Master gardeners provide produce for keiki

LIHUE — University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Kauai Master Gardeners, together with Malama Kauai, launched Village Harvest late last year, a new program that grows fresh produce and donates it to schools, after-school programs and the Hawaii Food Bank, while offering food training at school sites.

In just 10 weeks, over 2,900 pounds of fresh fruit were donated. The group is seeking additional fruit trees to harvest in order to donate more.

“It is a really rewarding program to be involved in,” said Megan Fox, a master gardener and secretary of their advisory board. “It’s a shame to have any wasted food on our island. This is our way of helping to build a bridge between an unexploited resource and those who can put it to good use.”

The Kauai Master Gardener Program is a volunteer program administered by CTAHR’s Cooperative Extension Service. The mission is to promote sustainable gardening practices and environmental stewardship on Kauai, through community outreach and education.

Master Gardeners must complete a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service per year. Their successful 2014 session was the largest graduating class in the program’s history on Kauai.

“We’re pleased to be able to utilize the productive fruit trees we have at the Kauai Agricultural Research Center to support health and nutrition for children in our community,” said Russell Messing, interim Kauai County administrator for CTAHR. “Giving back and contributing to community education are important parts of our mission, and we’re proud of our Master Gardeners who have stepped up to help fulfill that mission.”

Keone Kealoha and Fox, staff of Malama Kauai, led a fundraising effort for the Village Harvest project as a part of Malama Kauai’s Kauai School Garden Network. KSGN was founded in 2010 to provide funding, technical and volunteer support for school gardens and food programs. Funding for the project was provided by the HMSA Foundation.

Those wishing to have their surplus fruit harvested for the program, and schools that are interested in hosting a free food harvesting and safety workshop, should contact Fox at megan@malamakauai.org or 828-0685 ext. 12.

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