Gardens with taro, native Hawaiian plants, ferns and orchids will bloom this summer at U.S. Department of Agriculture offices on Kauai and Molokai.
The gardens will give USDA employees and volunteers a chance to practice and demonstrate sustainable gardening through the creation of "People’s Gardens."
"The idea is to give people an idea of what we as an agency do," said Kawika Duvauchelle, a USDA natural resource specialist on Molokai.
Duvauchelle said the garden on Molokai will incorporate native a’ali’i shrubs for wind breaks, green manure cover crops and the use of mulch to demonstrate conservation practices. Products from the Molokai garden will be donated to swap meets and community events.
The Plant Materials Center in Molokai will be working with the Molokai UH Extension Service, USDA NRCS Field Office, Molokai/Lanai Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Molokai High School Environmental Preservation Organization to create the garden.
USDA staff in Lihue are working with the Farm Services Agency, the Natural Resource Conservation Center, and Rural Development to plan the planting of their "Aloha Garden" this summer. The garden will be in the center courtyard in the main Service Center at 4334 Rice St. The garden will include ferns, a nursery, orchid plants, palm trees and native plants that attract pollinating insects.
Volunteers will begin by adding potted plants and flowering orchids donated by a local senior citizen’s nursery to the existing Lihue office central courtyard.
USDA state executive director Diane Ley said that USDA workers will volunteer their lunch breaks and off hours to maintain the garden.
"For many people, when they enter a place they notice the greenery and the flowers," Ley said. "It’s more inviting, more uplifting and more refreshing."
Staff will be working with existing on-site resources, making personal contributions and working with community groups to gather the necessary resources for the gardens, Ley said.
The "People’s Garden" movement was started in Washington, D.C., by USDA secretary Tom Vilsack a year ago to demonstrate conservation practices that can be implemented in any home garden.
Vilsack said that there are more than 400 "People’s Gardens" in every state, American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, and in three foreign countries.
Duvauchelle said Molokai staff are creating a 40-foot by 60-foot garden for kalo and pollinator plants. But before planting anything, he said he would like to hear more input from the community on how the garden should be operated.
"We don’t want to tell people what to do and where things should go," said Duvauchelle. "We want everyone to take ownership."
While most of the organization and labor for creating the gardens will be internal, "anyone is welcome to volunteer," said Duvauchelle.
Lihue residents can get involved with their "People’s Garden" by contacting the USDA office at 294-9014. Residents on Molokai can get involved by contacting the Plant Materials Center at 567-6885.