Honolulu's Ka Mala o Niuhelewai receives Xeriscape Award of Excellence

2012 Betty Crocker Landscape Awards announced

Honolulu Community College
Billie K T Lueder, (808) 845-9187
Communications & External Affairs, Chancellor's Office
Posted: Jun 27, 2012

Braddah J Barrett and Alapaki Luke represented the college at the 2012 Betty Crocker Awards.
Braddah J Barrett and Alapaki Luke represented the college at the 2012 Betty Crocker Awards.
The campus community enjoying the first harvest of the mala.
The campus community enjoying the first harvest of the mala.
Honolulu Community College’s Ka Māla o Niuhelewai, The Garden of Niuhelewai, received the Award of Excellence in the Xeriscape category at the 2012 Betty Crocker Landscape Awards ceremony held on June 25, 2012, at the Outrigger Canoe Club. Last year, the college also took top honors in this category for its vegetable garden and greenhouse.
“The māla creates awareness by connecting to student learning, while promoting sustainability through mālama ‘āina (caring for land/earth),” shares Mark Alapaki Luke, Honolulu CC Hawaiian studies instructor and project coordinator.  “Honolulu CC received a $25,000 grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to plant Hawaiian varieties of kalo in a dry land māla. The māla serves as an educational platform to teach our students how to use the traditional Native Hawaiian holistic approach to caring for our community.”
In March 2011, Honolulu Community College started building the dry stack pā pōhaku (rock enclosure) with the help of Attwood Makanani of Kaho‘olawe and Ron Johnson of Kahana Valley, two Native Hawaiian agricultural practitioners. Over the past year, students and staff and faculty members learned how to set rock, prepare the land, plant and care for approximately 20 varieties of kalo (taro) and numerous native plants. A hoʻolauleʻa to celebrate the first year of the māla was held in April that the community was invited to enjoy the first harvested crop of kalo. Participants were able to kuʻi ʻai (pound kalo) their own poi on poi boards and poi stones made by students, faculty, and staff. An imu was set for cooking the kālua pig and ʻuala (sweet potato).
The historical land use of the Honolulu Community College campus is thoroughly documented in the Land Court Awards and old maps of the Kalihi-Kapālama area. The campus area alone was home to 45 documented lo‘i (taro patches), fed by Niuhelewai Stream and two springs, all of which were diverted and filled in after 1900.
Various students, programs and employees from across the campus participated in the development of the garden. The State of Hawai‘i Taro Security and Purity Task Force also helped in the planting.  Some of the huli, or cut stems, came from Ka Papa Lo‘i o Kānewai at the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa. The huli from the Honolulu CC māla was shared with other O‘ahu schools and farmers, including St. Louis School, King Lunalilo Elementary and Koko Head Elementary. The māla embraces the true meaning of subsistence/sustainability and mālama ʻāina through hands-on partcipation.
The Betty Crocker Landscape Awards, sponsored by Scenic Hawai‘i, is held annually to recognize and acknowledge people who work every day to make Hawai‘i a more beautiful place. While many professionally designed and installed landscapes are celebrated, many other public and private landscapes are the result of passionate individuals who simply have an avid gardening interest and concern for the environment. Honolulu CC is grateful for the honor.