If you were wondering if gardens still grow with silver bells and cockle shells, then the Kihei Community Association's (KCA) meeting on Tuesday, March 20, at the Kihei Charter Middle School on Lipoa Street was the place to answer all your questions.
The focus of the meeting was a presentation by members of the Grow Some Good community organization--formerly called the South Maui School Gardens Project--on numerous ways to grow fresh, nutritious food in various types of gardens in Kihei.
The group started about four years ago to help with a Kihei Elementary School science project. From its beginning with just three vegetable beds, the effort grew to involve 650 children.
Over 75 people turned out for the Kihei Community Association meeting last Tuesday, and welcomed the opportunity to pick up free vegetable and herb plants for their gardens after the meeting ended.
In a short film at the beginning of their presentation, the group explained the philosophy behind their initial school gardening efforts.
"If students plant a seed and grow it, they will at least try it and eat it," said Nio Kinda, a member of the gardening project.
"We are really acting to tie in nutrition classes and health classes, and what they eat in the cafeteria. Food should be taught all day," Kinda said in the film.
Kirk Surry, the Grow some Good coordinator, explained, "We are inspiring people to start school gardens and back yard gardens and to take back control of their food supply."
The group has expanded beyond Kihei schools, advising the community about how to achieve home gardens and community gardens as well, and going island-wide.
More than 75 people came to the KCA meeting to learn about the work of Grow Some Good, sample nutritious locally grown produce, become informed about what kind of gardening can done where they live and how to become involved in expanding gardens in Kihei.
Among the various types of gardens discussed were raised bed gardens using wood frames or stones; container gardening, which is excellent for tables or in narrow spaces; vertical gardening hanging from walls using everything from old shoes to large plastic soda bottles; and rooftop gardening in a self-contained waterproof frame.
Other informative topics included what would grow best in Kihei (a desert), soil health, irrigation techniques, organic pest control, sustainable gardening and home remedies for gardening problems.
Kathy Becklin and Kerry Wilkins, along with Surry and Kinda, shared gardening tips and recipes, discussed the outlook for regional school and community gardens, discussed how to start a nonprofit group to fund community projects and the innovative concept of "guerilla gardening."
Guerilla gardening takes place when a garden is planted on vacant land without asking the owner's permission. Since absentee landlords own much vacant land, gardens can often flourish without being disturbed, beautifying the neighborhood and providing healthy food at the same time.
As every amateur gardener knows, there comes a time when a question arises, "What was I thinking?" Avoid that feeling of being overwhelmed by Mother Nature by staying connected and inspired by the gardening movement.
One way is to become a member of Grow Some Good. Another is to volunteer one day a week in a school garden project. Pass on your vegetables and produce to neighbors and create an informal backyard garden produce exchange.
Along the way you may have the experience that one parent shared at the meeting. He was making a smoothie as part of his family's morning meal, when his son stopped him and asked if it would be OK to add kale to the smoothie.
That's a lot better than Coco Puffs and a giant step toward ending the childhood obesity and early onset childhood diabetes epidemic.
For more information go to GrowSomeGood.org.