Teaching keiki how to grow

KILAUEA — Katie Cannon is on Kauai for a year, volunteering as a youth and food program coordinator with Malama Kauai.

Spending much of her time with her hands in the dirt, the California native recently secured a $3,500 grant for the organization’s youth garden.

The grant, which comes in the form of cash and tools, is from Fiskars Corporation, a Finland-based retail company that sells garden tools and craft supplies.

Malama Kauai, a Kilauea-based nonprofit that focuses on sustainable and local food production, was one of more than 400 applications the company received and one of the 30 community garden recipients that were selected.

“I went for the grant to finish this project for the keiki,” Cannon said.

Becca Vollmer, a representative from Fiskars, said that’s one of the reasons the garden was chosen for the grant.

“They realized the age of farmers (on Kauai) was a lot older than what it should be,” Vollmer said. “In an effort to have kids reconnect with the earth and have a passion for gardening, they will start a garden in the area where youth can get involved.”

Megan Fox, director of operations for Malama Kauai, said the plan for the youth garden is for it to a compilation of different styles of gardening. The little plot has a space for traditional Hawaiian plants, a permaculture and indigenous garden, and an up-cycled garden.

“In that garden we’re going to use recycled windows and doors, knobs, things like that to make it artsy,” Fox said.

A living lilikoi fence, with its vines wrapping around invasive strawberry guava posts, lines one side of the youth garden and the plan is to wrap the living fence around the entire plot.

“It’s going to be different demonstration gardens of different garden styles,” Fox said. “It’s a lot of reusing, too. The whole thing has been bootstrapped together.”

Fox said the garden has only cost the organization a couple hundred dollars because of donations and reusing things found on the property.

“Money’s not the only thing that runs a garden,” Fox said. “It’s a lot of work.”

Multiple groups of volunteers have already removed the 6-foot high guinea grass that was covering the plot of land and have put some elbow grease into tilling the soil.

“We’re always looking for volunteers,” Fox said.

Malama Kauai has volunteer days on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and also welcomes field trips.

Info: 828-0685 or www.malamakauai.org.

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