Transform an area on a campus that is covered with invasive weeds and transform it into a an edible garden that can be used to grow mai`a (a native banana plant) for students that cannot afford to buy a cafeteria lunch.

Help us promote the growing of Banana Mandala gardens in K-12 schools and colleges.

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Lucie Wilson Taie

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Banana Mandala Garden

Transform an area ion your yard or on a campus that is covered with invasive weeds and transform it into a an edible garden that can be used to grow mai`a (a native banana plant) for students that cannot afford to buy a cafeteria lunch.


Number of students: 50

Grade Level(s): 9-12

Subject area(s) Environmental Resource Management, Building and Construction, School Green Team, Student Body Government (SBG)

Needs Assessment (Describe needs that will be addressed by this project and provide supporting data.)

Many students are unable to pay for a school lunch and may go hungry during their classes which causes them to lose focus and interest.

It is ironic that many schools are surrounded by farms, but almost all of the school’s cafeteria food is imported from outside of the state and consists mostly of unhealthy processed, GMO food. It is sad for schools to be surrounded by farms that grow fresh produce that students are unable consume. Many of our local farms export their produce to the mainland instead of in our community.

Scope of Work (Describe how this project will address needs and Excite, Engage and Educate students. What are the objectives of this project and the activities that will be conducted to meet those objectives? What will be taught and what will be learned? What is innovative or unique about what will be done? What is the timeline that will be followed? Are there organizations or partners who are involved in this project and what is their role? How will proposed purchases support project activities and meeting objectives?)

  • Our objective is to start a ‘Farm to School’ program using an edible garden that will provide free organic and healthy bananas for students to eat who cannot afford a school lunch.
  • Our banana garden will excite students since the project is an innovative idea that can help their fellow students year-round on our own campus.
  • Our banana garden will engage our students since collaborative efforts will be needed to make it a success. We will rely on scientific analysis of our soil using remote soil and moisture sensors.
  • Our banana garden will educate our students though hands-on learning experiences since it will require them to constantly take measurements, to use scientific inquiry and will require them to solve chemical, biological and engineering problems

An edible school garden project can help students learn Respect and Responsibility to Self, School and Society. Taking care of a garden is a great way to learn the habit of taking care of yourself, other people and the environment. It will also help them learn how eating healthy food correlates to a healthy body since we literally become what we eat. An unhealthy or limited diet restricts a young mind healthy from optimal development. Students that take care of gardens are less likely to vandalize school property since nature is a physical manifestation of math, science and art that gives people a sense of wonder. Having students take care of a garden is a great way to showcase to our community how students use banana plants to benefit others that are less fortunate.

Students can learn that “a garden is the best teacher.” - Geoff Lawton (a world renowned permaculture teacher)

Growing a school banana mandala garden can help students and teachers learn and demonstrate the following necessary 21st Century Learner Skills:

  • Recognize that students are unique with different learning styles and skills needing different strategies.
  • Technology skills are necessary to access the global world.
  • Clear and rigorous expectations should be regularly provided to students—what we say and what we do need to be consistent.
  • Instruction must be relevant learning — connected to life.
  • Creative thinking is required for school and life success.

Kahuku students who are responsible for their own learning can: (a garden and the law of the harvest teaches young people how to care for something and be how to be respectful and responsible)

  • choose and prioritize realistic and challenging learning goals.
  • organize time and resources to be prepared and on task.
  • recognize their own strengths and build on them.
  • live healthy lifestyles.
  • demonstrate personal values such as compassion, dedication, integrity, and motivation.
  • be responsible for their own actions.

Kahuku students who contribute to their communities understanding the need for people to work together can: (learning how to measure problems, coming up ideas and insights to come up with innovative solutions to improve the quality of life for people that are less fortunate).

  • display respect for themselves and others.
  • work with others to complete a common goal or project.
  • appreciate and cooperate with people of different cultures and traditions.
  • examine conflict and problems to find a mutual solution.
  • Kahuku students who are complex thinkers and problem solvers can: (learn how to solve problems using a school garden)
  • adjust to change and use various strategies to solve problems.
  • identify a problem and create imaginative solutions in many circumstances.
  • gather and use information and resources effectively.
  • think critically and rationally to find the best result.

