So, we have come to the end of our 2015-2016 school year and are well into summer! But the work and planning for next year is already under way.
Gratitude goes out to the Augustine Foundation who granted us funds to build up our cooking supplies and appliances for cooking opportunities in the classrooms and outside. We also have the infrastructure in place to compost nearly all the food waste and a good portion of the paper waste coming from our classes and lunch room, thanks to them. In addition, we had funds to take a couple field trips! We are so grateful to them for helping us provide hands-on learning as well as the potential expand the learning into the next year. We hope to report to them on our progress as the years go by. They have been a huge part of our building process.
We also had a grant from the Kokua Hawaii Foundation. We applied for this late in the year and have used the funds to create a better storage situation, to gather materials like composting ingredients, art supplies, and tools for anticipated work coming up in July for a big garden re-dedication in the Fall. The dedication will hopefully start us off in the right direction for the next leg of our journey. I am excited to share that journey with our friends at Sacred Hearts community: students, staff, parents and parish.
We are planning to convert our back garden into a Peace Garden. We are only in the beginning stages of this thinking, but we have shovels in the ground and plans for planting natives and canoe plants in this space. Here is my thinking on how this change in purpose will compliment what we have done so far:
I could go on and on. Where do we start? First, I have enlisted help from a wonderful member of our community: Duane Sparkman. He is a part of the Maui Cultural Lands organization. He has come to see our location, listened to our ideas, and will be helping to prep our area for the new plants! He has narrowed it down to two dates in July. We are discussing the finalized date and sorting out the details. As soon as I know, you will know.
Next, we are looking for volunteers to help bring gardening curriculum into our classrooms. We have a wonderful program created and provided by the Kokua Hawaii Foundation called "Aina in the Schools" We have the full curriculum ready to take into the classrooms. What we need are Docents to help teach it. You do not need garden experience, everything you need to know is outlined and training will be provided. Here is a link to the valuable program overview:
I am also forming a committee to help plan the Peace Garden process. This process outlined at Hawaii School Peace Gardens. Here is a link to the website: www.ihtec.org/ISPGPages/ISPGHawaii.html
To foster a thoughtful process for developing our SHS St. Francis Peace Garden, we will need input from everyone. We are shooting for an August or September dedication ceremony.
If you are interested in any part of the garden... monthly work parties, peace garden committee, Classroom Garden Docents or even donation of materials or supplies you can contact me. Nicole Okada 360-402-0291.
"We have planted beans, beets, onions and a pineapple. We got a lot of work done."- Jackie B
"Our garden has improved a lot since a few months ago." -Margaret
"We have papaya trees!" - Caden
"Our garden is tumblry"(referring to social media: Tumblr)- Ben
"Our garden is full of life!" -Alexis N
About 8 students from 6th grade are planning on attending our St. Francis Garden Work Party on Sunday, November 15th from 9am-1pm. Please come join us! We could use trucks to haul lots of debris.
We had our first garden clean up this last weekend (Sunday). There was a lot to do as over the summer the garden was watered, but not weeded! (EEK!). But with some elbow grease and sweat, we got a HUGE chunk of the work completed. Everlasting thanks to the volunteers that came out and busted tush! We had myself and our fearless leader, Susan Hendricks (who came out to work in a dress after the pancake breakfast! WOW! That is dedication.) We had one of our wonderful 8th grade students, Ken Alba (who has been to just about every weekend work party. Also dedicated!). Henrique Fontes also came after he worked helping Hopsing at the pancake breakfast (He said he would stay for a half an hour...but he helped for a couple hours and so much heavy lifting!) And our resident farmers and awesome volunteers: Gilberto Sanchez and Yorlanis Udave who came to tame the guinea grass and vines, moved soil, and trimmed up raised beds. They also gave us so many great ideas, inspiration and future offers of help. All of these folks did so much to get us going the right direction. Thanks to them all.
We have a little more to do to prepare for seeds and starts. Our teachers have signed up to help make up cool signs and do some projects. We have students who have worked hard moving the pile of compost/soil to areas around the garden and raised beds. (not much more to go!) The watering system needs to be reinstalled and as the year rolls on we will be upgrading that to a drip system. YEAH!
Tasks: Continue to weed the beds, Continue to tidy up where the guinea grass has been cut, (guinea grass is an ongoing task)
Next Projects: we are looking to terrace two of the beds to help level out the surface. If anyone has some cinder blocks laying around, we can use some to complete the task. We have construction folks giving us wood scraps to build with (untreated wood, of course). But the blocks would be a more permanent solution. Either with wood or with stone, we are working on it.
The next work party will be on September 27th from 2pm to 5pm. (I will be there most of the day...so if you'd like to join me earlier, you can give me a call to confirm I am working earlier: Nicole Okada: 360-402-0291) We will have some snacks and water to refill bottles. Please bring a water bottle. We are trying to keep it green by using less throw away containers.
The school year is firmly underway and the gardens are in need of some help to get them up and rolling. We have plenty of soil to refill the raised beds and do any filling in the main garden beds. But we do have a lot of weeds from our summer away. We have secured a better place to store our tools...the pink shed near the labyrinth. We had hoped to move it into the garden directly, but it has proved too heavy. If anyone needs access to the tools that will be stored in there, Nicole Okada (ELC Teacher...Me! :-) has the key. (more keys will be made available to others as needed.)
Our first order of business is to get the beds filled and distribute that soil/compost. Signs have been put up around the garden to direct that effort. Just look around and you will see how you can help get it done.
After the soil is distributed...there are starts and seeds to put in and we are on our way!! Some of the teachers are excited about getting out to the garden and some are still needing some support to know what to do. We will be providing options for everyone to assist. A project list for classes is in the office. And we are always interested in inspired ideas for beds! Ms. Molina, our new 7th grade teacher, wants to do a pizza garden! That is definitely going to happen!!
Work Parties: we have two coming up in the month of September. I coach soccer on Saturdays, so it is hard for me to come in to supervise work efforts on Saturdays. If anyone would like to help supervise a Saturday work party, please let me know. Sunday is the best time for my schedule. I made one work party early in the day and the other one later in the afternoon. I know many are in prayers or services, but hopefully one of these times will work. Sunday, September 13th. 9am to 2pm. And Sunday, September 27th from 2pm-5:30pm Please feel free to come and go as you are able. Even an hour of your time is appreciated. And it counts as hearts hours!
Let the polishing of our garden begin! It will clean up quickly and I am stoked to have it in a place that we spruce up and run! Lets get in the dirt!
With love...Nicole Okada AKA "Ms. 'Cole"