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Training the public

Master Gardener 8 Huis

Master Gardeners volunteer their time through 8 different Huis (or groups) designed to assist home gardeners and promote sustainable gardening practices. You do not have to join a hui to participate in their activities. Anyone can volunteer at a Fruit Fly booth for example, or help in the demonstration garden. Joining a hui gives you a voice in the decision-making process and is one way to share new ideas.

A brief description of each hui follows:

Help Line – Three mornings a week we provide telephone and drop-in assistance to home gardeners on the culture, pests and diseases of fruit, vegetable, and landscape plants. Responses are based on CTAHR publications, The Plant Doctor, and other research-based sources. This is rewarding work, affording MGs the chance to further their gardening knowledge through research, interaction with extension agents, and the public. All Master Gardeners are required to work on the Helpline as part of certification. Those who wish to contribute to making the Helpline function better are welcome to join this hui.

Ag in the Classroom (Farm Bureau Program) – In this hui, Master Gardeners visit schools to teach second graders the importance of farming in East Hawaii. Students participate by starting plants from seed.  In our age of supermarket produce, students learn that nearly all food comes from seed and they develop an appreciation for gardening and farming. Those who enjoy working with children should consider joining this hui. Training is provided as well as materials.

Speakers Bureau – This hui has two functions. We have the opportunity to speak to garden clubs and other interested groups on a variety of home gardening topics.  You should join the speaker’s bureau if you enjoy being involved with the local community, educating groups about gardening topics that interest you. The speaker’s bureau also arranges continuing education for Master Gardeners in the form of tours and by inviting guest speakers to give talks on current topics.   

Demonstration Garden – Master Gardeners use the demonstration garden at Komohana Research Complex to learn organic and sustainable methods for growing vegetables, herbs and ornamentals.  This includes composting, preparation of garden beds, planting, plant nutrition, vermicomposting and overall garden maintenance. Master Gardeners should join this hui for the opportunity to learn about sustainable and organic methods of gardening, as well as to work toward creating a garden through which we can educate the public in nutrition, composting, planning and planting a garden. Help us build a garden the public wants to see. Many hands, light work!

Master Gardeners have also begun to establish an Apiary and Apiary Garden next to the Demonstration Garden. We will work in collaboration with the Big Island Beekeepers Association to landscape the gardens and maintain hives of bees.

Komohana Landscaping – Master Gardeners are helping to enhance the campus landscape by planting and maintaining ethno-botanical plants representative of Hawaii and Hawaiian agriculture.  Consider joining this hui if you wish to contribute to an overall plan for a garden that the public can visit to learn about local agriculture and native plants. Help develop the “face” of Komohana.

Greenhouse – The Master Gardeners built a greenhouse at the Komohana complex in 2010. We use the greenhouse to propagate plants for a variety of landscape and garden projects and perform related recordkeeping. Plant starts are used for plant sales, demonstration and native gardens, and Arbor Day giveaways. This is a great opportunity to learn how to effectively manage a greenhouse. 

Komohana Little Fire Ant (LFA) Control – This hui monitors and controls the infestation of LFA at the Komohana campus.  Master Gardeners use the experience learned here to further enhance information provided to the gardening public. You should consider joining this hui if you wish to learn about how to control LFA, help with hands on experience, and reach out to the public to help stop the spread of this pest.  

Information Booth for Fruit Fly and Little Fire Ant – Master Gardeners disseminate information on the monitoring and control of these garden pests during agricultural fairs and other community events. Protein baits and lures are sold for a nominal “donation.”  This is a wonderful opportunity to promote a positive image of HIMGA throughout the Big Island.  Additionally, MGs have an opportunity to identify suitable events and engage with their local communities. 

Submitted by Jane Simon, Hawaii Island Master Gardeners