Ulupono Initiative

School Gardens Initiative

Growing fresh healthy food to nurture savvy young consumers and future farmers.

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The school garden and farm-to-school network creates connections to help grow healthy children and communities through garden-based education and farm-fresh local food. The network works with partners to create “buy local, eat local” consumers by engaging students in growing, eating and experiencing the food they nurture. The curriculum ties in important basics, such as where our food comes from, our community members’ relationship with island-grown food, and the social systems and values we will need to create a more sustainable way of life.

As part of the school garden network, Ulupono Initiative partnered with the following organizations for food and waste impact opportunities:

  • Grow Hawaii – A three-year pilot project of the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools designed to have a meaningful impact on food consumption behavior and food self-sufficiency in Hawaii by using school garden programs as a leverage point for change. Since its inception in 2010, Grow Hawaii resulted in the design/expansion of 17 school gardens, reaching more than 1,600 students grades K-12 and 181 garden educators. In 2012, it began being administered by The Kohala Center.
  • The Kohala Center’s Hawaii Island School Garden Network – A community-based institute that supports school gardens in public, charter and independent K-12 schools on Hawaii Island by providing educational efforts for children, professional training for educators and technical assistance for schools.
  • Kokua Hawaii Foundation’s AINA In Schools – A farm-to-school initiative that focuses on the core components of nutrition education, garden-based learning and healthy food on campus with additional emphasis on agricultural literacy and reducing, reusing and recycling waste.
  • Malama Kauai’s Kauai School Garden Network – A Garden Island network focused on making school gardening the norm on Kauai and supporting individual schools with the set-up of new gardens on their campuses.
  • Maui School Garden Network – A network of schools on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai that works to increase the adoption and integration of garden curriculum into schools, increase the availability of local food on campus, help school garden programs become more sustainable and prepare pathways for more youth to choose agriculture careers.

Why We Invested

Aligned with our mission for more local food production and waste reduction, Ulupono Initiative has invested in various local organizations to create a statewide school garden network. These garden-based initiatives have helped to catalyze a statewide farm-to-school movement amongst students, educators and the community.


  • Increases consumer demand for local food among children and families 
  • Supports for educated consumers who seek out fresh local food 
  • Helps raise future farmers and food entrepreneurs 
  • Incorporates lessons in composting and recycling of food, green waste as a resource 
  • Partners with garden and school food community across the state 
  • Provides replicable programs to enhance broader impact

At a Glance

Investment Area
Food, Waste
Financial Model
Total Investment


Grow Hawaii: Hawaii Association of Independent Schools
2011: $40,000

Grow Hawaii: Hawaii Association of Independent Schools School Garden Hui
2012: $45,000
2011: $13,872

Grow Hawaii: Hawaii Education Council
2010: $60,000

Kohala Center: Hawaii Island School Garden Network
2014: $22,500
2013: $147,500
2012: $83,750
2011: $150,000
2010: $47,650
2009: $195,000*
2008: $45,000*
2007: $120,000*

Kohala Center: Hawaii Island School Garden Network and School Garden Hui
2014: $32,200
2012: $21,885

Kokua Hawaii Foundation: AINA In Schools
2009: $65,000

Malama Kauai: Kauai Island School Garden Network
2012: $59,000
2010: $35,750

Maui School Garden Network
2012: $34,000

Tri-Isle RC&D Council
2010: $2,000

*Omidyar funds were invested before the creation of Ulupono and are considered founding projects.

Support is provided through grants from the Ulupono Donor-Advised Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation.

Grow Hawaii
The Kohala Center
Malama Kauai
Maui School Garden Network
Sustainable Molokai