In space-cramped Honolulu, community gardens have found new popularity ― and meaning

Interest in community gardening has grown, but officials say it might take years to score a plot.
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 4:25 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 10, 2022 at 5:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - During the pandemic, people took up new hobbies or rekindled old ones.

One of them was gardening.

Now the city’s community gardens are bursting at the seams and more than 1,000 people are on the waiting list to get a plot of their own, said Honolulu Parks and Recreation spokesperson Nate Serota.

Ala Wai Community Garden, for example, isn’t accepting new applications for the rest of the year and people who do have their name in the mix are in for a two-year wait.

“I think it was a combination of things really. People were getting into do-it-yourself projects,” Serota said. “And getting at added ways of being more food secure.”

Those who have had their plot of land before the pandemic consider themselves lucky.

Javis Tran has had his plot at Ala Wai Community Garden for about three years.

Tran inherited the plot from his family and goes out there rain or shine to sow seeds and meditate.

Every day, Tran says, he tends to his garden with techniques that he learned from his father-in-law in Vietnam.

“I grow the chili pepper. I grow choy sum,” said Tran.

While inflation is driving the cost of food up, Tran says his garden isn’t expensive to keep up and that he is able to use the produce he harvests for soups and salads his family can enjoy.

Tran now shares his knowledge with his 8-year-old son every day after school, by teaching him how to have a green thumb.

To tackle the surge in community garden interest, the city is taking applications for a new position ― community gardens project manager ― who will be charged with expanding the program.

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