Kahuku students who are quality performers and producers can: (learn how to make a garden productive, learn how to measure results and the impact that a garden can have on for an individual, student, family, or community)

  • use rubrics to evaluate and revise their work.
  • understand the value of knowing many subjects and having a variety of experiences.
  • show their understanding of the standards by judging their own and others' work.
  • apply knowledge and learning to real life situations.
  • Kahuku students who are effective communicators can: (communicate purpose of the school garden, learn marketing and social media skills to promote the awareness and impact of the success of the garden)
  • read, write and communicate effectively to form and exchange ideas and messages.
  • modify their message to suit a purpose and audience.
  • understand bias in messages and use appropriate skills to encourage understanding.
  • Kahuku students who are technologically literate can: (use remote soil/moisture sensors and computers to optimize the growth and health of the banana trees)
  • use technology tools to increase learning and promote creativity.
  • use technology ethically to research and express effective ideas.

This experience will engage students in 5 different ways:

  • Inquiry-based Learning
  • Problem-based Learning
  • Discovery Learning
  • Hands-on Learning
  • Cooperative Learning

A banana can be stored easily (doesn’t require refrigeration) and the banana peel serves as natural packaging (the waste banana peels can be used in our school worm farms), the stalks can be maintained easily and used for compost (i.e., no extra work for custodians to water or trim trees), bananas contain several healthy vitamins and minerals essential for young people. The banana plant grows year-round and requires little maintenance. We plan to use a rain catchment system from the roofs of two neighboring portable classrooms to provide free irrigation.

There are over 50 varieties of bananas that are available. We would like the students to grow as many varieties as possible to test for the variety with the best taste, best nutrition, best physical appearance; the variety that is easiest to maintain and the most drought tolerant. We can accomplish this by having the students record their observations on an online google form using their smartphone, ipad or laptop while in the banana garden.

We plan to use fish waste from a fish store (located next to our campus) to provide rich compost for our banana trees. We can also add compost from our cafeteria food waste and vermicast from worms that have been fed lettuce scraps from our cafeteria kitchen.

We would like our students to learn the habit of diverting and harnessing waste and transforming it into a valuable resource, a banana garden, which will enhance the natural beauty of our campus, provide food to students year-round, and create an on-site learning environment that won’t require a field trip to visit.

We plan to optimize the growth and density of the banana trees using permaculture, mandala, keyhole gardening techniques:

Note: Bananas are not really a tree, but are a gigantic herb, being a member of the grass family, like wheat, rye and barley

We would like to enlist the help of a local charity, some farmers, and a heavy equipment construction union to help us clear the weeds with a backhoe and wood chipper.

Evaluation (What will success look like and how will you know? What is the probability of success based on research or professional development you have had? How will you report the degree to which objectives were met and describe the measures that will be used? How and when will you report results?)

The desired outcome is to have the invasive weeds on the school grounds removed, and to have the area covered with waste cardboard that would have normally ended up in a landfill, to divert local fish and bone meal waste from our landfill, to collect rainwater from 2 rooftops into a rain barrel to provide irrigation, growing and harvesting for our bananas and serving them to hungry students in the cafeteria. The bananas will take 9 months to grow and they will go continue to grow and propagate throughout the year. We should be able to harvest 800 pounds of bananas from 30 banana trees each year. We can give the banana keiki (offshots) to the families of the students to grow plants in their own yards to eat.

Hawaiian Proverbs about bananas:

He mai`a ke kanaka a ka la e hua ai. Man is like a banana tree on the day it bears its fruit.

One can tell what kind of man he is by his deeds. In olden days banana stalks were often likened to men. When a man's body was removed from a grave, a banana stalk was laid in to take its place.

`A `ohe hua o ka mai`a i ka la ho`okahi. Bananas do not fruit in a single day.

A retort to an impatient person.

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