ANNUAL REPORT: July 2013 –June 2014
It is important for us at Hoa’Aina O Makaha at the end of the year, to reflect on the life of our organization – evaluating, remembering, being thankful… and our reflections help us to envision and plan for our future as well. For the foundations that are supporting us, it is called a “report” that we need to send to show that their monetary support has been used for the projects they help to fund. For the Catholic Church, from which Hoa’Aina O Makaha is leasing the land, the report is part of our agreement to do things according to our lease as “tenants.” For all of our friends and supporters in our community, in Hawai’i and many parts of the world, it is also a moral obligation to share, not just the activities and numbers, but especially the spirit, the challenges, the human stories, the moments of joy and the moments of discouragement, the celebrations and the failures, the achievements and the shortcomings of the past year, all of these being part of our life here at Hoa’Aina O Makaha.
We believe the strength of an organization is its people – the staff, the board, the participants, the supporters and the unique community. Together they are the heart of the organization, without them nothing would exist and the program would have no soul. That is why in our report, in addition to the number of persons served, we try to share their connections to Hoa’Aina O Makaha through a sampling of their stories, reflections, and words.
This year marks 35 years since the beginning of Hoa`Aina O Makaha. A special friend wrote this reflection on our history.
For 35 years, the organization Hoa ‘Āina O Mākaha has worked hand-in-hand with its neighbors to create a place where people of all ages can experience the remarkable cultural, natural, and community strengths of their ahupua‘a. Although this land-based education center is strongly regional, its mission of building connections between people and nature are universal. With a farm and gardens grounded in Hawaiian culture and knowledge, Hoa ‘Āina ‘brings children and adults together to take care of each other and their land. The learners of all age that Hoa ‘Āina reaches in Mākaha and statewide gain a deeper sense of the connections between individual, community and environmental health and wellbeing. In the 35 years that have passed since the inception of Hoa ‘Āina, the organization has grown and expanded its work, but changed very little about its core approach: valuing the quality of sustained relationships with students and families that are a part of the organization, working with the community not just for the community, and valuing community strengths rather than focusing on community deficits.
Na Keiki O Ka’Aina
This program partners with Mākaha Elementary School (MES) to engage grades K-6th in hands-on place-based learning activities. The lessons are developed in collaboration with the teachers to enhance the classroom curriculum while emphasizing environmental stewardship, sustainability, and developing a connection with the land. The 654 students from Makaha and their teachers come to the farm on a regular basis. Third grade students spend 4 hours at the farm once a week. Other grade levels come to the farm for approximately an hour on a weekly basis. This program started in 1987.
Reflections from students:
Congratulations for having the farm here for 35 years! To me the farm brings back memories and love. Sometimes I feel I’m back in the old days. F-un, A-mazing, R-efuge, M-emories. ALEXIS
Thank you for letting all the grades into the farm…the farm means a lot to me…the farm is better than the classroom…when I am at the farm I feel vital. TANOA
I enjoyed learning about Hawaiian life and culture. Another thing I enjoyed at the farm was all the connection we made and the fun we had. Thank you! NEVAEH
The farm is awesome and we do awesome activities. I think it is a great privilege to be so close. Other schools got to ride on a bus to get to the Farm. I think we are very lucky.
Thank you for teaching me many things like giving us knowledge, learning about Hawaiian culture, Polynesian Triangle, Ahupua’a, dry land kalo, poi and laulalu. I am thankful that you are very nice to us and give us a warm welcome into your home.
That’s why I’m very thankful and happy you let us come into your home and I appreciate you and what you do to give us knowledge. KEANI
My favorite thing about having a farm next to the school is that we get to learn how to plant, cook and we get to take home the plants we grow. Not all the school have that opportunity…. JORDHAN
Thank you also for taking the time to raise money so we can do stuff at the farm. Also thank you for being very nice to me. MAHINA
I hope we can learn more and more every day we go to that farm. Another thing I noticed is every time we see you never was mad, you was happy and I really thank you for so much but I can’t name it all .DUWAYNE
I remember when I used to come to kindergarten and have so much fun. Ever since kindergarten until now (5th grade) the farm is probably the best place in the school.
KE ALA – The Path of Learning
This past year due to lack of funding, fewer staff and internal reorganization of Hoa’aina, we had to limit the number of visiting schools. However we were still able to serve 525 students and their teachers from visiting schools. The Ke Ala Program students participated in half-day outdoor learning activities and lessons focusing on subjects such as sustainability, composting, plant life cycles, and food systems.
