August was a busy month at the Urban Garden Center as faculty, staff, and volunteers prepared for two site visits, first from the House Finance Committee of the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, soon followed by the office of U.S. Representative Ed Case. State lawmakers, who are assessing Capital Improvement Projects statewide, were treated to a full tour of the iconic CTAHR facility in Pearl City, Oʻahu. This included a presentation by the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) team, a CRB detection demonstration by the CRB canine program, a presentation on EFNEP/ SNAP-ED programs, and engaging with the Master Gardener Program. Committee members and their staff also conducted a walk through of the raised-bed containerized fruit tree and hydroponic demonstration area, strolled through the 4-H Children’s Garden, and viewed the historic Quonset hut from WWII. The guests heard first-hand from 4-H youth and UGC volunteers about the importance of UGC for Cooperative Extension programming.
Mitch Heidenreich, Congressman Case’s legal assistant, was provided with an in-depth update on CTAHR’s numerous statewide research and Extension projects involving invasive species eradication, suppression, and management. We also discussed CTAHR’s academic programs, increasing SNAP access, and youth development opportunities.
Development of the areas surrounding UGC has been on the rise, due to their close proximity to a planned rail stop – the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) for the Pearl Highlands Station Area. UGC’s relevance to the local community and the state was most evident, and we took full advantage of these opportunities to update policymakers about all the outstanding work being conducted by CTAHR, across the state. CTAHR is everywhere.
Did You Know?
On any given day, CTAHR faculty and staff at the 30-acre Urban Garden Center in, are researching a disease-resistant strain of crops, preparing college students for a career in tropical agriculture or environmental conservation, hosting busloads of elementary schoolkids, training local residents as Master Gardeners, donating more than 16,000 pounds of fresh fruit to the Hawai‘i Food Bank, and much more.
Prior to Covid, an estimated 6,134 people benefited from direct contact with UGC in 2019. In-person activities halted for the public in 2020, but UGC quickly pivoted to online educational programs, continuing to disseminate information and new advances to commercial and backyard growers across the Hawaiian islands.
Extension faculty, staff and volunteers also used the ‘down time’ during Covid to revitalize the UGC grounds with new gardens and enhanced exhibits. Today, as the state emerges from pandemic restrictions, this cherished neighborhood facility is ready to once again educate visitors and residents, children and adults, in agriculture, environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation strategies.