Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Impressive Community Garden in Hawaii

As our family has done several times in the past, we recently stopped in Honolulu for a few days while on our way to the mainland United States. It was nice to visit old haunts such as Hanauma Bay and the Foster Botanical Garden.

One day while exploring behind Waikiki's Kapiolani Park I came across a new site; the Diamond Head Community Garden. I've visited quite a few community gardens but the Diamond Head collective stands out, partly due to the abundance of well tended plots (roughly 1 x 2 meters). What's most impressive is the enormous variety of plants found throughout the garden. Compared to other community gardens in the US, Diamond Head has the tropical advantage.

Of course, vegetables, herbs and a few types of fruit, such as papaya, make up the bulk of the plantings. But the garden species diversity includes a large mixture of Asian and Pacific island crops planted along with conventional American garden varieties. For example, among cherry tomatoes and Swiss chard were also bitter melon,Malabar spinach and false roselle (perhaps from ECHO?). I even encountered one plot planted exclusively in cassava and another covered with tropical vegetable fern. And, as expected, a good bid of Hawaiian taro was encountered as well.

Apparently, plots in this garden are in high demand as there was no ground left idle. A yearly rental fee (someone said $20) provides access to a plot and water. Not a bad deal.

Compost heaps could be found within the garden. And the personal decorative flourishes (including colorful bottles, pinwheels and other knickknacks) on display throughout the plots were as interesting as the plant biodiversity.

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