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Extension agent explaining irrigation parts
Extension agents at the Urban Garden Center led the irrigation workshop for the community.

Home gardeners learned about irrigation systems and how to build their own systems by using easily obtained products at a free workshop offered by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). The educational event, held at the Urban Garden Center in Pearl City in February, was part of the CTAHR Cooperative Extension (CE) Garden series.

Led by Extension agents, participants got their hands wet by working together to organize common irrigation supplies found in local garden shops. After selecting materials, the group designed their own irrigation systems by connecting tubing to a garden hose attachment, punching a hole in the main line using a hole punch, and fastening a sprinkler emitter to the main irrigation line.

“The presenters spoke at a pace at which beginning gardeners could understand,” said one participant. “We learned the names of the parts, how to put the system together, and had a hands-on experience to help us feel more confident.”

“We take great pride in using the hands-on teaching demonstration method to engage with the public so they can play an active role in their learning. It’s what [Cooperative] Extension does best,” added Jari Sugano, Oʻahu County Administrator and organizer of the Extension series. “I love seeing participants light up with enthusiasm and help one another in understanding science-based concepts.”

Extension agents Joshua Silva, Tina Lau, Amjad Ahmad and Alberto Ricordi from CTAHR’s Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences coordinated with Oʻahu County Extension staff members to host the workshop. With steady interest and positive feedback from the public, an advanced irrigation workshop is being planned for spring 2023.

Join future CE workshops in the garden by registering on Eventbrite or call the main office at (808) 453-6050.

The bigger picture

people building irrigation systems from PVC pipes
The participants designed their own irrigation systems using common irrigation supplies.

Although this event allowed guests to take part in a fun DIY activity, it ultimately reinforced the importance of water conservation and showed guests the proper use of water, a precious resource in our islands.

During the workshop, CE shared the measures they have taken over the past three years to reduce potable water use at the garden, keeping in mind their neighbors in Red Hill and that community’s need for quality water for drinking, bathing, cooking and basic activities.

One of the first initiatives taken was selecting more sustainable plants for the typically dry and hot Pearl City environment. The Urban Garden Center also stopped watering their lawns and cut back on irrigating plants that could be rainfall fed. Additionally, they capped unnecessary sprinkler heads and moved to drip irrigation instead of manually watering plants.

“This week we started installing valves on each sprinkler in our greenhouses so we can turn off sprinklers when not in use,” said Sugano. “We removed plants which were highly dependent on daily watering. Slowly we are making strides in reducing potable water use so there will be more groundwater in our aquifers for those who need it.”

Sugano added, “Everyone from large farms to small backyard gardeners play an important role in ensuring our water systems are safe and available for generations to come. Water is the essence to survival in our island state.”

Read more at the CTAHR website.

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