Container Garden Program
This program is the community outreach and family engagement component of the Na Keiki O Ka ‘Āina Program. It engages children with their families along the Wai‘anae Coast in learning how to establish, maintain and sustain portable gardens that increase the accessibility of healthy foods in their households. The participants can attend a workshop offered six times a year, which includes four classes: 1.) Introduction to gardening and planting techniques; 2.) Pest management and soil fertility; 3.) Harvesting techniques and cooking demos and 4.) Introduction to aquaponics and vermiculture. During 2013-14, 146 families and 466 individuals participated in our 4-class workshop and 227 families in our one-day workshop.
Some reflections from the participants:
I loved all the aspects of these classes. I learned so much from the classes that I would love to continue coming to the farm to volunteer and learn more about sustainability.
We learned a lot. I will be letting some of the teachers at my school know about this workshop. Thank you for all the info and getting us started on a healthier future.
This workshop was really helpful in bringing our family together. We are moving into a new house and this has given us many ideas. We learned so much about plants and eco-system. SHANNON DURAND
I like how we learned each step from growing seeds, seedlings, using organic fertilizer, caring for the plants and cooking what we grow. Would love to repeat this class and learn something new from each other and meet my community neighbors.
PALS and PLACES
This is a continued partnership with the University of Hawaii’s PALS and PLACES program. Both programs are funded through federal grants from the Native Hawaiian Education Program (NHEP). PALS serves students from MES in an after school program with activities held at the farm; 52 students participated in the PALS program last school year. PLACES provided support to the 3rd graders and one kindergarten class. The 3rd graders were able to connect with the Hokule’a and provide some of the vegetables and herbs that were dried by the children for their current voyage. With the Kindergarten class they built a beautiful butterfly garden where the children can learn about the butterflies. Next year we will be restructuring our partnership with PLACES to provide a full year internship program at the farm for approximately 20 juniors and seniors from Nanakuli High School’s Sustainability Academy.
Hale Ho’omaluhia – the Peace Center
The Peace Center is dedicated to bringing our community together to celebrate life and friendship during events and activities at the farm. Here are some of the events.
December 7, 2013 – Candlelight Celebration – On December 7, 2013 forty-five community members came together to remember those who have passed away. It was a very quiet and moving gathering preparing the spirit to celebrate Christmas and feel the presence of those who passed away but still in our heart. We started with sharing and reflection from people who lost persons close to them and then finished with a prayer and signs of support.
We frequently don’t see the effect that people feel when they participate in ceremony that comforts the soul. Recently, I met a woman, who lost her husband last year. The woman, holding back tears reflected on the ceremony she attended last year, she said, “(referring to the candlelight ceremony), “I was comforted by the fact that there were people who have experienced the loss of someone close, a loss that created a hole in my soul, at the ceremony I felt the closeness of my husband, something I had not felt since his death, my soul was beginning to heal and I felt comforted and at peace.” “I really feel that the spirit of the farm guides you and your husband to create and inspire and comfort those of us who often have no clue of what is happening in our lives…” LUANN
January 26, 2014 – Just to Say Thank You – We feel it important to say thank you to so many people who have been strong supporters and friends. The following invitation was sent out to invite them to a gathering to show our appreciation:
This Christmas Season we sense a deep feeling of Gratitude in Our Hearts. We feel closer to the people we love and who love us.
We are thankful to the people who walk with us in this journey of life; the children, parents, teachers, friends and visitors.
We are blessed for your support, your patience, compassion, understanding and your generous friendship.
Mahalo for partaking in the vision of Hoa’Aina O Makaha
Your commitment encourages us to continue the work in our community. Your support has been vital for the growth of Hoa`Aina O Makaha. We would like to invite you for a luncheon at Hoa’aina O Makaha on January 26, 2014.
Nearly 80 people, despite the weather and the football game, came to share their stories. The following is a wonderful testimony from Laurence Kometani from Exacta Sales, where we buy the pots for the container gardens and other farm supplies:
I wanted to thank you for a wonderful afternoon and terrific lunch. I feel so blessed that you have included Exacta Sales as a partner in your journey. Hoa Aina O Makaha is a place so full of positive energy and surrounded by wonderful people that you feel like you have come back to the roots of life. To hear stories of people that have been involved from childhood and are coming back with their kids makes it special. The learning and teaching that goes on is a source that is hard to replicate and should always be treasured. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your lives. LAURENCE KOMETANI
March 29, 2014 – Kanikapila – Nearly daily we meet former students who now are grown up, are parents who have children in Makaha Elementary. They always fondly remember the days at the farm. At our first “kanikapila,” 68 adults and children gathered to celebrate these memories, with sharing, songs, hula and a lot of smiles and hugs.
