Mala'ai School Garden

Click Here to learn more about Mala'ai.

To view a video news clip (4.5 mins) on Mala'ai, click here:   

Mala'ai 2015-16 Annual Report:  
Please click on the two images below to blow up for easier reading:

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This aerial -- taken from a kite by Tom Benedict -- features our beautifully productive learning garden! 
November 2012


Mäla’ai Learning Garden   Produces Delicious ‘Bounty’

The rugged roots of Yakon (pictured here in the wheelbarrow with Mala’ai garden volunteer and Chef Susan Conley Moritz) do not look very tempting, but the delicious center of this tuber was an essential ingredient in the mouthwatering salad that chefs from the Four Seasons Resort-Hualalai’s Beach Tree  Restaurant made when cooking with students.  Chefs accepted some of our Yakon to use in salads the next several days at the elegantly casual Beach Tree Restaurant and to thank Mala’ai, they donated all proceeds from the  salads - more than $800 -- back to our not-for-profit learning garden!  This is one of a  number of ways the “fruits” of our student garden are helping support this project.  Other “regular” customers now include Village Burger-Kamuela (iced tea herbs), Honopua Farms booth at Waimea Homestead Farmers Market (herbs and onions), and Sandwich Isle Bread Company (Kabocha pumpkin).  Mahalo!

During the 2012-'13 School Year, we move into our 8th year...and see such remarkable changes in our school garden!  A place of beauty that inspires learning, land stewardship and healthier choices, please come see for yourself -- including our new vegetable cooking station, germination station, and most important - the fertility of the land - a product of pa'ahana - hard, industrious work by nearly 2,000 students! 

Please help us keep our garden growing by supporting Mala'ai!!

 ~Warm aloha - Amanda, Alethea, Holly, Vivienne & Volunteer Board.


To provide students with the trans-formative experience of working with the earth to grow nourishing food, and the pleasure of preparing and sharing that food.  Doing so will empower students to make healthy, gratifying choices that will impact the health and well being of our entire island community.  

Mala'ai's Outdoor Classroom

Laying hens are the newest residents at Mala'ai...

Mahalo to the docs, nurses and staff of Kaiser Permanente Hawai'i -- and community friends -- for volunteering at Mala'ai on Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Day of Service" - January 17, 2011. 

Students' garden jobs include weighting and logging in all foods grown and harvested.

2017-18 School Year

Still time to sign up for our exciting "Full STEAM Ahead Summer Adventure" - which includes time in

the Mala'ai Garden plus field trips to the watershed and ocean...and a full day of water safety and fun

at Hapuna Beach!

For more about summer options and applications, please click here.

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Looking for something fascinating -- and free -- to do?  

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Still time to sign up for this Saturdayʻs workshop! 

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Congratulations WMS Class of 2021! 

Students leave their mark on the garden...

Garden teamwork...

Students help prep kalo for "send-off" dinner for Waimea members of the Hokule'a worldwide voyage's final leg home!  

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Students help prepare delicious, healthy snacks during garden class...
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Mahalo to all who attended and contributed

to our Mala'ai School Garden Art & Sol Benefit!

Please join us!

KRAUT NO DOUBT!  2-PART COMMUNITY WORKSHOP ON MAKING SAUERKRAUT:  10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Sat., April 8 & 22, 2017, hosted by Mala’ai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School and the Atherton Family Foundation.  Maddy Sofranac, an avid fermenter who views lacto-fermentation of local veggies as healthy for our immune systems, will share recipes, techniques and health benefits information.  Bring 2 wide-mouthed jars and veggies (cabbage, carrots, etc. though there will be items available) to the first workshop to make 2 jars of kraut.  At the 2nd workshops, taste and troubleshoot your kraut.  RSVP please: – sending your name and phone number please.  Free for students, families, faculty and staff of WMS, WES and Kanu; $20 for all others.  Mala’ai is an organic learning garden on Waimea Middle School’s campus.  Lots of parking available.  Bring weather protection. More info:  

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Something New After School:

This program will continue in 2nd Semester.  

There's still room for more students.  

To apply, please download this application by double clicking, 

or stop by the school office, or call Mrs. Pat Rice (887-6090 

Ext. 296), or email: 

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Please join us and learn about supporting Mala'ai!

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9 a.m. to noon, Saturdays, Sept. 24 and Nov. 19, 2016

Lots of different kinds of work needed. Choose what

interests you.  

Light lunch provided by Mala’ai along with tools.  

Please wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and bring weather protection.  

Info: Alethea Lai (989-7861) or email:   

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4th Quarter 2016 - Integrating Hands-On 

Garden Experiences Into Science, 

Technology & Health 

Please join us! 

9th Annual Mala'ai Garden 'Art & Sol' Benefit & Auction!  
1:30-4:30 p.m., Sun., April 10 - Kahilu Theatre Galleries

Celebrating this life-changing school-community partnership that supports Waimea’s middle school students, their teachers, families and friends.  Each year well over a hundred community volunteers work and learn together with more than 270 students in this one-acre  garden, sharing countless lessons of team work, communication and self reliance, as well as science, math, the systems in nature, and making good choices for healthy, meaningful lives. Tickets $50 for delicious pupu paired with wines; $100 FOR VNP (Very Nice Person) tickets, $50 of which is a direct donation.  Always some of the most coveted art pieces, this year including three extraordinary pieces of wauke kapa hand-stamped by kapa master Roen Hufford, plus an heirloom-to-be custom-made Koa clef bench, which was inspired by the treble clef  settee first crafted for Queen Lili’uokalani to reflect the Queen’s love of music - by master furniture builder Stan Gollaher of Pa’auilo’s Raiatea Woodworks.  Plus hand-made jewelry, beautiful baskets of the best-of-Waimea fresh produce, one-of-a-kind experiences and chef dinners. Info and to purchase tickets, go to, call Alethea Lai (989-7861) or email alethea@mala’ 

This extraordinary curly koa heirloom-to-be is being handcrafted to benefit our WMS children! Itʻs a koa treble clef settee, which is being custom made by Paʻauilo master furniture craftsman Stan Gollaher for Malaʻaiʻs Art & Sol benefit auction Sun., April 10. It was inspired by a very similar though longer koa settee crafted for Queen Liliʻuokalani to reflect her love of music. We thank Stan for again contributing a treasured koa collectible to our annual auction.


