A healthy and sustainable project spearheaded by TPSS’s Ted Radovich and Ilima Ho-Lastimosa, as well as Public Health Studies professor Jane Chung-Do, got props from Civil Beat in a recent laudatory article.
The MALAMA (Mini Ahupua‘a for Lifestyle and Mea‘ai through Aquaponics) project helps Native Hawaiian families and communities to create aquaponic systems in their back yards. These can be seen as mini ahupua‘a, since they combine fish and plants in an easy-to-manage and sustainable tank system, re-creating the mauka-to-makai traditions of Hawaiian food and culture. Foods that can be grown through aquaponics include tilapia, onions, Chinese parsley, kalo, and Hawaiian healing herbs, or la‘au lapa‘au.
The co-PIs received a 3-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to improve the health of Native Hawaiian communities, since obesity and cardiovascular problems are prominent in this population. The MALAMA Project has set up over 100 aquaponics systems over the last year, offering alternative and healthier food choices.
And the systems are working! Recent research shows families have increased their vegetable and fish intake by one cup per day. Further studies will look at users’ blood pressure, BMI, and other health-related statistics. Besides helping them to get healthier, the systems encourage families to come together and become more in tune with traditional systems, as well as increasing food self-sufficiency.