Grow Some Good {2019 Impact}

Chef Paris 2019 Report - Google Docs_Page_6.jpg

Make Garden Classrooms more effective

When we started last year, we thought most of the funds would be used for one or more shade structures which would have been enjoyed by about 200 students. Although shade cloths were installed at Wailuku El (see photo below), there was one BIG item identified by coordinators as the item needed most for engagement of students . The item identified is one that very few grants will cover. It is additional food items and serving supplies to serve snacks in the garden. While our recipes always make use of items grown in the garden, they also require additional materials and/or in some case supplemental materials to have enough snacks to serve to all the classes. The students get more out their garden time when they make that connection between what they grow and what they prepare and eat. Although we haven’t formally started tracking this, quick estimates show that over 10,000 snacks were served for the small cost of $1,144.

One of the other items identified is making our workdays more effective. 10 new fence banners were ordered so that they can be put out prior to each workday. Also included in this are additional food supplies (healthy snacks) for volunteers. Cost: $675

We did install the shade cloth at Wailuku Elementary Schools. The shade cloth turned out to be a much bigger endeavor than we expected and took several attempts to get proper coverage. However, it now is a great classroom and nursery space. Cost: $476

Improve the productivity of school gardens

When we asked how to improve productivity of the gardens, there was one primary answer that came from the coordinators and it was irrigation. We started the year with a 3-hour hands-on course in irrigation including understanding of the names, types and purpose of irrigation. The course showed how to identify issues and perform quick fixes. It connected the coordinators with our irrigation specialist, Derrick Salomon who has volunteered much of his time to support school gardens. The course was very well received by all who attended. We estimated how much time coordinators (and students) spend hand-watering (5-15% of time!) so improving irrigation helps save thousands of dollars. However, without the training, coordinators were not equipped to diagnose problems or make simple fixes. We evaluated the different issues and found that the biggest issue is that we used hose-end timers in many of our gardens. They have an array of problems including short life, vandalism, accidental shut off and constant battery replacements; they just aren’t designed for our harsh sun environments. The couple schools where we had upgraded systems (buried valves with either electrical clock or node timers) were much more consistent and reliable. We have upgraded irrigation systems at several of the schools as well as doing some emergency repairs. Two schools still need upgrades even though we have purchased some of the equipment (Wailuku and Pu’uKukui). No matter how well we design and upgrade our systems, irrigation will continue to be a challenge.

In general, coordinators identified a need for planting materials and amendments. Although much of what we provided was either donated or included as part of other grants, your resources did provide additional needs. Planting material includes seeds, soil, starts and amendments. We built 2 new beds at Kamali’i, did bulk buys of student tools, copper tape (slug control) and more.

Next Year’s Request and Focus Areas

While we are still going through adaptations associated with merger of our organizations, we are requesting that funds be allocated for snack supplies and irrigation upgrades. We want to start tracking how many snacks are being served and frequency as well as making sure we make recipes easily available. There is much improvement needed with irrigation, especially as we look to higher production at some of our schools with a goal to start putting Farm-to-Cafeteria protocols being developed by the Hawai’i Farm to School Hui in place at a few schools in the next 3 years. Although that is a decision made by school administration and cafeteria managers, we can certainly improve our production and safe food-handling practices.

Cleaning and prep
Chef Nabavi