Our Islands, Our Future

Kihei Elementary School gives students opportunities to grow – not just academically, emotionally and physically, but also in the campus garden. The lessons for the 850 students participating stems from the nonprofit, Grow Some Good, founded by Kathy Becklin. Garden Coordinator Kirk Surry said Grow Some Good garden educators host daily classes from kindergarten to 5th grade. “Science, math, history, reading and social studies are all experienced in real life in this outdoor edible learning center,” Surry explained.

The garden has areas assigned to different grade levels. For example, kindergarteners are studying the difference between plants harvested from above and below the ground, and 3rd-graders are exploring geography, different cultures and climates and how those factors influence the foods people eat. Surry said the gardening program, now in its sixth year, has had a positive impact on students’ learning and on encouraging a more healthy diet. “Students are excited about growing and eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” he said. “Many teachers who participate in the garden program have also reported their students are able to understand curriculum concepts they had previously struggled to grasp. By giving students a tangible, outdoor experience, students are inspired to learn and make better nutrition choices.”

Kihei School Principal Halle Maxwell said working in the garden is competing with other campus activities. “Some of the children enjoy working in the garden so much that they give up their recess to help water or pull weeds,” Maxwell said. “We have observed children who are shy or those who don’t do well in the classroom, blossom like the plants they are cultivating. They share information or techniques with other students and beam with pride with the positive response from classmates.” Surry said he has been inspired by the keiki in the program. “Every day we see young lives being changed by their experiences in nature,” he said. The program could use more community volunteers plus additional funding to buy garden supplies and hire more staff to keep the movement growing. A fundraiser is planned for March 2nd at the Garden Lawn at Hotel Wailea. For more information, go to