A Winning Formula

Photo: Young gardeners work in their māla (garden) at Pūnana Leo o Hilo. The school’s garden is one of 63 school gardens supported by The Kohala Center’s Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network.

It is wonderful to have The Kohala Center recognized by Hawai‘i’s business and government leadership and to have those leaders understand that we can, indeed, create greater employment and educational opportunities by caring for our environment. For example, a 2011 University of Hawai‘i study showed that for every dollar invested in research and education in The Kohala Center’s ecosystem health work at Kahalu‘u Bay, two dollars of local business activity is generated. —Matt Hamabata, Executive Director, The Kohala Center

The Kohala Center (TKC) has been selected as the 2012 winner of the Small Business Success Award in the Nonprofit Category by Hawaii Business magazine. The Kohala Center was one of six winners and 12 finalists for the magazine’s SmallBiz Success awards announced in February 2012.

“Our independent judges picked The Kohala Center because they felt it is a well-run and effective nonprofit,” said Steve Petranik, editor of Hawaii Business magazine. “We agree. Matt Hamabata and The Center are doing great work for the people of Hawai‘i Island, and some of those ideas have been adopted statewide. That’s an excellent record for such a young organization.”

“When the economic multiplier is considered, this work becomes even more significant,” explains Matt Hamabata, Executive Director of The Kohala Center. TKC operations brought more than $3,650,000 into the Hawai‘i Island economy last year alone. And of that amount, $2,115,000 are new resources that came from outside of the state of Hawai‘i.

The Kohala Center works in partnership

See or the magazine’s February issue for details on the winners and finalists.

Linking Food Self-Reliance to Community Well-Being

Photo: Recent scenes from the Hilo Farmers Market.

Expanding the production and consumption of locally grown food in Hawai‘i County could decrease hunger, increase community food security, and strengthen the island’s economy according to a recent report released by The Kohala Center. The new report identifies and addresses the health effects associated with implementing key recommendations of the 2010 Hawai‘i County Agriculture Development Plan. This health impact assessment (HIA) report was prepared in partnership with the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture and Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research Hawai‘i.

We found that increasing local food production and providing some of that food to our school lunch programs would have positive economic impacts and a number of more direct health benefits. For example, shaping children’s preferences for healthy food and making more fresh fruits and vegetables accessible to all island residents could lead to lower rates of obesity and associated chronic diseases for island residents. —Betsy Cole, Deputy Director, The Kohala Center, and a co-author of the report

The HIA report underscores the importance of greater island food self-reliance in supporting community well-being. Some key recommendations of the HIA report include:

The report cites research which links the employment that will result from expanded agricultural production on the island to better family health outcomes, and research which links expanded home garden production to increased physical activity and improved mental health.

The complete Health Impact Assessment, including an Executive Summary of key findings and recommendations, is available at The Kohala Center’s Web site at This research project was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Spawning Guide

There is widespread community consensus that we need greater enforcement of fishing regulations in Hawai‘i. Though there are rules about overfishing and depleting supplies, there is little to no capacity for enforcement on the part of government officials. One viable solution is community education and engagement so that we fish more responsibly and mālama our ocean resources to ensure that future generations will have food to sustain themselves. The Spawning Guide will help to teach West Hawai‘i communities, including our children, to become their own enforcers when taking natural resources from the sea—in order to protect our fish supply as an important source of protein for an island society. —Cindi Punihaole, Public Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, The Kohala Center

Photo: Pono Practices by Kelson “Mac” Poepoe, excerpted from the Spawning Guide for the Leeward Coast of Hawai‘i Island.

In the past, fish provided most of the protein in the Hawaiian diet. Traditional fishing practices were guided by cultural values and knowledge of natural cycles: they protected fish during peak spawning time periods and allowed fish to reproduce before they were harvested. Fish populations in the Hawaiian Islands have been steadily declining for the past 100 years. According to the Bishop Museum’s “Life History Compendium of Exploited Hawaiian Fishes” (K. Longenecker, Hawai‘i Biological Survey, July 2008), “despite the cultural and economic importance of Hawai‘i’s coral reef fisheries, life-history information for many exploited species is fragmentary or completely unknown in some cases. A detailed knowledge of life history parameters is essential to creating and evaluating fisheries management policies.”

In 2011, The Kohala Center was awarded a grant from the West Hawai‘i Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation to create a spawning guide for the leeward coast of Hawai‘i Island. Marine scientists from UH Mānoa, the State Division of Aquatic Resources, NOAA, and the University of the Azores collaborated with Hawaiian cultural experts to create the spawning guide. The guide includes moon cycles for the leeward side of Hawai‘i Island, Pono Practices (Native Hawaiian resource management practices), and detailed information for 16 species of reef and pelagic fish, including: the Hawaiian/scientific/common names for each species, legal sizes, and peak spawning months.

