Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spring updates

We have mostly been keepin our heads just above water this semester but have made some headway in new territory.  Namely we coordinated with the Food Sciences (namely Misty and Dr Dodd) prior to the Christmas Break and grew varied salad greens that were purchased by Food Science (thanks much for your business) and prepared for the Quiz Bowl attendees last Friday 21 Feb.  
      Now although we haven't had any produces sells in the Sustainability Courtyard we will have one coming up this Monday, see details below, and would really love to see some of our more regular volunteers to help make this a successful venture. At the same time we would love to expand to having another sale and ask that folks that want to participate to come to our next few workdays.  It is good wholesome fun and your efforts will be rewarded with the pride in a job well done and in almost every instance a small bag of assorted produce.  Regular members have additional perks and we are always happy for new ideas on how to make improvements.  
    Of course this Saturday we have a workday and it would be great to get a full house.
    Finally, Tuesday the 4th the Noelani 1st Graders are coming out and Mitchell Loo sure could use a hand managing those little rascals.  The kids are on site at the SOFT Farm from 0800 - 0945 but I sure would appreciate if folks could give Mitchell a hand as early as 0700 to get the site prepped for those little folks.  

The following are some elaborations on the key days and dates coming up.

Saturday, 1 Mar 0900 - 1500:  SOFT Farm Workday (Priority tasks include removing dead lilikoi vines on the pavilion and prep Bed 1 for herbs and future lilikoi plantings.  Harvest for Mondays sell and take home produce for all volunteers.  Compost turning and some other regular maintenance items, including weeding, tilling, planting seedlings, checking the bees, a little grass cutting, and a little pest remediation.  This day also includes Earth Day Prep with Michi she sure would appreciate the extra help and although she has the energy of a lioness I would love to see some newcomers come out and take some of the weight off her shoulders.

Saturday, 1 Mar 1500 - 1600:  Members Meeting Location TBD 

Monday, 3 Mar 0730 - 1430: Produce Sale (this is pretty much a whole day event but you can easily help as you will see from the compartmentalized timeline below
0730 - 0900 at SOFT Farm at Magoon Harvest and clean greens for the sell.  We need about 2 more volunteers to make this an efficient harvest.  (Michi and Nate are leading this effort)
0900 - 1000 transport all veggies from SOFT Farm to the refrigerator at Pope Lab.  One more with Michi would be very helpful.
1030 - 1120 Behind Pope Lab help load up truck for transportation to Sustainability Courtyard.  (I will be loading up from 1030 - 1100 and departing by 1100 for Sustainability Courtyard to set up for the sale another helper would be very useful)
1130 - 1200 Set up at Sustainability Courtyard.  one or two more helpers for Michi if you have some time.
1200 - 1330 Produce Sale.  Leftovers go to volunteers 1 - 2 more to help Michi
1330 - 1430 Finally the most critical part repack the truck and get everything accounted for and back to its proper place I really need at least one more person to help Michi get this done as she is bound to be worn out after all this.

Tuesday, 4 Mar 0700 - 0945:  Noelani First Graders are coming over come help Mitch set up from 0700 or come at 0930 to help close the thing down and get every thing back to its proper place or come anytime in between and help herd the kids.  You know they say the darndest things.

Okay If you made it this far then Thank You.  Bottom line I put this much detail because I want to emphasize that it doesn't take a lot of time to be really helpful to the group an hours help from bunches of folks is how we get things done at SOFT and is the most representative of a student lead and operated organization.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

SOFT's second lecture series on "Food Movement" hosted the following notable guests: Mr. Steve Carey, from Whole Foods, Ms. Vivian Best, the founder of Give it Fresh Today, Ms. Lisa Zeman, the founder of Oahu Fresh, Ms. Lynette Larson, General Manager of Kokua Market, and Dr. Kimberly Clark, from Just Add Water.  

The lectures were lively with key take aways solutions to incorporating local produce from area farmers to build an increasing food independent Hawaii.   

Bottom line we learned that we have some hard working folks in our community that support hard working farmers and want to see our future farmers succeed.   