From the time Mala’ai was a dream only just forming in the mind of its founder, 

Waimea’s Dr. Michelle Suber, the lahui of Waimea community friends drawn to 

support this vision of a thriving outdoor “living classroom” included Waimea 

kapa masters Marie McDonald and her daughter Roen Hufford.  In the ensuring 

years - about 15 since the very beginning and 11 years since the first earth

was turned to start Mala’ai – Marie and Roen have contributed in many ways –

with hands on lessons, farm tours for students, gifts of wauke starts, wisdom

and friendships.  Their generosity continues…

For this year’s auction, Roen grew the wauke (paper mulberry) here in the family’s 

Hawaiian Homestead Honopua Farm, then stripped the bark and hand-pounded it into 

beautiful creamy sheets of fibre, and then created natural dyes from olena, kukui, 

wauke charcoal, lobelia and Mao hao hele (Hibiscus brackenrigei) the State flower 

which is a native hibiscus, and more to color and print her pieces. 

Each is quite distinctive and each features a different blend of printing styles, 

ranging from using several of her mom’s prized ohe kapala (bamboo stamps which 

she “never uses”), to a classic spiral fiddle head fern image representing new growth 

(but also reminding Roen of a stunning spiral staircase she saw at the National 

Museum of the American Indian), to the stems of mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria 

trifasciata), to small woodblocks that Roen brought back from India, where they are 

used as part of that country’s rich heritage of textile making and printing.

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MAHALO to everyone who contributed to and attended our final Super Kitchen - it was 
such a warm gathering of Mala'ai 'ohana and friends - deliciously healthy too! Special thanks to the kitchen crew led by wa'a chef Maulili Dickson! And mahalo, too, to Mana Christian 'Ohana for your support and kokua!

You Are Invited!  

Mala'ai's Final FREE Super Kitchen Dinner!  

5:30-7 p.m., Wed., Jan. 13 – Kahilu Town Hall 

Presented by Mala’ai school garden to share deliciously fresh, healthy, easy-to-make Hawaiian food – chicken and vegetarian laulau, luau stew, steamed kalo and sweet potato, hoi’o (warabe or fern shoot) salad and tangerines.  This is a family-friendly gathering with music and is very casual!  No RSVPs required, just come.  Several other Hawai’i Island schools with garden programs will join with Mala’ai in sharing their progress with the ‘Ai Pono Project, which was inspired by PWO Navigator Chadd Paishon, who challenged school gardens islandwide to grow and/or prepare healthy foods to send with our wa’a ‘ohana on deep sea voyages.  Also joining the program will be North Hawai’i Blue Zones volunteers with a smoothie bicycle to prepare fresh from scratch fruit smoothies, and HPA students and staff assisting with Zero waste.  All invited and kokua welcome with prep and cleanup.  Assisting with food prep is voyaging chef Maulili Dickson.  Info: Alethea Lai (989-7861).  

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Mahalo to all who helped with recent Super Kitchen dinners and to those who joined us!  
Pictures below show WMS students feverishly working with wa'a-chef Maulili Dickson to prep veggies for our delicious Filipino-themed dinner!  And yes, sometimes the onions do "get" to you!  

Wa'a-chef Maulili Dickson brief students on the Super Kitchen meal    they will help prepare.

WMS students routinely share a protocol chant before entering Mala'a garden for class.  

May 2015: 

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Mahalo to all who supported Art & Sol 2015! 

Mala'ai's student-run Farm Stand resumes this Wed., April 1 - 2-3:30 p.m. near the garden by the back entry drive!  
Beautiful fresh, inexpensive produce grown by students!  Everyone invited!  Please stop by!  It will continue for the next 6 weeks through May 6!  

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          Mala'ai Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary! 


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    Mala'ai's Free SUPER KITCHEN! 
                                         News Feature on the Feb. 11 gathering:

 Next Free Super Kitchen: Wed., April 29, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Kahilu Town Hall 

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Mala'ai: The Culinary Garden at Waimea Middle School


Mala’ai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School cultivates the relationship between students and the land through growing and sharing nourishing food in our outdoor living classroom. Our work reaches beyond the boundaries of our garden connecting land stewardship, culture, health and pleasure with lifelong learning.

                                                                             -- Adopted August 2011


Generosity of Spirit, Integrity, Sustainability, Beauty, Harmony, 
Connectedness, Appreciation and Respect

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Please Consider Joining Us For This Delicious Gathering! 

Mala'ai Introduces 'Ai Pono Products 
To Connect Students and Community 
To Our World Wide Voyagers! 

