LIHU‘E — The Lokahi Garden, also known as the Elsie Wilcox Elementary Hawaiian Garden, was founded in 1998 but school leaders said it was time for a new commitment to its maintenance on the grounds of Wilcox Elementary School.
The rededication held Friday was part of October Farm-to-School Month and was the result of a community alliance that was formed between students, the garden program and Malama Kaua’i. It was made possible with assistance from the State Farm Youth Advisory Grant for a new Greenhouse and the all Grade Level Garden Program.
“I like the Hawaiian Garden because it has very nice flowers and they grow things that you can eat and that keeps us alive, and I want to help the garden grow,” said Taylor Chang, student council officer, in a hand-written expression for the event.
The re-dedication ceremony began with the blowing of the conch shell by fourth grade students of Mr. Sahut and Ms. Bloemke. The teachers and students shared their thoughts on the garden project before singing the Wilcox School ‘Oli and their Alma Mater song.
The rededication was facilitated by Kumu Sabra Kauka, director of the Kupuna Programs in Kaua‘i schools, together with Kupuna Arlene Kon.
Preschoolers of Mrs. Aimee Ida and Mr. Donavan presented two different types of kalo plants. They did some planting to conclude their presentation.
Principal Terry Proctor welcomed guests and introduced dignitaries that included County Council Chair Jay Furfaro, and Council members Kipukai Kuali‘i and Nadine Nakamura. They joined the keiki in planting a Kukui tree.
Furfaro said they explained to the children that all over Polynesia the kukui tree has three purpose. The first is ornamental, the second is medicinal, and the third is for candlelight to guide the canoes in at night.
"The planting of the kukui tree was basically a way to identify for the children the value we put in the candlenut tree," Furfaro said.
Keone Kealoha offered remarks on Farm-to-School Month and introduced a team of community volunteers and Wilcox School Garden coordinator is Natalie “Hiwahiwa” Joyce-Maeda.
Student Council Advisor Jonel Elias and student council officers shared their mana‘o on the Hawaiian Garden and what they would like to see in the garden. The members included Giordyn, president; Kasy, vice president; Taylor, secretary; Dalson and Jaesha, seargents-at-arms.
“I think that we should add compost to the plants so that they can grow better!,” said Jaesha, student council officer, in another handwritten statement.
“Jaesha’s wish came true,” said Joyce-Maeda. “Two big heaps of compost were delivered for the re-dedication gathering to help the plants.”
The event concluded with an ethnobotanical ti leaf lesson, with a lesson on how to de-rib a ti leaf. The lesson that students took from the session will be used to make a Memorial Day lei next May.
After the rededication, the adults went to work on defining the perimeter of the Lokahi Garden. They placed weedcloth, filled pots and planted more plants.
The day concluded with Hula in the Garden, an after school event for parents with Kumu Vanessa Punua and her students.