Why, assuming it’s not an agricultural college, should a school have a garden? Especially an elementary school, where young people have enough to do just taking in the the Rs without adding radishes and rutabega?
Because, says Dabney Gough, Whole Foods Market Kailua marketing supervisor, “it’s so important that we all, but especially our keiki, know where our food comes from in order to really appreciate the work that goes into getting it to our plates, and also to better understand nutrition, what good, fresh, wholesome food does for us.”
That’s why the Whole Kids Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Whole Foods Market, annually gives funds to school gardening projects and why, this year for the first time, six Hawai’i schools will get grants of $2,000 each to expand upon or create school gardens.
The schools are Ke Kula ‘O Samuel M. Kamakau (Kane’ohe), Kainalu Elementary (Kailua), Makaha Elementary, Waikiki Elementary, all on O’ahu; and Kihei Elementary and Kihei Charter School on Maui.
The awards come with gardening information (both in book and digital form), seed packages from High Mowing Organics, discounts on gardening supplies and mentoring from gardening experts.
The Foundation also assists schools to install salad bars in their cafeteria operations and offers aid to teachers through classes and other resources.
Gough said she enjoys giving small-group store tours to schoolchildren and has been pleasantly surprised at how interested they are in the connection between farm and table. Sometimes, she even learns a thing or two: A while back, she said, one student taught her how to say sugar cane (ko) and coconut (niu) in Hawaiian.