Look what our students have been doing  -- 
developing a line of seasonings and teas for the  Hokule'a and Hikianalia World Wide Voyage crews!  Our students are growing, harvesting, drying and blending the products, which are a welcome addition to the diets of the voyagers, and in the process, they are s
haring what they are learning in the Mala'ai garden and becoming directly "connected" to voyagers from our community! 
It's our 'Ai Pono initiative, which was inspired by a "challenge" by Waimea's own PWO Navigator Chadd Paishon to grow foods to help sustain our voyagers. As you read this, the voyagers on the current leg of the WWV are enjoying these healthy, delicious treats which were hand carried to them by Waimea's own Pomai Bertelmann.    
A warm mahalo to everyone who has invested time, sweat, thought and aloha in these treats for our wayfinders...and it's just the beginning!  
Great work Mala'ai!  And please check back -- there's more to come!  

Teas, snacks & herbs prepared by WMS students in the Mala'ai Garden were hand-carried by Pomai Bertelmann to share with Hokule'a and Hikianalia crew members on the current leg of the World Wide Voyage! 
WMS students wash and prepare taro leaves and other ingredients that they have grown in our Mala'ai garden to help refine a "recipe" for a delicious "snack food" for our voyagers, called Māla`ai Niu Lū`au Chips (Taro Leaf in Coconut).  It looks like delicious fun, but there's also a lot of careful attention to detail and rigor to creating and preparing a recipe that's consistent, meets food safety requirements, and will travel well!  

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Please Join Us Wednesday, December 3, 2014, for our 3rd Delicious Free            

Super Kitchen Dinner!  5:30-7:30 p.m.

Entire Waimea Middle School and Community Invited! 

(Mahalo to all who attended & contributed to our first two Super Kitchen dinners in June and September!) 

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A Warm Mahalo To Everyone Who Attended and Contributed To

The 7TH Annual Mala'ai ‘ART & SOL’ Auction-Benefit!

Mala’ai’s ‘Art & Sol’ Benefit Auction Sun., April 13 Provides A Delicious Excuse To Indulge In Rare Pleasures

When America’s culinary superstars from national television and the James Beard Foundation come to Waimea Middle School’s Mala’ai garden to teach cooking fundamentals to excite students about culinary careers, you can bet what students remember most is how delicious the class was.

One of the most memorable tastings during the recent visit to Mala’ai by James Beard’s celebrity chefs was provided by nationally famous mixologist Manny Hinojosa, who put students to work creating a “mocktail” – a non-alcoholic drink made from scratch with fresh ingredients, mostly from their school garden. He then taught students how to serve their creative blend of fruits and herbs in beautiful stemmed glassware edged with sugar crystals. Suffice it to say, the student “mocktails” were visually stunning and mouth watering, yet healthy, leaving students wanting more.

It’s not surprising that Manny’s famous for his exotically delicious from-scratch beverages and he has now agreed to share this tasting experience during a real cocktail party for the winning bidder and 15 guests at Mala’ai school garden’s 7th Annual Art & Sol benefit auction from 12:30-3 p.m., Sun., April 13 at Waimea’s Merriman’s Restaurant. 

Manny is donating his time and Mala’ai will gather the ingredients for what will be a rare opportunity to have a celebrity mixologist crafting drinks for your own private party. 

There are many other rare pleasures being offered during Mala’ai’s Art & Sol benefit including:   

·         Kapa by Waimea master Roen Hufford;

·         An exquisite Curly Koa Rocking Chair and Paddle by master furniture builder-wood worker Stan Gollaher of Raiatea Woodworks in Pa’auilo; 

·         An 8’x3.5’ giclee of an extraordinary sunrise photograph capturing a sun-drenched pu’u atop Mauna Kea casting its “shadow” on the distant horizon as captured by Canada-France-Hawai’i Telescope astronomers;

·         A Private Sunset Sail on a 55’ Ketch;

·         Gourmet Locavore Feasts by Private Chefs with Wine Pairings;

·         Farmer Charles Oldfather and three handsome savvy gardener friends building a raised garden bed for your home;

·         Fresh Fruit or Vegetable Baskets, certificates for restaurants, facials, massages and more.  

All proceeds go towards supporting healthy choices and making life-long learners out of our keiki and community. Art & Sol tickets are $50 per person and may be purchased via PayPal at For more information, contact Alethea Lai, (808-989-7861). 

All auction items have been donated by a Hawai’i Island artists or patrons to support Mala’ai. 

Art & Sol will include delicious Merriman’s garden and farm fresh pupu paired with wine or a signature garden cocktail.

Auctioneer for the event will be Pat Batchelder of Waimea. 

For more information on the exceptional list of auction items offered and to get your ticket today, go to

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Mala'ai Farm Stand Continues Thru April 23 

Wednesdays - 1:15-3 p.m.

Everyone invited to purchase beautiful produce, herbs and flowers grown in our garden by WMS students!  Very reasonable prices, too! 

Click on this link to view a Front Page news feature on Mala'ai's Farm Stand 
by West Hawai'i Today reporter Carolyn Lucas Zenk, with photos by Anna Pacheco:  

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Mahalo To Both Cable One and Kamehameha Schools 'Aina Ulu Program Staff For Your Kokua in the Garden This Past Week!  

(Please come again!)

Mahalo, too, to all of our community friends who volunteered to assist with these work days -- you are awesome and the garden is looking so beautiful!  

Kamehameha Schools 'Aina Ulu Lahui - Photo by Bekah Horne 

Something Special Cooking at the Mala'ai Garden!  

Check this out -- connecting our students to the worldwide voyage of the Hokule'a, 

Hikianali'a and Makali'i!

