Follow Up on Alvah Scott Elementary’s Garden!

Posted on Mar 24, 2014 in Main



Remember back in October, Team Aggie – a crew of HDOA volunteers – helped to clear and prepare garden beds at Alvah Scott Elementary as part of National Farm to School Month?  (See write up and photos below article) .

Here’s a follow-up article in the Star-Advertiser that tells of how their garden grows!


Sprouts of inspiration

Elementary students grow their social skills and much more in a school vegetable garden

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 24, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 02:17 a.m. HST, Mar 24, 2014

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / [email protected]
Alvah Scott Elementary School students Ian Neill, left, Koakai Bishop, Kiara Kepoo, Tehani Yamashita and Gracelyn Shinmoto gather at a mural in the Serenity Garden — a place where individuals and groups can go when they need a quiet moment or to resolve an issue.

On the upper campus of Alvah Scott Elementary School in Aiea, students are planting tomato and pepper shoots. Some chat excitedly while others concentrate quietly as they place the shoots in a row with a sprinkling of worm-generated compost.

The students are members of the Garden Club, which meets Thursdays and Fridays after school.

“It started out as a form of counseling to give the students another outlet to work in social groups,” said Sharon Aldu­eso, the school’s behavioral health specialist and Garden Club adviser. “They learn teamwork, responsibility and how to follow directions. They learn curiosity and ask really great questions. They learn overall life skills.”

The students from second to fifth grades are grouped into teams to plant the vegetables in raised beds along a patch of taro that was planted by a fourth-grade social studies class.

Green beans are already growing on teepee-shaped frames along with marigolds and sunflowers. Eventually the students will also plant basil, eggplant, zucchini, kale and nasturtiums, an edible flower.

“I like the dirt,” said Koa­kai Bishop, 7, holding up his hands enthusiastically to show the soil on them. “Everyone wants to wear gloves but I don’t.”

Koa­kai, who helps his grandmother in her garden, said he enjoys gardening because he’s good at it.

Gracelyn Shinmoto, 7, said simply, ”I like growing stuff.”

Brennen Panis, 7, says the fun part is getting to eat the food they plant. The students can taste what’s grown in the garden, according to Aldu­eso. That includes poi made from the taro, a pork and green bean dish and, most recently, roasted sunflower seeds.

The garden program started five years ago with water plants placed in a bucket outside of a classroom as a form of counseling, said Aldu­eso, who works with special-needs kids. The plants helped calm students, giving them a place to reflect.

The Garden Club grew from that beginning and with an initial $1,500 investment of school funds. It is now open to all students, and today about 25 are members.

Volunteers from the Air Force, state Department of Agriculture and Boy Scouts, along with Gracelyn’s grandfather, known as Papa Ron, pitch in to help the club. Parents donate many of the gardening materials.

In October 2011 faculty, staff and community volunteers built the raised plant beds — seven 20-by-20-foot plots in all.

Aldueso is using the curriculum provided by the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation’s ‘Aina in Schools program and continues to apply for grants every year to expand its offerings.

Students take responsibility for care of the garden, including adding buckets of fruit and vegetable peelings from the cafeteria to the compost heap next to the plant beds.

In the fall of 2012, the elementary school completed a Serenity Garden, transforming an old garden in the central part of the campus into a grassy courtyard with a colorful, ceramic mural.

The Serenity Garden — a place where individuals and groups can go when they need a quiet moment or to resolve an issue — has Manila palms and a small rock sculpture topped with bromeliads. The school hopes to install two concrete benches there.

Through gardening, students learn about the role of insects, try out various forms of composting and aquaponics, sharpen their observational skills and practice data collection, for example, by counting the number of seeds each sunflower produces.

Next, the students will be building a Native Hawaiian Serenity Garden using native plants and learning about pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Aldueso said the gardens also will be used to teach more lessons in math, science, health and culture.

“Garden Party” spolights unique and exceptional gardens. Contact us via email at features@staradvertiser

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HDOA Web Article
October 2013

Team Aggie (made up of volunteers from HDOA) celebrated Farm-to-School Month by donating their hardwork and ag skills to help Alvah A. Scott Elementary School with their school garden on Saturday, Oct. 19th.  See photos below of the fruits of their labor!

HDOA Chair Russell Kokubun wanted to find a school that needed help and Alvah A. Scott Elementary in Aiea welcomed the HDOA volunteers to prepare their raised beds for planting and to help clear their loi on campus. The garden clean-up was part of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation’s AINA in Schools program, which also provided lunch for the hardworking crew.

Team Aggie included:  Chair Kokubun, Deputy Scott Enright, Ken Kakesako (Chair), Michael Opgenorth (MD), Earl Yamamoto (Chair), Noa Ching (Chair), Laura Ayers (AI), Becky Azama and her son and his girlfriend, Tom Matsuda (PEST), Linda Murai (ARM), Avis Onaga (PEST), Malcolm Onaga (PQ-Retired) and their daughter, Glenn Sakamoto (PQ), Hideki Yamane (MD) and Denna Macanas (QAD).  Denna also brought some strong, young help in the form of students with the Future Farmers of America, now known as FFA.  Mahalo to all!


Farm2School5 -done
The loi – before.
Clearing the loi also meant doing some harvesting!  Looks ono!
Present Proc -red
Michael Opgenorth (right) presents a proclamation from Governor Abercrombie proclaiming October as Farm-to-School Month to Sharon Aldueso, behavioral health specialist (middle) and Ron Shinmoto, or Papa Ron or Grandpa Ron to students.  Mr. Shinmoto often helps with the school garden.
Group shot-red
Group photo of the hardworking crew (some Aggies and some from the school) who worked from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Mahalo all for your labor, expertise and willing spirit!  The students at Alvah Scott Elementary must be anxious to start planting and raising their beautiful garden.  We will check back in a few weeks to see how their garden grows!