The Spawning Guide for the Leeward Coast of Hawai‘i Island is now available for purchase at the Kahalu‘u Bay Education Center online store, at Kahalu‘u Beach Park, at Island Naturals market, and at Jack’s Diving Locker in Kailua-Kona. The cost of the guide is $10, plus shipping and handling if purchased online. Proceeds from sales of the guide will enable TKC to expand the number of species included in the guide and to print more educational posters. Your purchase also helps to support TKC’s efforts to care for Kahalu‘u Bay, restore Kahalu‘u Beach Park, and build a sustainable, secure, and equitable local food system for Hawai‘i Island.

How Maps Work

Photo: Renee Pualani Louis with her mentor, Everett Wingert, at her UH Mānoa graduation in June 2008.

2011–2012 Mellon-Hawai‘i Postdoctoral Fellow Renee Pualani Louis earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and a doctoral degree in geography from UH Mānoa. When Louis entered the field 20 years ago, her goal was to map Hawai‘i’s ceded lands using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). She soon became enamored by the place names on the maps she was working with and changed the focus of her research to look more closely at changes in Hawaiian place names over time.

Aunty Moana Kahele motivated me to share my passion with a broader audience. The first time I got together with Aunty Moana she told me this was important work and I agreed with her. She really was not that interested in the Western cartography side of things, but listened to my explanation of how maps work then she explained to me how they were wrong and how that error affected future generations. This led me to ask if I could share these ideas with a larger audience, possibly on an international level, and she agreed. In fact, she urged me on saying this had to be corrected or they would wipe us out, meaning our cultural knowledge would no longer be validated in these mediums and our next generation would only know what they read in these official documents. —Renee Pualani Louis, Ph.D.

Louis’s book project, titled Sensuality, will attempt to make Hawaiian cartography more accessible to the layperson by interweaving personal narrative with methodology and by presenting information in a playbill format. Louis is also helping to create a Hawaiian place names Web page that will allow charter school students and community members to learn the stories behind the names of places, in which they live. She is mentored by Evert A. Wingert, Ph.D., Chair of the Geography Department at UH Mānoa.

Read “I Am Not Done Learning,” an autobiographical profile by Louis, on the Back Page.

Spring Garden Tours

Photo: Sixth graders Oberon Learned, Jevyn Reyes, Abdul Shoble, and Holden Wright prepare beds for planting in the Kona Pacific Public Charter School Garden.

Come smell the flowers, taste the produce, and hear from students at some of Hawai‘i Island’s School Learning Gardens. This spring, The Kohala Center will host several tours to showcase our school garden programs around the island. “Many of our neighbors aren’t aware of what happens at school gardens or that they even exist,” says Nancy Redfeather, Coordinator of the Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network, which now includes 60 school garden programs around the island. “These brief tours will be a way for schools to showcase their gardens and explain how important they are in teaching students how to grow nutritious food,” she says.

Hawai‘i Island’s School Learning Gardens support classroom learning in science, math, literacy, physical education, health, and cultural studies. Tour participants will visit a variety of school gardens, and each site will demonstrate its unique program through tastings, student demonstrations, and/or a guided tour hosted by the School Garden Teacher. Everyone is invited to attend any of the 15 garden tours free of charge.

The following tours will also feature a locally sourced lunch. Members of The Kohala Center’s Circle of Friends (COF) may make reservations for the lunch tours described below by visiting Free transportation and lunch will be provided for our COF members. Space permitting, others may make lunch reservations for the following tours for a fee of $15 per person; visit to make lunch reservations.

Photo: Students at Innovations Public Charter School sit between rows of corn they grew.

The itinerary for the three lunch tours is as follows:

Saturday, April 21: West Hawai‘i tours & lunch
8:30 a.m. Circle of Friends members meet at Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden
82-6188 Mamalahoa Highway, Captain Cook, near mile marker 110 (entrance is across from the Manago Hotel); transportation for our Circle of Friendswill be provided from this point to all gardens on this tour day.
9:00–10:00 a.m. Hōnaunau Elementary School
10:30-11:30 a.m. Kona Pacific Public Charter School
Noon-1:00 p.m. Hua O Ke Ao at the Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden tour
1:00-2:00 p.m. Lunch at Hua O Ke Ao at the Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden Circle of Friends members (each can bring a guest) will be treated to a free lunch featuring primarily locally grown produce prepared by a Kona-area restaurant.

Saturday, April 21: East Hawai‘i tours & lunch
8:30 a.m. Circle of Friends members meet at Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School
Hwy. 137 @ mile marker 10; transportation for our Circle of Friends will be provided from this point to all gardens on this tour day.
9:00-10:00 a.m.
Hawai‘i Academy of Arts & Science (HAAS) Public Charter School
10:30-11:30 a.m. Dragon’s Eye Learning Center
Noon-12:45 p.m. Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School tour
1:00-2:00 p.m. Lunch at Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School
Circle of Friends members (each can bring a guest) will be treated to a free lunch featuring 100% local ingredients, much of it grown in this productive student garden.