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Delicious Pleasures & Treasures Could Be Yours At Mala’ai ‘Art & Sol’ Auction June 2

Our Mala’ai School Garden is almost entirely funded by our community -- through donations, grants and special events, some of which are free friend-raisers, and some are all about fundraising.  Highlight of Mala’ai’s annual fundraising calendar is its annual “Art & Sol” Benefit Auction from 12:30-3 p.m., Sun., June 2 at Merriman’s

Generous community friends who support student-community health and who value the garden’s connectedness to hands-on learning have donated many delicious pleasures and treasures for this year’s auction!  Everyone is invited.  Tickets are $50 per person and may be purchased via PayPal at, or calling Mala’ai Executive Director Alethea Lai (989-7861). 

Among the treasures in this year’s “live” and silent auction are:

· A breathtaking kapa by master artist Roen Hufford and original native hardwood and stained glass pieces by island artisans

· A stunning 8’x4’ mural photograph of snow-capped pu’u atop Mauna Kea, taken by CFHT’s high powered camera

· An Escorted Private Tour for Four of Keck Observatory

· Creation and installation of a custom “water feature” for a home or business by Kai Pono Builders

· A Private Sail on a 55’ Ketch and golf at Hualalai Resort

· Gourmet Locavore Feasts by Private Chefs Maria Peterson and Dan Bobo, Paired with vintage wines

· A Waimea farm-fresh vegetarian dinner for 6-8 friends by our Principal’s wife and he will be the wait help and dish washer!

· A Meditation Walk to reconnect with nature in ‘Iole land                  division of North Kohala, and a day hike, waterfall swim and lunch along Waipi’o Valley rim.

· Farmer Charles Oldfather and friends building a raised garden for your home

· A koa-framed, signed “Paniolo” blockprint by Hawai’i’s revered turn-of-the-century artist Juliette May Fraser

· A large Ethan Tweedie giclee on canvas photograph of one of the waterfall that cascades into Anna Pond.

· A healthy, grass-fed 800-pound steer (approx. 400 pounds of grass-fed beef).  Mahalo to all who support Mala’ai Garden!


Mala'ai's Weekly 'Farm Stand' Concludes for the Year - Mahalo To All Who Contributed & Supported This Great Student-Led Project

For the next six Wednesdays, beginning March 6, 2013, from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m., the Waimea community is invited back to Mala’ai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School for a weekly student-run “Farm Stand.”   Located in the back -- or south side -- of the school campus near the entry to the ¾-acre organic Mala’ai learning garden, the Farm Stand will offer a variety of fresh produce – most of which is grown by students.    Produce offered for sale will include a variety of leafy greens, kabocha squash, potatoes, herbs, organic eggs and cut flowers, as available.  There may also be some produce donated by local farmers.  The Farm Stand was conceived to provide students with the real experience of growing, harvesting, cleaning and preparing produce to sell, and then handling sales and learning all the steps and entrepreneurial skills required to manage a small business. Funds raised will be used by 6th-8th grade middle school students for a specific project to enhance their outdoor garden classroom.  For more information, go to, or call Alethea Lai (989-7861) or email: 

Note: The week of March 18-22 is Spring break, so the Farm Stand will not be offered.  

Deliciously Free School-Community Workshops Hosted By Mala'ai School Garden:  9 a.m. – Noon on 4 Saturdays.

Entire school-community invited but RSVP requested please:  Donations welcome.  Made possible thanks to a Richard Smart Fund/Hawai’i Community Foundation grant.
· Feb. 23 – Cooking From Our Island Garden.  Featuring Chef Maria Peterson and Chef Dan Bobo with his wife Clare. Come to Mala`ai to harvest and cook from the garden.  Tastings will be offered -- a wonderful opportunity to learn how to make some yummy food straight from your garden or the Farmer’s Market.
· March16 - Worm Composting for Delicious Home Produce.  Join
Norman Arancon for a fascinating educational look at vermiculture (worm composting). It’s easy and fun and this simple activity will help you grow dream vegetables!
· April 20 - Herb Gardening Basics.  Come and learn from Amanda Rieux, our Program Director, about how to grow both classic and traditional Hawaiian herbs. Growing herbs is easy and nothing enhances your cooking like freshly harvested herbs!
· May 18 - Garden Tour of Waimea.  Explore from the “wet side” to the “dry side” and be inspired by what is possible in your own backyard! Meet at Mala`ai and then caravan around town.

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Mala'ai: The Culinary Garden at Waimea Middle School


Mala’ai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea

Middle School cultivates the relationship

between students and the land through

growing and sharing nourishing food in our

outdoor living classroom. Our work reaches

beyond the boundaries of our garden

connecting land stewardship, culture, health

and pleasure with lifelong learning.

                              -- Adopted August 2011


Generosity of Spirit, Integrity, Sustainability, Beauty, Harmony,
Connectedness, Appreciation and Respect.

Mother Earth has responded to the care our students and community partners have poured into our Mala'ai garden.  With the help of more than 2,000 pairs of hands, our garden produced more than 4,500 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables during 2011!

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Ku 'Aina Pa Intensive Teacher Training -- Summer 2012

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Mahalo to Everyone Who Participated and Contributed

To Mala'ai's 2012 'Art & Sol' Summer Solstice

Benefit Auction June 11 at Merriman's! 

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Take-Nothing-For-Granted ‘Lesson’ Translates Into Community Invitation To Support Mala’ai Garden at ‘Art & Sol’ Benefit Auction

Take nothing for granted:  This is a sobering “lesson” taken from the unexpected ‘intermission’ announced last week by Waimea’s Kahilu Theatre.    

