I have been working with a group of students at a summer arts program out of Waimea's Kahilu Theater with access to the school garden (called Mala'ai) that inspired our garden program. A few stark differences: soil! Worms! Cool mountain breezes! Drizzle-laden mist! Spectacular views of all three of our Island's mountains!
I wake in Kona and drive 45 minutes to another world. The garden students are similar to the children I work with at IPCS except that they wear sneakers instead of slippas. Waimea's student gardeners are as full of wonder and curiosity and excitement as any child given access to all the food, plants, and insects a secure and vibrant community garden offers. But picking up a shovel, digging three feet and hitting no rocks? Gardening for hours without melting? Worms the size of small snakes? Organized cupboards and sheds?
Simple treats are stunning when you come from the land of lava and part-time garden funding.
Waimea is located in the oldest region of the Big Island. The vibrant soil I feel is the result of millions of years of more earth action than in Kona. Literally, there is dirt in Waimea because Pele hasn't been around. In Kona, volcanic action is not that ancient. Our section of the 'aina hasn't evolved or eroded because, geologically speaking, Pele was just here. The garden teacher at Mala'ai is a full time, fully integrated position. She gets paid to develope their garden every day and has expanded her garden system to incorporate multitudes of community members' work and in-kind donations. I am part-time, have not developed garden outreach, and have little community resources other than the grants that fund my part-timeness.
I am thankful for the opportunity to get my hands in Waimea's Earth. The children are just as stoked but the garden itself is an unexpected taste of winter and dirt that my dry and chapped hands needed. Mala'ai is a community garden system that thrives because it is tended by many loving hands. "It takes a garden to build a community" is a Mala'ai mantra.
Thanks for continuing to inspire, Mala'ai. I can't wait for school to start.
Ms Krista says:
Everyday encounters with real garden sprites; tortuous panorama of the surf; old-growth collards; machete lessons; mantis rehab; pesto pasta. Days as a public school garden teacher on the Big Island are filled with unexpected gems of wisdom and infinite inspirations. Introducing my life as a school garden teacher...