May 3, 2014 – Annual Farm Open House – This year we celebrated the 35th anniversary of the beginning of the farm on May 3rd with the theme: Celebrating 35 years of VISIONS and DREAMS at Hoa ‘Aina O Makaha. Approximately 1,000 children and adults were in attendance, with the participation of many community organizations: Wai’anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, PALS and PLACES, E Ala voyaging canoe, Ma’o Farms, Coalition for Drug Free Hawai`i, Kokua Foundation, Ka’ala Farm, Nalani Halau and all the children and teachers of Makaha Elementary with many fun activities. The Annual Farm Open House is by now a celebration that people in our community look forward to every year to enjoy activities, food and friendship.
Some of the participants’ reactions:
I loved the pizza from the stone oven. So was the pasta. I hope I’ll be here next year.
I made poi and put it into a leaf. I really enjoyed it. I hope I will be able to come back and do this again. MINA
Thank you for having these events. We appreciate it. GALENE MASAYO
Thank you for all you do and for giving our community such a wonderful place to learn and GROW. THE PANOKE OHANA –farm’s neighbors
Thank you for having us. My family and I had a great time. We are looking forward to the next time you have this. Loved everything and we had a blast today. THE VEA’S
Your farm is very wonderful, thank you for letting everyone enjoy this fair with all your work. NATALIE
Hoa ‘Āina has many visitors who come to the farm other than those that are involved in our programs and celebrations. Visitors come from our extended O‘ahu community such as students from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and West O‘ahu campuses, DOE state resource teachers, Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation, Waldorf School Honolulu, and other teachers from different schools who come for workshops and to volunteer. Internationally, we are also visited by many different guests from around the world, such as Social Work students from Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan. Our most recent international visitors were from Japan.
June 12, 2014- Peace Boat – The Peace Boat is a Japan-based international non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment. The Peace Boat seeks to create awareness and action based on effecting positive social and political change in the world. They pursue this through the organization of global educational programs, responsible travel, cooperative projects and advocacy activities. These activities are carried out on a partnership basis with other civil society organizations and communities in Japan, Northeast Asia, and around the world. They visited us in June, while at the Honolulu Port, spending all day learning about Hoa’Aina O Makaha, our community and Hawaiian culture.
Here some of their reactions:
I was able to know the real things in Hawaii. There was something completely different from what I thought. MYOKO
I was impressed by the statement that it’s not a farm but a garden and that you “grow people” here. SHIMOBU
After seeing you living every day with respect for nature, I recalled our lives in Japan in good old days. SADAKO
Good spirit flows here and my soul, mind got at ease. MITSUKO
I wondered how I could connect this good feeling with the busy life in Japan>I want to live my life more freely. MIDORI
If you did not fall asleep by reading all of this and managed to get this far, we would like to share a little bit about the people who work here:
Judy is our Financial Administrator. She counts all the millions that we have every day, and makes sure that all of our money is spent wisely.
Brenda is the Volunteers Coordinator and our cook. She has great knowledge of the community and the school. Leave it to Brenda, we say.
Elysa has been part of the team since June last year. She is the Program Coordinator and makes sure that Gigi does not forget things since he is getting very old. She is very busy working with the interns from PLACES, the Food Corps person just assigned to us, the Ke Ala Program, the different groups in Wai’anae and does some of the grants and reports. It was tiring just writing about all the different jobs she does for us.
Shannon is our Farm Manager and Container Garden Instructor. He is loved by young and old. He is creative and funny. He takes care of our 5 acre farm, making sure that everything is ready for children and families.
Magaly is the new member of the group. She has a Master’s degree in teaching, speaks Spanish, is from El Salvador but grew up and taught in New York. She is another work alcoholic with a great sense of humor. She is the Garden Teacher working with the 650 children of Makaha Elementary.
Gigi is our Executive Director. When Japanese people come they laugh because “gigi” in Japanese means grandfather, old man. He tries to keep an eye on the young people working here, but often feels he is getting too old. He always says is going to retire but never does. He likes to be the boss, that’s why he doesn’t retire, and because he is old, he sometimes worries that he forgets what he is supposed to do.
John is not a staff person because we do not pay him, but he really is a “staff” member because he continues to work with us. He helps us to deepen our understanding of what we are doing. He used to be called a “consultant,” but now his title is “friend” because friends do not get paid.
If this report has been too long it is because it has been written by the Executive
Director who is an old man. I hope though that you have enjoyed it a little, and it has not been too boring like some speeches or some sermons. Please let us know your reactions to our report. If you respond and you are lucky, you might have the chance to win a ticket to volunteer to do some work at the farm on the 3rd Saturday of each month.
With Great Appreciation and Gratitude,
Gigi and the Staff of Hoa’Aina O Makaha