“If we cherish something – we must do our part to support it.”  This bit of wisdom comes from Mala’ai School Garden’s non-profit board chair Vivienne Aronowitz, whose “day-job” as a nutritionist explains some of why she is personally so passionate about dedicating time, talent and treasure to Waimea’s model school garden.    

“Mala’ai school garden depends entirely on community generosity, and this coming Sunday’s Mala’ai ‘Art & Sol’ Summer Solstice Auction at Merriman’s Restaurant is an opportunity to support something this community started and cherishes,” said Aronowitz. 

Tickets for the auction – featuring a wide array of nifty-thrifty to over-the-top items donated by friends of the garden -- are available online at, or by calling Alethea Lai (989-7861).  Tickets for the 1:30-3 p.m. auction are $50 and include delicious Merriman’s pupu featuring foods and herbs grown in the garden paired with vintage wines. 

Auction items, which are as diverse as the reasons this community helped start Mala’ai eight years ago, include: 

·         A small hand-painted pottery bowl dated to about 1812-1850 from the Chinese Tao Kuang period.  The bowl was a wedding present from Mrs. Walter Dillingham (a Cooke) – a collector of prized Asian pottery.   

·         A tour of Big Island Brewhaus’ Waimea microbrewery plus tasting of hand-crafted beers with six friends.  

·         Two nights at a Wailea Bay beach house. 

·         Stargazing atop Mauna Kea with a Canada-France-Hawai’i Telescope astronomer. 

·         A group hike led by Hugh Montgomery along the rim of Waipi’o Valley.

·         Golf for 4 at Hualalai plus a lunch gift certificate.

·         An overnight stay at Mauna Kea for two plus tour of the Laurance Rockefeller art collection and brunch for 6. 

·         Privately catered dinners by exceptional chefs include Island Thyme Gourmet’s Chef Dan and Claire Bobo and Chef Olelo pa'a Ogawa of Glow Hawai’i, gardening consultations by green-thumb experts, plus beautiful-to-whimsical prints to one-of-a-kind glass art by celebrated Hawai’i artists.

Dozens of silent auction items promise something for everyone -- including bags of Bokashi soil enhancer, baskets of heirloom tomatoes or juicy ripe mangoes, personal beauty care services, hand-made scarves and other accessories, and even a super-practical wheelbarrow decorated by Waimea artist Archie Macareg that includes a “mini-portrait” of his pet pug and favorite mynah birds.   

Mala’ai was started by a cadre of Waimea residents to address school-community health and wellness with hands-on learning of environmental and cultural stewardship and the simple pleasure of hard work producing delicious fresh food.  To date, more than 2,000 Waimea Middle School students and many community volunteers have participated in creating and nurturing Mala’ai’s ¾-acre organic garden that last year alone produced more than 4,500 pounds of produce to be shared with students, families and community. 

Dozens of community members volunteer more than 80 hours a week year round to support Mala’ai, and many others contribute funding, plants, materials and other services.

For more information about Mala’ai, and for “Art & Sol” auction tickets, go to, or call Alethea Lai (989-7861). 

Rare Kapa Honors Artist's Pure Hawaiian Moloka'io Grandmother

Creating this extraordinary piece of kapa with its stiffness, heavy water markings and bright purple color stirred up memories for Waimea kapa master Roen Hufford of her grandmother.  As Roen worked on making the kapa, she and her mother, Marie McDonald, chatted about what her pure Hawaiian grandmother, the late Etelka Mahoe, would think of their kapa making and dedication to preserving the ancient Hawaiian art – and also what tutu would think of this particular piece.  Roen remembers her grandmother well from when growing up on Moloka’i.  She especially remembers her tutu doing the laundry – making a thick starch in a beaten up aluminum pan and dipping clothing in the starch and hanging the items to dry, then sprinkling the clothing lightly with water from a soda bottle and rolling the items up tightly, then opening them up and ironing them.  The stiffness of this piece of kapa is perfect for recalling her who ironed everything to a stiff finish!  Roen said “they’re happy memories of a long time ago when domestic arts were more important.”  She also remembers that her grandmother had a circle of friends who called themselves, “Hui Lokahi O Moloka’i” – the group that takes care of Moloka’i.  They did many service projects together and then they had fun, playing kamau (a card game like Trumps), speaking only in Hawaiian and eating crack seed.  “We kids weren’t allowed to speak Hawaiian, but we heard them talking.  We really didn’t know what they were saying, but years later, when Roen and her mom took a night class at the UH, they realized that they had sort of understood the drift of their conversations, and with classes, they learned more precisely what their tutu had been saying.  Exactly how did Roen make the bright purple natural dye?  She used the skins of the Jaboticaba fruit, but she and her mom, Marie, discovered that the color is more brilliant if you remove (or eat away) the flesh of the fruit and just use the skins…which is exactly what they did!  This remarkable piece of kapa will be on the auction block at the Mala’ai school garden “Art & Sol” Summer solstice auction on Sun., June 10, 2012 at Merriman’s restaurant.   
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West Hawai'i Today -
May 10, 2012(Front Page)

Resort’s pasta dish fundraiser supports Waimea Middle School garden

><p>Waimea Middle School students form dough into small dumplings, or gnocchi, under the instruction of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Executive Sous Chef Nick Mastrascusa Wednesday morning at Malaai, the school’s culinary garden. (Anna Pacheco/Special to West Hawaii Today)</p>
Waimea Middle School students form dough into small dumplings, or gnocchi, under the instruction of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Executive Sous Chef Nick Mastrascusa Wednesday morning at Malaai, the school’s culinary garden. (Anna Pacheco/Special to West Hawaii Today)

><p>Eighth-grader Kate McGuiness pours flour into the sweet potato mixture as Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Executive Sous Chef Nick Mastrascusa and eighth-grader Zaxsalyn Guerpo look on Wednesday morning at Malaai, Waimea Middle School’s culinary garden. (Anna Pacheco/Special to West Hawaii Today)</p>
Eighth-grader Kate McGuiness pours flour into the sweet potato mixture as Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Executive Sous Chef Nick Mastrascusa and eighth-grader Zaxsalyn Guerpo look on Wednesday morning at Malaai, Waimea Middle School’s culinary garden. (Anna Pacheco/Special to West Hawaii Today)

By Carolyn Lucas-Zenk
West Hawaii Today

It wasn’t just herbs and vegetables that grew Wednesday morning at Malaai, Waimea Middle School’s culinary garden.

