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Learning and growing in the Ulumau Garden at Hawaii Preparatory Academy

From left, HPA Middle School students Zoe Ganley, Zach Vermeulen, and Chris Chock feed baby vegetables probiotic compost tea. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HPA)
From left, HPA Middle School students Zoe Ganley, Zach Vermeulen, and Chris Chock feed baby vegetables probiotic compost tea. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HPA)
HPA Middle School student, Chris Chock, with his harvest of elegance greens. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HPA)
HPA Middle School student, Chris Chock, with his harvest of elegance greens. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HPA)
HPA Middle School students Zoe Ganley, Zach Vermeulen (background), and Chris Chock harvest elegance greens mix under the direction of Noah Dodd, HPA K-8 garden coordinator. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HPA)
HPA Middle School students Zoe Ganley, Zach Vermeulen (background), and Chris Chock harvest elegance greens mix under the direction of Noah Dodd, HPA K-8 garden coordinator. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HPA)

The Ulumau Garden at Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy’s Village Campus is a sustainable and amazing place to be. The garden’s name, Ulumau, means continuous growth and HPA’s garden is a growing and never-ending garden of learning.

The Ulumau Garden is run by Noah Dodd, K-8 garden coordinator, who teaches students how to live a sustainable and robust life.

“The Ulumau Garden is a place where plants continue to grow, and so do the students of HPA,” said Mr. Dodd.

In the Ulumau Garden, students have a blast while they experience the ways of planting crops without genetically modified organisms. There are no major poisons to eliminate the fruit flies and other destructive bugs, but there are minor ones, like soap and water. Students harvest many different crops, ranging from sweet sugarcane to potatoes. Several classes harvested sugarcane, and created a breathtaking juice without adding anything but lemons! Each of the seventh graders took a sugarcane sprout home to start their own garden and make their own healthy drinks.

So far, the students have harvested three types of uala, or sweet potato, which thrive in this garden—yellow, purple, and white. The smallest potato was about two inches, and not ready to eat. The largest potato was about the size of a football, but not as heavy as one. This large starch was overripe with insect holes all over it, so it could not be eaten.

Potatoes that are overripe, or too young, are used in “compost tea,” a mix of different ingredients, such as molasses, fresh compost, water, and more. Compost tea is used as an organic fertilizer, and Mr. Dodd hopes compost tea will change the world one day, since it is organic and Earth-friendly.

Ulumau Garden crops are distributed to several places around the Big Island. Lettuce, sweet potatoes, and many more delicious crops are donated to the Food Pantry in Waimea, Sodexo, which is HPA’s food service provider, and students on campus. The food distributed to the Food Pantry is then prepared to share with the community. The school’s cafeteria serves the lettuce, and sometimes the sweet potatoes are served, too. Students receive crops from Mr. Dodd and take them home to eat, just like the sugarcane. Our school’s crops go to many places!

HPA students say that the Ulumau Garden gives them a privilege to experience how to grow plants, and they enjoy being able to eat the plants they grow. Students also say they enjoy supporting the Earth and everyone else, by planting plants, and receiving vegetables as a gift from the Earth. The students enjoy learning about how each plant has a certain climate it can grow in. They also learn how the plants are affected through their genes, by people, and are turned into genetically modified organisms.

The Ulumau Garden is special to all the students, who will continue to learn and grow.