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Mala'ai School Garden

The Great Pumpkin Harvest & Garden
Waimea Middle School students harvesting kabocha pumpkins from the Mala'ai Garden

Waimea Middle School students proudly show off a few of more than 2,200 pounds of Kabocha – also known as Japanese pumpkins – that they have harvested since the start of this school year from the Mala'ai school garden. Growing and harvesting delicious fresh produce is really just the first step. This school year, with Mala'ai garden classes integrated into Physical Education and Health Classes, students are learning how to prepare and enjoy eating the produce they have grown.

Over the past several weeks, students have learned to make Kabocha Croquettes, which are similar to poi balls but use grated pumpkin instead of taro. After tasting samples of various pumpkin dishes, students have been encouraged to take pumpkins home on one condition – that their family eats them. Recipes for soup, bread, pie and croquettes are being provided by Mala'ai Garden Teacher Amanda Rieux.

Students will next be harvesting taro they have cultivated with the help of Hawaiian cultural practitioner Lanakila Manguail. Lanakila shares the traditional mo'olelo (story) of Haloa and the connection of Hawaiians to this food staple and to the earth and all living things. Students also learn how to prepare and serve kalo, make poi and how to prepare the huli for the next round of planting.

Waimea Middle School's ¾-acre organic Mala'ai garden is a private 501c3 not-for-profit funded by community generosity. In keeping with the holiday spirit of giving thanks, two community friends have created a "Challenge Grant" and school families and garden friends are being asked to help match a $5,000 gift to keep the garden growing. Many kinds of help are needed in addition to tax deductible donations including volunteers to work with students during garden classes, and contributions of seeds, plant starts, compost and organic fertilizers.

For more information about the Mala'ai school garden,  call Matilda Tompson (885-9206) or visit Mala'ai website

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