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Grow your own food at the Napili Community Garden

By Staff | Jan 12, 2012

Charlie Dofa grows what he likes to eat at the Napili Community Garden. Dofa just harvested his first crops after 90 days. Photo by Louise Rockett.

NAPILI – What’s green, healthy, educational, saves money, multiethnic, a quality experience for the entire family and reveres time-honored traditions?

Gardening, that’s what, and there’s more!

In 2012, the relatively new Napili Community Garden (NCG) has an offer that can hardly be refused.

It’s on a mission “to cultivate a community rooted in sustainability by providing a place for cooperative organic gardening” on 3.6 acres above Honoapiilani Highway just north of the former Maui Land and Pine base yard.

The community farm is located on former pineapple fields that have been out of production for a sufficient amount of time to be eligible for organic certification.

The Ulupono Initiative subleased the land to the local group.

“We have single plots and double plots,” Ivy Waller reported.

The single plots are ten by 20 feet, and the double plots are 20 by 20 feet.

“Plot-wise we have just under 200,” Waller added.

The plots are available to the public for lease annually. The single plot cost is $50, and the double plot fee is $80.

“We are allowing one plot per person,” Waller noted.

There is also “community farm-style gardening” available, Waller said.

“The community farm,” she continued, “allows for more people to come in if they don’t actually want to tend to a plot, but they want to farm as a community and harvest as a community.”

Education is fundamental to the process, Waller said.

NCG features the “New Earth Systems” variety of gardening – a highly productive technique of integrated agriculture that teaches how to create a balance with nature while cultivating the earth. It involves soil building, solar, wind and water power with a blend of aquaculture, aquaponics, vermiculture, composting and management of waste.

The garden opened in September 2011, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of Tri-Isle Resource Conservation and Development District.

Membership before the start of the year numbered around 75.

The group is led by an organizing council of “active, enthusiastic and engaged gardeners,” its website reads.

Waller is the current council chair.

Charlie Dofa, a local boy with roots on the West Side that extend from Olowalu to Honokohau, was instrumental in the development of the facility’s foundation.

“I did the heavy equipment work, putting in the irrigation and making rows – all that stuff,” Dofa described.

He is a stalwart community garden advocate.

“I think people should work together. Leave everything at home, all the problems and everything, and come and meet everybody. See all the different nationalities – the Polynesians, the Filipinos, the Hawaiians, the Chinese, the Portuguese, the Caucasians. Work together, share ideas, share food,” he said.

“Come over here, bring your family, pick out a plot and just enjoy life. Grab the soil, smell the air and feel the energy of the earth. You can grow your own instead of going to the market and spending $30 on just vegetables,” he said.

Dofa just successfully harvested his first 90-day crop.

“Share, help each other and make sure you plant only the product you really want to enjoy eating. Basically, all my stuff I want to eat. It’s like the tomatoes, the eggplant, the ginger, the green onions, the leeks, the lettuce, three different types of bok choy and peanuts. Okinawan sweet potatoes – they almost like $3.99 a pound. Grow your own!”

Dofa credits the organizational foundation of the garden to his “good friend Tova Callender.”

“This was one of her dreams – to build a community garden on the West Side.”

“Community gardens have been a part of my interest since 2006 when we (Ulupono Initiative) started the community garden at Haliimaile, which is still thriving,” Callender commented.

Callender was the former social investment manager for the Ulupono Initiative on Maui. She explained the reasons for her interest in a facility for this neighborhood.

“There is a population base in Napili,” she said, “that does not have access to land to grow their own food, and yet a lot of people who live in Napili have a background in agriculture. They’ve either been involved in the plantation, or they come from places where subsistence agriculture is still a way of life,” she said.

In any case, the garden is open to all.

Attendance at one of the NCG orientations, however, is a membership prerequisite. Dates for the briefings are Sunday, Jan. 15, 8 to 9 a.m.; and, Thursday, Jan. 26, 8 to 9 a.m.

For more information, visit napiligarden.weebly.com.