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West // West Oahu Coverstory
Nicole Kato

School Garden Providing Much More Than Produce

To help out others in their community, upper elementary students of New Hope Christian School will harvest produce from the school’s garden to feed elderly in the Leeward area.

On a recent trip to NaloPonics, the children (grades K-6) learned about the benefits of an aquaponics system and how to maintain one.

“We went there to get them introduced to the idea, and that kicked off our farm,” explained director Karen Maluo. The students also learned about growing their own vegetables and started a garden at the campus.

Students from kindergarten to sixth grade handle the maintenance of the garden, and the preschoolers plant seeds and do the transplanting. Older students harvest the goods as well as cook.

As of now, the farm is home to strawberries, eggplants, green onions, Manoa lettuce, Chinese cabbage, basil, tomatoes and parsley. Sunflowers and corn soon will make an apperance.

Now it’s time for the harvest, and the students want to share the “fruits” of their labor with the elderly. The program started last Saturday and will be an ongoing process where the school will partner with New Hope Leeward to help provide vegetable coupons and vegetables to the elderly once a month at the farmer’s market. The program helps the elderly get certificates that they can use at the farmer’s market to get produce.

“In Genesis it talks about the garden, and God asks us to take care of it so it can take care of us,” Maluo said. “We wanted to make that connection with them, but also to know that we can affect people’s lives positively by the little things that we do, like raising a garden.

“We want them to get that full circle.”

In addition, their neighbors at West Loch Elderly Village will benefit from the “Sandwich Ministry” and will receive sandwiches from the school once a month using the lettuce grown in the garden.

And the students aren’t stopping there. As soon as their garden is big enough, their goal is to have sandwiches delivered to West Loch every Friday.

“I’m so proud of our kids, and I just wanted to show the community what they’re doing and how they will be impacting their own futures,” said Judy Saelua, a school employee and parent. “It’s the thing that we grew up with, I grew up with, a farm surrounding. So to have my kids see it and see that they’re helping feed people with it, I love it. It’s not something that I would have been able to do with them on my own.”

Maluo hopes that in September there will be an opportunity to teach parents how to maintain a mini garden at their homes. “This way they don’t just do it in school but also at home and can affect their families that way, too,” she said.

The students also have started cooking meals for the buffet to feed the school and church staff. And if that’s not enough for these youngsters to handle, they also are using the produce from their garden to help the church’s homeless campus by making sandwiches to feed the children there.

The school garden is just one of the things New Hope Christian School is involved in. Recently, they also started the “LET’S MOVE” program, which was founded by first lady Michelle Obama.

As a ministry of New Hope Leeward, New Hope Christian School aims to familiarize students with Jesus in a safe, instructional environment. Established in 2007, the school’s vision is to partner with families to equip them to meet challenges in the future.

For more information on the school, visit sites.google.com/site/newhopechristianschoolhawaii/ or call 678-3776 and visit newhopeleeward.org or call 678-3778 for information on the church.

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