Gardening at Ele`ele School

Gardening at Ele`ele School is lots of fun! Photo by Keone Kealoha


A&B, Home Depot and Kindergarteners at Ele`ele School Get the Job Done

by Colleen Carroll

What do you get when you mix a kindergarten teacher and the Home Depot Team with 25 kindergarteners, a garden bed and a lot of compost? A happy teacher, muddy and industrious kindergarteners, well-made garden boxes and kinder-“garten” success!

School gardens across the state of Hawai`i and here on Kaua`i are on the rise, growing in all shapes and sizes, from portable container gardens to a hydroponics system constructed with rain gutters, to beans in rows nearly 100 feet long. Based on its needs and interests, each school intuitively selects its garden size and theme

Two teachers at Ele`ele Elementary School, Maile Mier and Spence Irimata, dreamed of a garden rejuvenation — and acted on it, their kinder –“garten” dreams coming true. The school was the lucky recipient of a $250 grant from Alexander & Baldwin (A&B) that seeded the project. A&B’s donation was the catalyst to rejuvenate the keiki garden, with several local companies joining in to lend strong backs and hands.

On the appointed day, the Ele`ele Kindergarten teachers, the Malama Kaua`i School Garden director and 25 kindergarten students waited with anticipation for Home Depot deliverers who arrived with a truckload of supplies and enthusiastic workers. Home Depot donated three cedar beds for the garden and sent seven of their workers to not just deliver, but also to set up and put their backs to it.

Heart and Soul Organics of Moloa’a donated 4 cu. yds. of organic compost, and Lawrence Tachibana of Kaua`i Hedge & Ground Covers offered, free of charge, to pick up and deliver the gift. Allowance in the A&B funding was sufficient to provide individual kid-sized buckets, flower boxes and planters, marigolds and herbs — just the tools needed to get the garden up and growing toward a bright future.

Any school garden is only as successful as the team that supports it, and in this instance, Principal Fred Rose and head custodian Flo made sure the day ran smoothly. Parents and grandparents lent a hand, too.

Many hands made light work, thanks to all, including Ritchael Cariaga, Elmer Ventura, Koa Navarro, Summer Munos, Tristan Malama, Leila Kamakele, Tom Yamamoto, Tasha Yamamoto, and Dellick Numazawa. Councilwoman Joann Yukimura jumped in to help with the planting, and parents and grandparents were on hand for weeding, leveling and helping ensure that all the children had a great first day in the garden.

The Ele`ele Kinder-“garten” is a tribute to the aloha spirit. Seeds of plants as well as of aloha will bloom for a long time, taking root and growing with this great nurturing.

Colleen Carroll, Ed.D., is the director of the Malama Kaua`i School Garden Program. If you would like help to start or improve your school garden, email her at; or call 808-828-0685 * 13.