Ocean-friendly garden in Kakaako seen as a greater step toward food security

Plants grow in an ocean-friendly garden in Kakaako.
Plants grow in an ocean-friendly garden in Kakaako.(Mike Davis)
Published: Jun. 20, 2019 at 1:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - There’s a little garden in Kakaako with a big mission.

Between Keawe St. and Coral St., the 10,000-plus square foot plot is aimed at preventing storm water and trash from running into the ocean.

The garden is home to a variety of edible, native and water-retentive plants, the first of which were planted in March by members and community volunteers.

The Surfrider Oahu Foundation and Permablitz Hawaii, an urban gardening cooperative, teamed up over a year ago to transform a public urban lot into an urban agricultural space called an ocean-friendly garden.

Doorae Shin, the Oahu chapter coordinator of the Surfrider Foundation, said that the main goal of the garden was to eventually help reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in the ocean.

“When you plant specific plants that are made for water retention, healthy soil will also be able to retain water," Shin said.

Storm drains placed in the middle of the garden help keep the water runoff in the soil, Shin added.

“The more water the landscape can retain, the more you can prevent storm water from running into the ocean and polluting our ocean excessively.”

Allen Fanning, a co-designer from Permablitz Hawaii, said that the water helps the edible plants grow, showcasing the “food security component of the garden.”

“We’re modeling our food forestry program because we need to look at different ways of relating with our environment. So much of our current paradigm in relating to our environment is that our landscapes are purely aesthetics and prettiness," Fanning said.

"We’re looking at function. Obtaining a yield of some form is our top priority. It can take a host of different forms- food, fiber, maybe fuel or medicine.”

Group of volunteers and members in Kakaako at the ocean-friendly garden.
Group of volunteers and members in Kakaako at the ocean-friendly garden.(Drew Wilkinson)

Drew Wilkinson, a co-designer for Permablitz Hawaii, said project coordinators are hoping the space would also be a community gathering area for community members to learn “how to grow their own food and provide resources for people.”

“We want to create a healthy environment for the community to come together, learn from each other and revitalize the land space,” Wilkinson said.

“We’re trying to improve the aina and make a difference.”

Shin said the group also plans to continue having monthly public work days, where community members can come help tend to the garden and meet other volunteers.

The next work day is June 30 from 9 a.m. to noon.

To learn more, click here.

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