School Garden

Kōkua Always Welcome!  

Check out this news feature on our Mala’ai School Garden and it’s work to support the Hawai’i Island School Garden Network (HISGN) and Ku ‘Aina Pa (PD for 200+ K-8 educators) to integrate garden experiences with core curriculum:

Mahalo feature writer Fern Gavelek and all of the thousands of hands and hearts who planted the vision, and then helped nurture this amazing learning experience for our entire school-community!  

Welcome to Mālaʻai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School. We are a one acre organic outdoor living classroom.  Mālaʻai is a model garden in the State, and an important part of our work is growing a community around healthy delicious local food, learning in and from nature, and taking care of ourselves and the land.  

Our mission: Mālaʻai 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.

Mālaʻai is a private 501(c)3 that works in partnership with the school.  All WMS students participate in garden classes throughout the course of the year -- primarily connected to science, PE and Health, but teachers are invited to the garden to connect other subjects - math, reading, social studies and 'Ike Hawai'i cultural learning with hands-on garden lessons. Dozens of community volunteers support the garden in a variety of ways -- from mentoring students and supporting classes, to helping with fundraising and improvements. 

As a school, we are indebted to the founders and staff of Mālaʻai and the wider community for the inspiration to start this garden and keep it thriving!  Mālaʻai is continuously working closely with Nā Kālai Waʻa, The Kohala Center, the Hawaiʻi School Garden Network, the DOE Office of Hawaiian Education, Kamehameha Schools and other community partners to strengthen the connection between hands-on learning and the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), to "grow" garden teachers and place-based curriculum.

For more information:  

To hear students share what they love about Mala'ai: Connecting Food, Land & People | Growing School Gardens 

This video clip is part of a Coast-to-Coast video tour of school gardens that aired nationally April 27, 2021.  Mala'ai was the only school garden in Hawai'i to be featured!   


Mala'ai was featured in a first ever Coast-to-Coast virtual tour that spotlighted six school gardens from here to Washington, D.C.! Here is a short video clip from the virtual tour that features our students and teacher team including Miss Holly, Miss Zoe and Miss Amanda. The students voices and perspectives are pure "chicken skin."

Thank you to videographer Lynn Beittel for capturing the essence of this outdoor learning experience, and to ALL of the faculty-staff, families and community partners who have made Mala'ai possible for our students thru the past 16+ years. It's magic - it's fun and delicious, and it's real and relevant life-long learning!

Students gather data to study the impact of sunshine on the growth of plants.

Students learn & growing in our outdoor "living" classroom: 

A GREAT BEGINNING IN OUR MĀLAʻAI SCHOOL GARDEN FOR OUR NEW 6TH GRADERS!  It's become a Mālaʻai "tradition" to introduce incoming 6th graders to the garden with a series of classes on Kalo -- from the moʻolelo (traditional stories) and ʻoli (chants) to the protocols surrounding cultivating and eating kalo. Assisting with these lessons has been cultural practitioner Lanakila Mangauil - pictured here with students. In coming weeks students will be harvesting many of Mālaʻai's kalo beds, tasting different varieties and also sharing the wealth with our school community. Mahalo Lanakila and all who have contributed huli to Mālaʻai over the years! -- Photos courtesy of Holly Sargeant-Green

Most garden classes end with a sampling of garden pleasures cultivated and then prepared by students - for students!