Worldwide recognition

WAILUA — The Village Harvest gleaning program of Kauai Master Gardeners has garnered the group first place in the community service category for the International Master Gardener Search for Excellence.

And in celebration of winning the distinction, the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources’ Kauai Master Gardeners will be presenting on the program during the International Master Gardener Conference this summer.

“Upon hearing the news of this award, everyone was speechless and big-eyed; who would’ve thought our program in the middle of the Pacific would win something on an international level?” said Joshua Silva, coordinator for the CTAHR Master Gardener program.

The gleaning project began in September 2014 with a pilot program and a grant from the HMSA Foundation. That year’s Master Gardener class paired with Malama Kauai staff members and, since the program’s inception, the partnership has harvested more than 14,000 pounds of produce.

That produce has been donated to schools, after-school programs and food banks across Kauai.

“We are excited about our relationship with the Village Harvest program and look forward to receiving and distributing more healthy, island-fresh produce to our community,” said Wes Perreira, the Hawaii Food Bank Kauai Warehouse supervisor.

Now, the pilot program is expanding into a full-time, three-year program. The goal is to build a community-based gleaning network across the island. More than $40,000 has been raised, mostly coming from individual donors and charities, to fund the first year of the program.

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