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US (HI): UH, DOE team up to grow farm training for students

Rooted in collaboration, the Manini Farm project at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resource's (CTAHR) Urban Garden Center (UGC) is a beacon of success. Students showcased the outcomes of UGC's workforce development program, explaining how school gardens, communities, and backyard gardeners can develop small-scale farming systems to contribute to local food production.

Department of Education (DOE) Waipahu and Pearl City Complex Area students strengthened their communications skills while developing abilities in landscape maintenance, facility sanitation, plant propagation techniques and preparing the student-propagated plants for industry needs.

"I like how the guests were so interested in the plants and the vegetables, and I like how I explained the ti leaves," said Karizzma, DOE student intern.

UGC's workforce development program represents a partnership between CTAHR, the State of Hawaiʻi DOE's Ike Loa program, and Kapiʻolani Community College's culinary program.

Student-grown seeds
The Manini Farm project provides students with an opportunity to learn in a natural work environment and perform work duties under the supervision of an experienced co-worker. Each intern has a student-centered learning outcome, which mentors adjust using evidence-based learning strategies to ensure students are ready for on-the-job internships.

Leading by example, last week, more than 200 pounds of student-grown daikon and mustard greens were harvested for Kapiʻolani CC's culinary program and shared with community members.

"We help students gain knowledge and working skills they will need when they enter the workforce," said Merlinda Oania, a retired teacher from Waipahu Intermediate School. "We do so by propagating plants from seeds to harvest (lettuce) and by cuttings (pōhinahina, ti plants, crown flowers). While growing the plants, the students pick up communication and other critical competencies."

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