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"Growing your own food is like printing your own money." - Kim Panella
Project Title: Vertical Garden Project
How to Use a Vertical Garden to Inspire Students to Learn Ornamental Horticulture
My wife and two daughters are all or have been teachers, two have masters degrees, one was Miss Tahiti and a runner up Miss Earth USA. They are also teachers of the performing arts as well as flower arrangers. They love to create Polynesian headdresses, leis and floral costume adornments.
We are now focused on building vertical floral gardens to share our passion for ornamental horticulture since it saves space and makes it easier for people to view arranged plants as 3D, living art. We also intend to find ways to conserve water and to reduce the amount of heat on the sides of buildings with ornamental flowers, leaves and succulents. We hope to install the vertical gardens at schools, homes and businesses to cheer up students, community members and staff that have been affected by the COVID-19. We are hoping that the art on walls will change the way of thinking of some graffiti “artists” that occasionally deface the walls and doors of our school. Imagine walking towards your classroom or looking out of your class window and witnessing nature at its finest instead of a dreary wall covered with depressing and offensive graffiti.
As the flowers, leaves and succulents become too large for the planters, they can be harvested by the students for leis and floral headdresses or used for other decorations such as centerpieces in the cafeteria or front office.
One innovation we would like to try is using a standard wood pallet supported by rubber cast wheels to display two vertical gardens. We have a number of old metal TV cart stands that would normally end up in a landfill that could be repurposed to support 2 vertical gardens supported on one wood pallet. This will provide a two-sided wall that can be moved. We would also like to try two-sided wall vertical gardens without wheels in our community garden for all to enjoy.
We have a new community garden group in our community with over 1,000 members on facebook. We would like to showcase our process of setting up a vertical garden from seed to final products. We will insert 2-3 heirloom flower seeds (from Johnny Seeds) into 98 rock wool blocks that will be placed on plastic trays to germinate. We will use rooting liquid to speed up the rooting and some natural liquid fertilizer. Once the seedlings reach a few inches high in 2 weeks, we will transplant the individual block into the 36 vertical wall pots filled with potting soil and perlite. We will add some organic fertilizer pellets to the soil. We will attach an irrigation timer between the water spigot and automatic drip system on top of the vertical garden. We may connect several vertical gardens together to simplify maintenance. The flower plants will grow about 1’ to 2’ long. The flowers will be harvested to make flower leis, head crowns, used for centerpieces, to add fragrance to a room. The main purpose of the flower garden is to add natural beauty to a school, neighborhood, home or business.
More often than not, schools remove beautiful shade trees and/or turn landscaped gardens into asphalt to decrease maintenance costs. The end result transforms a once beautiful school looking like a prison yard. How can we expect the best from children when their environment looks like a prison? Bringing nature and flowers to a campus and making it easy and fun to maintain could be an alternative to the destructive urge for young people to spray graffiti or to vandalize property. Growing a flower garden provides evidence that a community cares about their environment and the people in it. In Polynesia, women are accustomed to wearing fresh flowers on their ears and in their hair. During special occasions, such as arrivals, birthdays, weddings, graduations and funerals flowers are used in abundance. It is common to see lei making competitions that inspire people to be creative with natural materials.
If everyone in the community could learn how to grow and maintain many flowers to beautify their surroundings, it would attract positive attention from everyone. It would be great to replace the invasive species and weeds with flowers and native plants. In many towns in French Polynesia, there are many residents who beautify the front of their homes with flowers along the coastal highway. When you first step off a plane in French Polynesia, your nose is greeted with the wonderful Tahitian gardenia (the national flower) and fragrant plumeria flowers.
Another project we would like to involve the community with is seed sharing. We started this project two months ago with great success. Our neighborhood nursery distributed free seeds that have been collected by the community. This will help extend our love for flowers to all of our towns.
Finally, we plan to create a series of videos that shows how people can create their own vertical garden for a variety of reasons in their yard, patio, school, business.
Even though we are based in Hawai'i, our projects can be done anywhere in the world.
Please help our projects and ideas get some traction by volunteering, collaborating, or making a donation. Thank you!