The center began with a native Hawaiian garden — Ka Uluwehi o Ka Na'auao, or a place where beautiful plants thrive. The garden was planned over several months with students and staff researching the design and hoped-for plants, then landscaped and planted with the help of community members and company sponsor Hawaiian Electric Co. (watch HECO video of the garden construction), which also donated the irrigation and sprinkler system.
Tracts of school grounds were transformed into rows and clusters of taro, sweet potato and native flora including naupaka, 'akulikuli, alahe'e, ewa hinahina, maio and ilima, and medicinal plants like ko, awa, ki, ko'o ko'olau and olena. A
worm bin for green composting and
aquaponics system were installed to help educators incorporate STEM and recycling lessons.
Weeding data are collected to note the differences in types and proliferation of weeds among the different garden segments and plant types.
And the school is teaming with the
Prudential Locations Foundation to construct an outdoor hale to more easily host classes associated with the garden. (The Locations Foundation donates time and resources to schools on many community service projects, including the Back Pack to School Drive, a Hawaii 3R's project at Washington Middle School, and its 1st annual Legacy Project at Palolo Elementary.) Future plans include a greenhouse and plant nursery.
The Outdoor Learning Center received financial and hands-on support from Keoneula Elementary families and neighbors who were thanked on the center's blog:
Mahalo as well to these companies/nonprofits for their assistance: Takenaka Landscaping, Hui Ku Maoli Ola, iSIS Hawaii, Hapa Farms, Chevron, Haseko, Gentry and Kokua Hawaii.