Last month Kohala High School (KHS) students from the Natural Resource classes gathered on a beautiful and sunny day to plant 50 fruit trees in their school orchard. This event was made possible in thanks to the generous donation from The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF), a partnership formed through the Hawaii Institute of Pacific Agriculture (HIP Ag). The crew of 32 students planted all 50 trees over four hours with help from KHS administrators, Principal Janette Snelling and Vice Principal Trisha Burns, HIP Ag staff, community volunteers, and state legislators such as Lt. Governor Doug Chin, Senator Lorraine Inouye, and Councilman Tim Richards. KHS was the last of six schools to receive a tree donation on the Big Island for 2018. Founder and "Tree-EO" of FTPF Cem Akin shared, “Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to plant fruit trees. They thrive and the communities and schools appreciate them. One of the things that attracted FTPF to KHS was that the fruit grown on campus is used directly in the school cafeteria.” With this, Dash Kuhr, Executive Director of HIP Ag, selected the variety of trees that suited the school cafeteria's needs and our Kohala climate. Together the group planted the following trees: ulu (5), tangerine (4), mandarin oranges (2), navel oranges (12), lime (2), jaboticaba (1), starfruit (1), mountain apple (1), and avocado (10).
Part-time Educator and Farm Manager at the KHS Farm, Hualalai Kealoha shared, “Planting organic, non-GMO food, like this fruit orchard, and involving our students and families is crucial for our community’s future. It is the Wa’a Mala (canoe gardening) practice that allowed Traditional Polynesian Seafarers to thrive in the biggest ocean on earth on the most isolated land masses with no dependence on a shipping economy.” Planting trees is a beautiful way to provide for the school and larger community for years to come. These trees were planted in hopes that once they bear, the fruit will be dispersed through the Farm to School program. In the meantime, the Natural Resource classes will study their growth and take care of them through watering and weeding. KHS Principal Janette Snelling noted, "Kohala High School truly values the partnership with HIP Ag in their support of the school's vision to provide rich and authentic learning experiences for our students within the Natural Resources pathway. The recent fruit tree planting event represents the types of dynamic community-based learning opportunities that connect learning to real life experiences afforded to our students through our partnerships and the generosity of the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation." We are so thankful for the community partners within the Kohala Complex, HIP Ag, and the FTPF who made this event possible. The next FTPF tree planting will be hosted in the Spring at the Kohala Elementary School, look out for an update so you can participate. To learn more about FTFP's work please visit: ftfp.org