Saturday, April 28: Waimea tours & lunch
9:15 a.m. Circle of Friends members meet at Mala‘ai Culinary Garden, Waimea Middle School
67-1229 Mamalahoa Hwy. (near Thelma Parker Memorial Library), Waimea; transportation for our Circle of Friends will be provided from this point to all gardens on this tour day.
9:30-10:30 a.m. Waimea Country School tour
10:45-11:45 a.m. Mala‘ai Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School tour
Noon-1:00 p.m. Lunch at Mala‘ai Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School
Circle of Friends members (each can bring a guest) will be treated to a free, catered, locally-sourced lunch amid the bounty of Waimea. Others may join us for lunch at the cost of $15/person.

Read detailed descriptions of each of the 15 tour sites on the Back Page.

Kū ‘Āina Pā: Standing Firmly with Knowledge upon the Land

Photo: School Garden Teacher composting workshop at Mala‘ai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School.

Rudolf Steiner said in a lecture he gave in 1919, “the problem of education is actually a problem of training teachers.”

The Kohala Center has developed a new School Garden Teacher Training and Certification Course for Hawai‘i’s teachers under a USDA “Agriculture in the K–12 Classroom” grant. TKC is now recruiting 20 Hawai‘i Island teachers to join the initial cohort of trainees. Interested teachers must submit their applications by March 30, 2012. The year-long training program begins with an intensive summer session in Waimea from June 10–16.

“School gardens are not a new idea in Hawai‘i, and their renewal in these times calls upon our garden educators to strengthen their skills and educational knowledge and work with the deep connections that exist between human and ecosystem health and the community,” says Nancy Redfeather, Coordinator of the Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network and member of the Kū ‘Āina Pā teaching team. The Kū ‘Āina Pā certification course is designed to provide Pre-K-8 Educators with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully plan, develop, and sustain learning gardens at their schools.

Photo: Cleaning kalo for pounding at a workshop Ka ‘Umeke Kā‘eo Hawaiian Immersion Public Charter School in Hilo.

The course will build upon practicing and connecting the following ideas:

The Kū ‘Āina Pā teaching team includes Betsy Cole and Nancy Redfeather from TKC; Amanda Rieux from Mala‘ai: The Culinary Garden at Waimea Middle School; and Koh Ming Wei, Sustainability/Environmental Curriculum Facilitator at Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy.

“Our teachers are often not supported as they seek to cultivate individuality and creativity in each of their students,” explains Koh Ming Wei. “Every child is unique, and every school learning garden is unique. A teacher training program centered around school learning gardens can be a wonderful, dynamic, and scientific way to engage students and contribute to a renewal of agricultural education in Hawai‘i,” she says.

Visit for more information about Kū ‘Āina Pā.

A New Generation of Seed Savers

Photo: Jill Richardson of Regenerations Garden on Kaua‘i demonstrating how to save seed from various vegetables.

Over the past generation, land grant universities have discontinued plant and seed breeding of varieties for farmers and gardeners. In the future, however, food self-reliance in a community will depend on this type of seed. Teaching the next generation the unique skills of growing, selecting, and saving seed varieties of locally appropriate crops must be a priority. The Kohala Center is offering five student scholarships as an incentive for young gardeners to take the next step and become participants in the plant breeding process. —Nancy Redfeather, Coordinator, Hawai‘i State Public Seed Initiative

The Kohala Center is offering a Seed Basics Workshops for Farmers and Gardeners on O‘ahu at the Lyons Arboretum on Saturday, March 24, and Sunday, March 25, with an optional farm tour on Monday, March 26. The cost of the workshop is $50 for both days, including lunch, and the registration deadline is March 19. Five youth scholarships will be offered to K–12 and college students who are interested in agriculture.

This two-day workshop is designed to create a practical working knowledge of seed growing, botany and biology, plant selection, seed harvesting, cleaning, and saving. The O‘ahu workshop will include both lecture presentations and hands-on fieldwork, with a focus on growing lettuce and tomato to seed as well as taro propagation. Participants will practice harvesting and cleaning seed and will learn how to select and store fresh seed. Practical strategies to account for differences in elevation, weather patterns, and rainfall will also be discussed.

Photo: Nancy Redfeather and Jim Brewbaker at Hawai‘i Foundation Seeds at the CTAHR Farm in Waimanalo, Hawai‘i, site of the optional farm tour on March 26.

O‘ahu presenters include:

The first Seed Basics Workshop was held on Kaua‘i in November 2011. This successful event drew 40 farmers, gardeners, and interested seed savers. Visit to view photos of the event and access the workshop presentations; visit to read participant blog entries. For more information about the O‘ahu workshop, and for registration and scholarship forms, please visit

Read more about the March 26 tour of CTAHR’s Waimanalo Experiment Station with Dr. James Brewbaker on the Back Page.

UCSD Summer Scholarship Programs

Photo: Giving back to the ‘āina. 2011 UCSD students participated in service work at Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest planting seeds of endangered native plants.

The Kohala Center invites Hawai‘i Island high school students to apply for scholarships to the following residential engineering and environmental science programs being offered in partnership with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

University of California, San Diego Academic Connections in Hawai‘i
August 6-13, 2012

University of California, San Diego Academic Connections in San Diego
July 8-28, 2012

Learn more about the “UCSD Academic Connections / The Kohala Center Partnership” on the Back Page.

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