Growing a Community Gathering Space
The Waimanalo Research Station of the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is located in beautiful Waimanalo, an area known for productive farms and nurseries. One of our most important tasks as an extension station is community outreach. Our aquaponics experts help families to be more self-sufficient in food production. We give practical, hands-on learning to elementary and high schools, Native Hawaiian groups, and Master Gardeners. Undergrad and grad students from UH take classes here in environmental ecosystems, weed science, agronomy, and organic crop production. With us, they can get a practical slant on what they study in classrooms and labs. Last year alone we taught more than 2,500 people from keiki to kupuna at our station, and the numbers are growing every year.
The station is a great place for workshops, field days, and other educational events. We have 127 acres of land growing organic, sustainable, and regular crops from corn to papaya. We have apiaries where we study honeybee pests and help farmers get their crops pollinated. We study termites to keep them from eating people’s houses. Just recently we hosted a taro field day showcasing our collection of over 60 varieties of taro, and more than 200 people came to learn about this ancient and culturally important plant. We’ve got fields of ornamentals to bring style and color, food plants and fruit trees to nourish bodies, and cover crops to enrich the soil. They’re great for teaching students and community members and contribute to research that helps Hawai‘i’s growers.
The reason things grow so well here in Waimanalo is because we get lots of sun…and lots of rain. And right now all the classes and events we hold at our station get lots of sun and rain, too. We could really use a covered space where we can gather and learn. That’s where you come in. After our original classroom collapsed in a 2011 storm, we were fortunate to get the funding to build the base and columns of our Waimanalo Learning Pavilion (check the rendering out below!), which will be able to accommodate 100 students at a time. But the money didn’t extend to roofing. We still need to raise $30,000 to add the roof to our pavilion—because you know, the roof is really the most important part. So if you want to be part of something great, something that builds our community and helps people grow local food, we hope you’ll consider chipping in to help raise our roof. Because if you ever want to drop by the station for a class or just to see the great stuff that’s going on—and we hope you do!—you’ll want some shelter, too!
Other Ways You Can Help
- Come to one of our workshops and field days—just check the CTAHR website (http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site/) for a schedule of events. The best part is, most of them are free!
- If you’re part of a community group or need advice to start up a small farming or aquaponics venture, just ask! Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- If we’ve helped you, let us know—and tell your friends and neighbors about us, too. Facebook it, tweet it, mention it at a backyard barbecue—whatever it takes!
- Sign up for HānaiʻAi, the sustainable agriculture newsletter of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, at http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/sustainag/news/index.html