HDOA Highlights Local Flowers to Honor Veterans on Memorial Day

Posted on May 10, 2013 in 2013 News Releases, News-Releases

Public Invited to Sew Lei for Veterans’ Cemeteries

HONOLULU – The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is inviting the public, from keiki to kupuna, to come and sew locally grown flowers to honor those interred at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl and the State Veterans’ Cemetery in Kaneohe.

HDOA’s Plant Quarantine Branch will open its doors on:

Saturday, May 25, 2013
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Plant Quarantine Branch, 1849 Auiki St., near Sand Island (map)
Free parking!  Free Buy Local, It Matters giveaways!

HDOA will provide thousands of locally grown flowers and the lei-making supplies.  Backyard flowers are also welcome!

“The long-standing tradition that honors our veterans holds greater Aloha when the lei is made with our local flowers,” said Russell S. Kokubun, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “Over the past years, many Hawaii flower growers have gone out of business due to competition from foreign growers.  When we talk about sustainability, it doesn’t just mean food security, it also includes the preservation of traditions and cultural aspects that make our community thrive.”

Finished lei will be taken to the Oahu veterans’ cemeteries to be placed on the graves by local scouting organizations the following day.  More than 50,000 lei are needed to honor every grave.

“We have ordered thousands of plumeria, tuberose, orchids and other lei flowers and foliage,” said Carol Okada, manager of the Plant Quarantine Branch.  “We need to turn the tide and replace imported flowers with local flowers and the more people get that message, the stronger Hawaii’s floriculture industry can become.”

HDOA is working in coordination with the City and County of Honolulu, which is responsible for the Memorial Day ceremonies at Punchbowl.  City lei queens will make a special appearance at the event.

There will also be lei-making demonstrations and educational displays.  The event also ties into the Buy Local, It Matters campaign, which encourages consumers to purchase locally grown produce and products whenever possible.

“If you don’t know how to sew a lei, we will have people available to teach you,” said Okada.  “We feel it’s a really nice way to honor our veterans as well as showcase Hawaii blossoms.”

The public may also drop off flowers at the Plant Quarantine Branch earlier in the week if they are not able to attend on May 25.

Click here for a flyer about the event.

Click here for map to Plant Quarantine Office