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Maui Sustainability Learning Center open for volunteers

By Staff | Feb 10, 2011

Banana starts are planted in the Canoe Garden.

LAHAINA — Lahaina’s new sustainability center in Launuipoko invites the public to come and help with its monthly projects.

Established in 2010, the Maui Sustainability Learning Center, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, already has plantings of bananas, breadfruit and sugarcane in its Canoe Garden, with plans for many more plants that the early Polynesians brought to Hawaii in their canoes.

Future plantings for the Canoe Garden will include ti, taro, uala, pia and awa, as well as natural insecticides in awapuhi (shampoo ginger) and ‘olena (turmeric).

The center staff invites the public — families are welcome — to come to volunteer parties every Sunday afternoon in February (Feb. 6, 13, 20 and 27) from 3 to 5 p.m. The project for February is to plant a ti plant labyrinth.

Participants are asked to bring their own work gloves, hats, sunscreen and closed-toed shoes for working. Initial work will include raking the area, pulling weeds and rocks, laying cardboard and covering it with mulch.

Once the area is prepared, volunteers will plant ti cuttings to form the walls of the labyrinth.

The center will provide refreshments afterwards near sunset.

“There’s a fantastic sunset view here,” promised Dr. Dawn Boucher, executive director.

“We expect to have a different project each month and to have Sunday afternoon work parties like this every week.”

For directions, call her at 298-1494.

The center’s mission is to promote sustainable practices through workshops, volunteer opportunities and hands-on training. It plans to focus on sustainable food production methods practiced in organic, aquaponic and permacultural farming.

Eventually, the learning center will encompass a Canoe Garden of Polynesian-introduced food crops, Lei Garden, organic vegetable garden, aquaponics system, renewable energy technology and a Native Hawaiian plant trail. Plans also include a building containing classrooms and kitchens.

Dr. Boucher extends an invitation for individuals, families, classrooms, scouts, church groups and employee groups to come volunteer or take a tour.

Call her at 298-1494 to make special arrangements and accommodations for larger groups.