Growing Together

Generous donors, Youth Challenge candidates create a new garden

  • 13 September 2021
  • Author: Mark Berthold
  • Number of views: 1479
Growing Together

by Christine Hanakawa, Amjad Ahmad, and Jari Sugano

Creating a safe and supportive environment for Oʻahu youths to express their thoughts, ideas, and values is an extremely worthwhile endeavor, especially during a pandemic.

One of our goals in Hawaiʻi 4-H has been to provide a place at Urban Garden Center (UGC) for this very purpose. By way of an anonymous donation from a UGC volunteer through the UH Foundation (UHF), we were able to initiate a new rock garden to supplement the existing 4-H Children’s Garden. We also leveraged generous support from Hawaiian Cement and B&C Trucking to advance this 4-H initiative.

On a side note: CTAHR faculty, staff, and volunteers have spent much time and effort over the past year+ to refurbish and revamp UGC, which provides non-formal education to the general public via workshops, demonstrations, self/group/school tours, plant sales, public events, etc.

The new rock garden will be a waterless feature where Oʻahu youths can express their inner selves via art and agriculture. We hope UGC will attract and inspire young leaders to express themselves with visual art skills using critical and creative processing.

The generous donor granted us permission to use UHF funds for education. Therefore, we are concurrently transitioning our lower nursery into an outdoor educational area. We will use this area in lieu of our indoor classroom to offer horticulture and gardening workshops. CTAHR will adjust our pedagogy to accommodate COVID-19 precautions.

National Guard Youth Challenge

We invited a small group of cadets from the National Guard’s Youth Challenge to help us jumpstart these new changes at UGC. We pilot tested the new outdoor education areas with the young cadets. Cadets obtained training on creating virus-free banana plantlets and containerized food production, and were able to get their hands “wet” by restarting our static hydroponic lettuce beds.

New work benches were designed with UGC adult and youth clientele in mind, and painted by the cadets, 4-H youths, and family members of UGC faculty. Soon, the new outdoor educational area will allow our clientele to return to UGC and engage in hands-on educational workshops and demonstrations.

Another side note: All tissue-cultured banana plantlets currently being hardened off (transitioning from a lab to outdoor environment) at UGC have tested negative for banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) via a DNA amplification detection kit. These bananas are virus free but not resistant to BBTV. Ongoing tests are necessary to ensure they stay free of the virus.

Cadets really enjoyed being on a mission outside of their barracks and requested that we ask them to return for a subsequent visit. One cadet asked, “Ma’am, be sure to request our unit again, ok?”

For the time being, we must continue to limit visitors at UGC. Yet, we are using this downtime to re-purpose and revitalize our facilities. Luckily, with the help of the cadets and generous donor, much of the weight of these initiatives are shared and met with enthusiasm, good will, collaboration and a bill of good health.

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