Do you know what is unbelievable? The amount of information about sustainable agriculture that I have learned over the course of my first week in Kaua`i! . From vermiculture to invasive species, poi to soursop, and everything in between, my first week at Malama Kaua`i has been incredibly fulfilling. The hands-on opportunities that this program gives me is allowing me to approach my major and career trajectory in a whole new way. By engaging in farming and agriculture related work and understanding what jobs in those sectors entail, I’ve been able to better understand where my true passions and interests lie.
My organization, Malama Kaua`i, focuses primarily on sustainable agriculture and ways to use it to educate and aid local communities. They have a food forest that is used to supply fresh, sustainably grown foods to locals as well as protect native plant species. They also are in the final stages of completing their Youth Garden. Furthermore, they have a community farm that allows locals to farm on small plots of land.
At Malama, I help run the Summer Agriculture Internship by providing my supervisor with any assistance that they need. For example, my daily tasks can range from prepping plants, weeding the invasive grass and flowers for 5 hours, designing a Lei garden, harvesting copious amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, or even playing agriculture related games with visiting groups of local children. However, the bulk of my work surrounds the Youth Garden that, once finished, will be used to teach local children about sustainable agriculture and farming techniques. The Youth Garden is broken down into several sections: Hawaiian plants, a row garden, Lei Garden, “Trash to Treasure” area, and even an Asian variety garden.
My daily tasks can range from prepping plants, weeding the invasive grass and flowers for 5 hours, designing a Lei garden, harvesting copious amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, to even playing agriculture related games with visiting groups of children. Outside of the Youth garden, the internship program schedules two fields trips per week to different farms and gardens across the island. During the first week, we visited a local taro farm and learned about the cultural significance of the food and the land. Interns also ventured out to several local worm farmers to learn about the critical role that worms play in keeping the soil nutritious.
Needless to say, the variation in tasks at work has shown me how much more diverse and fascinating the environment and agriculture is as a whole. Besides the first sunburn of my life, the natural beauty on Kauai and the satisfaction of my work has made my first week here a success.