Inspiration, excitement and community spirit kept popping up during the roughly two-hour interactive cooking demonstration led by Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Executive Sous Chef Nick Mastrascusa and his culinary team. They taught 25 eighth-graders in Kara Onaka-Winters’ business class how to make sweet potato gnocchi with Hawaii Island brown butter and sage — a dish that will be on the menu sometime this month as a special fundraiser at the resort’s Beach Tree restaurant.

Beach Tree General Manager Chuck Wilson said all revenue collected from the sale of this dish over three days would go to Malaai. A local and sustainable cuisine proponent, the resort hopes to contribute more than $1,500 at the fundraiser’s end.

“We love food and are inspired by those who love food,” Mastrascusa said. “Supporting a hands-on learning program that teaches kids how to plant and harvest produce and care for laying hens is dear to us. The simple explanation is: It just makes sense. Not only do we hope to be an inspiration to the students, they and this garden are an inspiration to us.”

This is the second time Mastrascusa and his team have demonstrated cooking techniques and recipes at Waimea Middle, as well as held a fundraiser at the Beach Tree for Malaai. Last year’s salad dish generated $830 for the organic garden, said Malaai Executive Director Alethea Lai.

“Donations help sustain our program, making sure it keeps going with a good, capable staff and we can purchase the materials or tools needed,” said Amanda Rieux, program director and garden teacher.

“Experiences like this one with the chef really expose our students to different ways to earn a livelihood and really drive home the garden-to-table concept. It encourages them to cultivate relationships with the land and others in their community who are passionate about what they do. It also stresses the importance of growing, sharing and making choices pertaining to healthy, nutritious food.”

Founded in 2003 and operating since 2005, Malaai is a private, nonprofit program funded from donations and grants. It was created to address the disconnection between children living in today’s fast-paced, consumer-oriented society and their lack of awareness of food origins and production.
Waimea Middle supplies the land, water and students, who are engaged in various outdoor physical and academic activities that teach how to plant, harvest and cook nutritional foods, said Patti Cook, the school’s spokeswoman.

Approximately 4,500 pounds of food was harvested last year from the 0.75-acre garden. The food is used at the school, but also regularly shared with students’ families, Village Burger and the community via farmers markets, Cook said.

Fourteen-year-old Kate McGuiness thought it was “cool and amazing” a private resort chose to raise money for an important program that helps students like her understand the origins of their food, as well as how the food they eat impacts their bodies and the world around them. She said their fundraiser not only furthers the purpose of getting healthier foods into schools, but also raises the public’s awareness about eating healthy, fresh foods daily and supporting healthy food systems like school gardens and farms. She would like the money raised to go toward making Malaai’s outdoor kitchen even bigger and better.

Gnocchi are small, fork-tine-indented potato dumplings. Mixed with style, attitude and a foreign accent, so what if gnocchi literally means “little lumps” and could be described as elevated mashed potatoes? Mastrascusa prefers the description “little pillows of heaven.”

Growing up in Italy and Uruguay, Mastrascusa has been eating gnocchi his entire life. He said it is a tradition for Italians to gather on the 29th of the month and eat gnocchi together. It’s a way to celebrate an otherwise dreary time of the month, the last days before payday, for households that may have or were about to run out of money. Whatever pocket money remained was placed under plates of diners, who always left the table happy and full.

The recipe Mastrascusa shared with the students was a rendition of his grandmother’s potato gnocchi. The ingredients were simple: roasted sweet potatoes, flour, eggs, butter, sage, Parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Approximately 20 pounds of sweet potatoes, sage and a dozen eggs from the garden were given to the resort for its fundraiser. These student-produced items were used during Wednesday’s demonstration, which proved how great slow cooking and humble eating can be.

Students learned how to properly peel the roasted skin of potatoes, crack open an egg with a knife, operate a ricer and add the proper amount of salt to make pasta water taste like the ocean. They also learned it takes patience, dashed with a little humor, to mold the plump pillows into something that’s slightly moist, warm, fluffy and delicate, but doesn’t stick to the hands.

Constant encouragement could be heard, punctuated by floured high-fives exchanged during the activity.

For 14-year-old Markell Marquez, the best part of the demonstration was interacting with Mastrascusa and his team. She said they helped give her more confidence to pursue a culinary industry career. Since the fifth grade, she has wanted to become a chef.

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Look Who Visited Our Mala’ai Garden!

