In March the Kona Tūtū and Me families visited the Amy Greenwell Ethno Botanical Gardens for our “Caring for the Environment” huaka‘i, and we also used this opportunity to incorporate the Jack Johnson ‘Ohana Foundation project.
Families met us at the location ready to get their hands dirty and kōkua! The staff at Amy Greenwell Gardens needed help in gathering leaves that had fallen from the ‘ulu trees in order to make mulch. The leaves are used to keep the moisture in the lo‘i patch so the kalo would grow. Kalo is planted to perpetuate the native species.
We all practiced the Hawaiian value, Laulima (cooperation and teamwork) and worked together to gather these leaves into a huge pile, that will eventually go into the lo‘i patch. Keiki, families and our Tūtū and Me staff were engaged in meaningful work, and keiki were able to do this all by themselves.
As we all moved under the kukui trees to gather the nuts that had fallen to the ground, our guide Aunty Kamuela, shared that if you look at the leaves, they tell the story of Kamapua‘a, the pig demigod. Kukui means light and the bark of the kukui tree has many uses. It can be used as dye, the sap to treat thrush, and the oil from the nuts were used by ancient Hawaiians for light.
The keiki were asked to be good observers and to use their maka (eyes) to find the kukui nuts that had fallen to the ground. Some were hiding under leaves and were camouflaged in the dirt. The keiki gathered the nuts into buckets and carried them over to the workers at the gardens. The nuts that we gathered will be used for lei making.
It was a great feeling to get our hands in the ‘āina and help in our community. The staff at Amy Greenwell Ethno Botanical Gardens was so thankful for our hard work and invited us to come back and visit the gardens at anytime.