Preschoolers visit Kukuiula’s farm

  • John Steinhorst / The Garden Island

    Anaya Stillwell, Shanti Manzano and her son Makai Herrera, Jasielle Burris and teacher Siobhan Thielen of The Koloa Early School, from left, harvest greens from one of the beds at the Upcountry Farm at Kukuiula.

KOLOA — Kids love playing with dirt. On Friday, preschoolers from Koloa Early School got the opportunity to do that while learning about sustainable farming at The Upcountry Farm at Kukuiula.

“It’s a chance for the kids to learn where their food comes from by planting seeds and harvesting plants,” said Principal Ronalee Eckberg.

More than 40 keiki, joined by teachers and parents, ventured on the excursion to learn how to germinate seeds, plant seedlings and harvest crops.

“What a unique opportunity for the young children of the island to see plant life cycles in action, from seed to sprout to flower to fruit,” said teacher Siobhan Thielen. “This complements what we have been learning about in our school, using our five senses.”

The hands-on lessons taught the kids by allowing them to dig in the raised garden beds, drop lettuce seeds, plant broccoli raab seedlings, pick baby beets and harvest mature dill.

“The kids are really enjoying this,” said Pam Frost, whose granddaughter Francesca Slalamey was celebrating her 4th birthday at the organic farm. “It’s important for kids to know where food comes from.”

Parents also benefited by better understanding the process involved from starting seeds at the Upcountry Farm to eating meals prepared from the harvest at The Club at Kukuiula.

“It’s good for us to see this too, to see the whole cycle from seed to plant to the restaurant even,” said parent Adam Serra. “The fact that they’re doing this sustainably is really awesome. For the kids to learn how to plant things and get their hands dirty is good for the future.”

The preschoolers were guided around the property pointing out breadfruit and banana trees, as well as exploring the one-acre vegetable farm, with large labels identifying the vegetables and herbs.

When asked what his favorite part of the field trip was, 4-year-old Kron Sakimae first said it was the bus ride, but he also liked the smell of the fresh dill and was excited to eat it.

“It’s all about sustainability and knowing the whole farm-to-table process being able to have this farm a half-mile from the kitchen,” said Kukuiula farmer Josh McDonald. “It’s special, we know what we’re planting, we know what we’re growing, and we know exactly where it’s coming from. And the chef does too.”

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