WAIMEA — “We’re going trick-or-treating as the Garden of Eden,” said Dana Hazelton of Kauai Community College, displaying the healthy heads of bok choy with Steph Moir of the Hawaii Public Health Institute during the Perspectives on Community Health field trip to the Waimea High School farm.
On a more serious note, Hazelton said she was planning on making mac nut pesto with the bag of basil she helped harvest with Bev Brody of Get Fit Kauai.
The ladies were part of the group on the field trip designed to get people out of their offices and get their fingernails dirty at locations like the Waimea High School farm.
“We do this every day,” said Pua Kaohelauli‘i, a field worker with the state Department of Health Kauai District Health Office. “We need to get out in the field to help people with the translations, so we’re in the field.”
The field trip allowed people hands-on experiences, and state Sen. Mike Gabbard was elbow-deep in harvesting aromatic arugula micro greens.
“We spend $3 billion a year on food,” Gabbard said. “The average age of farmers in Hawaii is 61 years old. I was invited to deliver comments at the Hawaii Farm Bureau convention, and this trip to Waimea is perfect.”
Nancy Kanna, one of the field trippers, said she came to see how the students work their farm.
“I have my own garden at home,” Kanna said. “It never hurts to know how other people do things. I might learn something.”
The field trip included a tour of the student-led agriculture program at Waimea High School, and included facets of management, as the group was told how they couldn’t keep up with the demand from the faculty, staff and occasional community outings.
“We can’t keep up,” said student Daylan Vidinha. “Everyone wants something. I’ve been in this program since I was a freshman. I know where everything, including all the white pipes, are.”
Field trippers were allowed hands-on experience in the planting, caring for and harvesting of products on the farm. Gabbard passed a container of scratch to Karen Kaylea Kilar, which she promptly dumped on the backs of the Rhode Island red hens who congregated at the gate of the pen.
“Agriculture is a large part of Hawaii’s economy,” said Moir. “This program is not only teaching the students farming, but also self-sustainability, how to live a healthy lifestyle and business skills.”
She said the next Perspectives on Community Health will take place in January with the Kauai Independent Food Bank.