Yes, that’s Jack Johnson -- best known for his gifted musical talent and recordings -- but who is also becoming known for environmental advocacy and support for Hawai’i’s rapidly growing school garden movement.  Johnson was in Waimea as the headliner in an all-acoustic performance with John Cruz and Paula Fuga Saturday evening at Kahilu Theatre to raise funds to support Kokua Foundation’s environmental education programs, which include school gardens.  He spent the morning with about 50 community friends touring our Mala’ai school garden as the final stop on The Kohala Center’s month-long, 15-garden tour.  Visitors were welcomed to Mala’ai by Garden Leader Amanda Rieux, Mala’ai Executive Director Alethea Lai, and 8th grade student Kiera Foster, shown here beaming with her favorite entertainer!  Also welcoming the guests were Mala’ai’s cadre of community volunteers, interns and board members -- all eager to share Mala’ai’s story about hands-on student learning by caring for the earth and, in the process, producing more than 4,500 pounds of healthy food this past year.  We thank The Kohala Center, Kokua Foundation, our many community volunteers and donors including Jack and Kim Johnson for their dedication to supporting our students, families and entire community’s health and wellness.   

To read more about The Kohala Center's school garden tours, click here:

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Please Join Us!

5th Annual 'Art & Sol' Mala'ai Summer Solstice

Benefit Auction! 

1-3:30 p.m., Sun., June 10 - Merriman's Restaurant

A deliciously tempting way to support our ¾-acre learning garden which contributes to the health and wellness of both Waimea Middle School’s 6th-8th graders and the entire community.  Tickets $50 for delicious Merriman’s pupu paired with wines.  Always some of the most

coveted art pieces including traditional Hawaiian kapa, original paintings, stained glass, hand-made jewelry, beautiful baskets of the best-of-Waimea fresh produce, a one-of-a-kind experiences, celebrity chef dinners, and for the first-time, a classic gardener’s wheelbarrow hand painted by a celebrity artist!  Info and to purchase tickets, go to, or call Alethea Lai (989-7861).  

WMS Students paint their very first wheelbarrow!

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'Ku 'Aina Pa' - A 6-Credit Hawai'i School Garden Teacher Training & Certification Course

Mala’ai: Continuing to Lead the Way In Hawai’i's School Garden Movement 

School gardens are not a new idea in Hawai’i.  In fact, old timers in Waimea and elsewhere – especially in rural agricultural communities - recall gardens in schools in the 40s and 50s.  But the world has changed and schools face hard decisions around meeting federal No Child Left Behind educational mandates to raise reading and computing competencies, dealing with drastic funding cuts, and still educating the next generation about sustainability and making healthier food and lifestyle choices for themselves and the planet – in the face of an obesity epidemic and extreme over-dependence on imported food.

Few schools are as fortunate as Waimea Middle to have such an advanced school garden program that combines master teaching, horticultural and environmental wisdom and community support including funding.  Recognizing Mala’ai as the leader it is, The Kohala Center recently received an impressive USDA/SPECA “Ag In The Classroom K-12” grant for the Hawai’i Island School Garden Network, which will present an intense new School Garden Teacher Training and Certification Course.  The pilot course – called “Ku ‘Aina Pa,” will begin June 2012 and continue to June 2013. 

Helping design and lead the course is Mala’ai’s Garden Leader Amanda Rieux, who is working in partnership with TKC’s Nancy Redfeather, Ming Wei Koh and Betsy Cole.

The training is designed to strengthen skills and educational knowledge and work with the deep connections that exist between human, ecosystem, and community health.  The course is designed to provide Pre-K-8 educators with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully plan, develop and sustain Learning Gardens at schools.

The course will build upon practicing and connecting the following ideas:

• Principles of Sustainability

• Whole Systems Thinking

• STEM concepts in the School Learning Garden

• Nutrition: Seed to Seed

• Creating Sustainable Programs and Community Partnerships

• Best Practices of Organic Gardening Systems

• Teacher Toolbox for Working with Children in the Outdoor Classroom

• Creating Place-Based and Experiential Learning Experiences for Students

• Linking School Gardens to Core Curriculum: Developing Lesson Plans

Limited to 20 participants, the class is already full.  But to read more about it, go to:

We are honored to be a part of this exciting pilot project to significantly raise the bar on teaching and learning in school gardens throughout Hawai’i. 

There Are Many Lessons Learned In Our Garden!

National Celebrity Chefs Cook With Students in Our Mala'ai Garden! 

From Rare Kapa to Elegant Catering...from 5 Laying Hens To Fruit Trees & Wheelbarrows

Community Invited To Touch Lives Via First Online Auction For Mala'ai

A rare pair of authentic pieces of Hawaiian kapa -- hand-pounded and hand-painted by native Hawaiian artist Roen Hufford -- pieces that any indigenous arts museum or collector in the world would covet. 

An elegant privately catered dinner for eight by classically trained Chef Dan Bobo and his lovely wife, Clare, whose catering business – Island Thyme Gourmet – is known for custom menus with a unique island flare tailored to the client’s tastes. 

A prized Edwin Kayton original oil portrait of a young Hawaiian wahine (woman) and an exotic Calley O’Neil portrait of a kane (man). 

Five laying hens, three fruit trees and several wheelbarrows to be decorated by student artists – gifts not to send but to contribute in the name of a loved one to touch student lives by helping to sustain one of the lead school gardens in the Western U.S. 

These are just a sampling of unusual treasures and pleasures that will be offered in a first-ever  online auction targeted for Christmas gift giving to support Mala’ai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School.  Rooted in the earth, and focusing on pa’ahana (hard, industrious work), Mala’ai started out as a dream in a field of kikuyu grass at the back door of Hawai’i’s first public conversion charter school on the Big Island.  Today, Mala’ai is a beautiful, productive ¾-acre organic garden classroom that reflects the handiwork of over 1,500 pairs of student hands and many more community friends.  

