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‘Gifting Trees for Maui’ Project starts Nov. 28

By BY LOUISE ROCKETT - | Nov 27, 2020

Kimokeo Kapahulehua (left) pots tree samplings with Uncle George Kahumoku Jr. at Kahumoku’s farm in Kahakuloa on Nov. 14. Rotarians were invited to the farm to take small saplings for the “La‘au Ha‘awi Maui” project.

WEST MAUI — A strong partnership of like-minded island stewards have joined forces to launch the “La’au Ha’awi Maui” project — “Gifting Trees for Maui” — commencing on Saturday, Nov. 28, to help heal our planet and restore the well-being of our Mother Earth. Aloha ‘Aina.

The team of conservationists is an eclectic blend of the indefatigable from all quarters of the Valley Isle, including nine Rotary Clubs, Maui ‘Ohana Gardens and Food Security Hawaii.

The goal is to plant 500 food-bearing trees — avocado, mango, papaya, banana, ulu, citrus, dwarf coconuts and other nut trees — on Maui between Nov. 28 and Jan. 31, 2021.

Food Security Hawai’i believes, “The solution to island-wide food security and global climate change are one in the same — creating carbon-rich fertile soils for local food production.”

Jenny Pell, program manager at Maui ‘Ohana Gardens, noted, “We believe securing food supply for this and future generations is critical. It’s your kuleana to grow food for your ‘ohana. We are very pleased to partner with Rotary Clubs on Maui to reach out to many people who can grow food in their backyard,” she explained.

Mariko Higashi, the Rotary campaign lead, is the current assistant governor, Coastal Maui Rotary Clubs, and past president of the Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset.

“Nov. 28 is the global Rotary Giving Thanks Day,” the community leader advised the Lahaina News.

“This year,” she continued, “in Hawaii, Rotary Clubs on all the islands decided to plant trees.”

“Clubs on each island are planting in their own ways,” Higashi added. “We (on Maui) are planting the trees over two months, as we can reach more ‘tree hosts’ as COVID-19 restrictions do not allow us to plant trees in big groups on a single day.”

“This is a project for future generations” Higashi continued. “By planting fruit trees, we connect the generations, neighbors and community, in addition to mitigating adverse impacts of climate change.”

“We are so grateful for the support we received from Native Hawaiians Uncle George Kahumoku Jr. and Uncle Kimokeo Kapahulehua, who have both generously given their time for this project,” Higashi added.

Kapahulehua donated a number of small saplings for the project.

Musician and educator Kahumoku is an honorary member of a few of the Maui Rotary Clubs.

He christened the project “La’au Ha’awi Maui.” At the blessing of international Rotary Giving Thanks Day, Uncle George will offer the opening pule (prayer).

On a recent weekend, he also opened his home-ranch in Kahakuloa to help the Rotarians get a jump start on the tree gifting work.

The public is encouraged to contribute. Different ways to participate are listed at https://mauiohanagardens.org/treeplanting/: “Become a tree host. Plant trees at your house. Volunteer to plant trees in your neighborhood or at another location, like a school garden, or donate trees you have in pots that need to get in the ground.”

“Each tree comes with volunteer labor (if you want) to help you get your trees planted, some good soil, wood chips, a few companion plants, and some fencing if you need to protect the tree,” the Maui ‘Ohana Gardens literature reads.

Cash donations are another opportunity to support getting trees planted at lower income households or neighborhoods.

“We are asking for $50 per tree from the ‘tree host,'” Higashi advised, “but the donation is not required to host trees and any amount of donation would be welcome.

“The donation will mainly go to purchase (some) saplings (since we probably cannot get 500 free, donated saplings), planting soil and compost (very important part of the planting), pots for saplings (to be used to keep donated saplings from somebody’s yards), Maui Ohana Garden’s creation of simple planting manual, etc.

“In addition,” Higashi observed, “not everybody and every institution (e.g. senior centers, youth centers, homeless shelters, etc.) will be able to pay for the trees, so the donation will cover the cost of the trees for them.

“Donors can send a check to the Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset Foundation, P.O. Box 12861, Lahaina. HI 96761. Please ask them to indicate on the check that it is for the gifting tree project. Alternatively, donors can send money via Venmo through the webpage,” Higashi said.

Questions? Contact Higashi at marikoinmaui@gmail.com or call her at (808) 866-8116.

Trees are our BFF. Lovingly planting them is one of the least expensive, most expeditious and doable acts that can be taken to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change.