KEKAHA — There are some wonderful byproducts from this garden at Kekaha School, said Kaua‘i Realtor Roberta Charles Saturday during the Realtor Action Day service project.
“Lynn Charton, a first-grade teacher for 31 years, started and is in charge of the garden,” Charles said. “But this is an all-teacher-participation project where teachers get to bring their classes for hands-on education on growing vegetables. During this COVID-19 shutdown since March, and the summer months that followed, vegetables from this garden were harvested and used in the cafeteria for meal preparation. More than 80 bags of fresh garden vegetables were sent home with students’ families. Overall, this has made the students more aware of vegetables — not just growing, but eating as well,” Charles said.
Charles is the co-chair with Dani Dooley of the Kaua‘i group participating in the second annual RAD, a day for Realtors to gather and give back to their communities and historically underserved areas.
Kaua‘i saw eight Realtors, including “the youngest helper,” Aaliyah Agustin, gather at the raised gardens at Kekaha School to add trellises to two garden beds, redesign the chicken cages installed during last year’s RAD, and do general cleanup.
“This RAD is a state-level project,” Charles said. “Statewide, there are about 25 schools that come under the RAD. But some of the schools aren’t able to host people working because of the COVID-19 requirements. Those schools receive personal protection equipment instead. On the local level, the Kaua‘i Board of Realtors is coordinating a food drive that benefits the island’s food banks.”
Charton said when the outdoor garden project launched, there were just two boxes, unfilled, and with no irrigation.
“With the help of the Realtors and a lot of community volunteers and contributors, today we have 10 beds, all with irrigation, trellises, and the chicken cages the Realtor installed last year,” the teacher said.
“Chickens like to eat the tomatoes, so we use the cages to protect the fruit. But through experience, we need to make adjustments, so this year, in addition to the trellises being erected on two beds, they’re re-designing the cages for a better fit and better protection.”
Charton is excited about the students returning on a hybrid blended format starting in the second quarter.
“That’s just two weeks away,” she said.
“We have one week remaining in this quarter, the fall break, and the students come back. Although they’re all not here on the same day, I can’t wait to get them going on planting new crops and watch them enjoy being in the outdoors. Someone told me about the Kekaha host-benefit grants that just approved a grant that will allow us to expand the program even more.”
A spokesperson for the Hawai‘i Association of Realtors said this garden has become particularly important for increased outdoor-education opportunities during COVID-19, as well as providing fresh vegetables during a time when many families are food-stressed.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.