Mala’ai’s mission is clear:  to cultivate the relationship between students and the land through growing and sharing nourishing food in our outdoor living classroom.  Our work reaches beyond the boundaries of our garden connecting land stewardship, culture, health and pleasure with lifelong learning.

Taking a page out of eBay Giving Works’ philosophy – that “Each of us can make a difference for all of us,” and that “we have the power to touch many lives by the choices we make,” Mala’ai’s cadre of volunteers invites friends of the garden and those who simply believe in the power of self reliance and innovative experiential learning to check out the online auction.

All items will be available December 1-10, 2011 on Ebay’s Giving Works; just search for Mala`ai. 

For more information about the Mala’ai school garden, go to  For questions about the auction or otherwise getting involved in supporting the school garden program, contact Executive Director Alethea Lai, or call 808-989-7861.

Mahalo, Everyone, For Successful Culinary Garage Sale!

It was a beautiful, sunny day at the Waimea Homestead Farmers Market -- and a win-win-win -- so many wonderful kitchen and garden treasures at extremely reasonable prices!  A very warm mahalo especially to:
  • Slow Food Hawai'i
  • Waimea Homestead Farmers Market
  • Our Mala'ai Board & Volunteers
  • North Hawai'i Rotary Volunteers
  • Donors & Buyers!
Special thanks to Jeanne Oshima & Clare Bobo for leading this pleasurable, mission-driven event! 

Come Early For The Best Bargains! 

Clever Gadgets, Heart-Tugging Treasures, Great Bargains At Waimea’s 3rd ‘Culinary & Gardening Garage Sale’ Sat., Aug. 27, 2011 Benefiting Mala’ai School Garden  

Clever gadgets, heart-tugging treasures and great bargains will be among the finds offered during Waimea’s 3rd “Culinary and Garden Garage Sale,” beginning at 7 a.m., this Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Waimea Homestead Farmers’ Market on the lawn at Kuhio Hale (Hawaiian Homes Hall). 

Great finds donated to the garage sale include such clever gadgets as “a lawn shark” (a tool that looks like a serrated-edge pie cutter on a long handle for edging sod), a “garden weasel” (a miniature hand cultivator for working up soil), and a “hula hoe” (a tool that looks like rotating spurs on a long wooden handle, used to hand-till soil).  These were donated by master “green thumb” Erin Lee, who is the Director of Landscape at Hualalai Resort, and co-owner-operator of Waimea’s Lokelani Gardens, which is known for its superb vine-ripened tomatoes. 

Heart-tuggers in the sale which benefits Mala’ai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School, were donated by the family of the late Nan Pi’ianaia, who was both an exceptional culinary authority and a dedicated supporter of Mala’ai and the entire school garden movement. 

Also included in the growing list of treasures are a wide array of cookbooks from the shelves of many of Waimea’s best cooks plus culinary collectibles such as a plantation-era sieve, beautiful serving platters, dishes and glassware, linens and contemporary kitchen appliances and garden equipment.   

Sponsored by Slow Food Hawai’i with kokua from the Waimea Homestead Farmers’ Market, the fundraiser will support the now seven-year-old Mala’ai school garden, which has become a statewide model for hands-on, experiential learning focused on growing and sharing fresh, organic produce and, in the process, supporting student and community health, wellness, environmental and cultural stewardship and academic progress. 

The Aug. 27 sale will be under a large tent at the Waimea Homestead Farmers Market. 

Donations are still welcome.  Please drop them off at Waimea Middle School’s office or call Slow Food Hawai’i Leader Clare Bobo (936-6511) or Mala’ai school garden Board member Jeanne Oshima (887-1027). 

Slow Food Hawai’i has helped underwrite and support Mala’ai since it was founded nearly eight years ago by Dr. Michelle Suber, a Waimea physician. This ¾-acre organic garden classroom provides 6th, 7th and 8th grade public school students with the transformative experience of working with the earth to grow nourishing food, and to experience the pleasure of preparing and sharing that food.  Integrated into the garden experience is a wide range of curriculum including language arts, math, science, social studies, technology and cultural learning and values.

Mala’ai is a private not-for-profit partnership with Waimea Middle School and is almost entirely funded by community generosity through donations, grants, endowments, events and, quite recently, the sale of student-grown herbs to Waimea restaurants at and the Homestead Farmers Market.  Fundraisers such as the Culinary and Garden Garage Sale are essential to keep the garden serving the students and families of Waimea Middle School as well as the wider community.  Financial contributions, tools, equipment and time spent in the garden and assisting with fundraising are all needed and appreciated.  All donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.


PHOTO CAPTION:  Waimea Middle School 7th graders (L-R) Keiko, Shawnacee and Roilyn, help gather up culinary treasures donated for this Saturday’s 3rd “Culinary & Gardening Garage Sale” to benefit Mala’ai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School. 

A very warm mahalo to everyone who has contributed to and participates in this fundraiser for Mala'ai!  

Mahalo, too, to everyone who helped create, staff and contribute to our Weekly Crop Share, especially Assistant Garden Teacher Nicole Milne and The Kohala Center.  This project is now completed! 

2011 Mala'ai 'Art & Sol' Benefit Art Auction

Sunday, June 12, 2011 - Merriman's Restaurant

A delicious way to celebrate the coming summer solstice with friends and bid on extraordinary art and collectibles from kapa masters, wood workers, stained glass artisans and more -- as well as "a day with a gardener" and lovely private dinners featuring locally grown and harvested delicacies! 

Go to for more details. 

Patti Cook,
Feb 22, 2011, 4:26 PM
Patti Cook,
Feb 22, 2011, 4:28 PM
Patti Cook,
Feb 22, 2011, 4:28 PM