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The SOFT Lecture Series

As part of our mission to increase awareness of sustainable agriculture movements in Hawaii, our group is in the process of trying to put together a three part sustainable agriculture lecture series with a panel discussion.
The series is once a week for three weeks, with each week focusing on a different aspect of sustainable agriculture.
The categories are:

--Farm to table
            Focusing on the connections between the farmer and food service/the consumer

--Food Movement
            Focusing on the distribution methods of locally consumed foods

--Sustainable movement building
            Focusing on the movements that are taking place locally to improve sustainable practices

Noelani is growing up!

We are always proud of our Noelani first graders, and as we wrap up anther successful year of our partnership, we are happy to share some of the work they are doing on their own.

Our first graders ask the best questions!

Before we wrap up the semester with the final harvest, feel free to check out the work they have been doing to promote sustainable agriculture on their own:

Check out the Go green, grow and buy local website

Or, they adorable and informative Podcast

Friday, February 22, 2013

I am always happy to see these little wiggling worms when planting, our soil is healthy due in large part to the compost that we add before every planting.  The quantities of worms living in our beds is an example of this.  We planted three 20' beds in both pole and soy bean last week.

Grading limu into our compost beds.  Hawaii is making the best out of a bad situation by removing this invasive algae from our harbors and beaches, farmers, after a thorough rinsing have found it to make a good composting material. 

16 Feb 2013:
Gabe and J. knock out some weeding on our 100' beds come the beginning of April we are going to have plenty kale, tomato, cilantro, and much more.  This semester we are lucky enough to have 2000 additional square feet of growing space just need more volunteers like J. as well as the continued presence of Gabe our dedicated leader.
16 Feb 2013:  Andrew transplanting Bunchy Top resistant bananas to larger pots.  He and Gabe propagated them from two varieties that Gabe has planted either on campus or in Waimanalo get with either for the variety and definitely let them know if you are interested in purchasing one in the future. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Spring 2013 Semester

So SOFT is well into the Spring 2013 semester and we are still chugging along.  In the next two weeks we will get some more photos published on our blog, in the meantime the following are some of the activities that we have been up to in the past month.

Jeana C. is working hard to secure SOFT some funds so we might purchase of a pick-up.  We need the pick-up primarily to maintain John M's good work on the food waste/ compost project, get our produce to our weekly sale and eventually expand our footprint to our Waimanalo plots more regularly.

Noelani Elementary 1st graders have planted their herbs and vegetables in one of our 100' beds under the guidance of Nate O.

We have started tomato seedlings in portions of two other beds and Andrew D. went shopping for some kale and collard green transplants to go in their as well.  Popcorn seed was also started and some seed trays have been seeded with pole beans, if all goes well we will have plenty of stuff growing in all the 100' beds by the middle of March.

Gabe's chickens are starting to produce eggs, although the production is low.  We expect them to start earning their keep real soon, or else we might have to do a Fried Chicken Day, and hope to get those eggs out at the weekly produce sell.

Gabe and Andrew started about 100+ banana cuttings and already we have  over a dozen keiki emerging and soon ready to sell and plant.  Get with Gabe if you are interested in your own banana tree at home.  Gabe can give you the details concerning Banana Bunchy-Top Virus (BBV) resistance or not and the varieties he has.

We still have bees they live in our fruit orchard which has some new additions from late last semester.

All in all we are busy and are always looking for new members and volunteers to keep our vegetable beds looking good.

Our standard weekly meeting is held from 1200 to 1300 every Friday in St John 209.
Our regular workday is every Saturday from 0900 - 1700.
Our produce sell for this semester is Wednesdays from 1100 - 1300 in the Sustainable Courtyard next to Kuykendall.
Nate N.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SAEA Conference Update

The SAEA conference in Corvallis, Oregon was a wonderful opportunity for SOFT students to meet with other student and university level groups and advocates to share ideas and innovations for sustainable agriculture education. SOFT was very interested in participating in this conference, not only because it was a wonderful opportunity to learn the latest innovations with agriculture education, but also to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the student farm. This conference provided a medium for our students to really connect with similar student groups who are facing similar problems in all corners of the United States. 
Gathering Together Farm--Philomath, OR
I was surprised, yet assured to learn that many other student farms are facing very similar, if not identical, problems as the ones we face at the University of Hawaii. We were fortunate enough to have a large range of diversity as far as  the succes and maturity of student farm/agriculture education programs available to share their backgrounds and schools of thought. One key factor that was really emphasized at this conference was that it is near impossible to have a successful student farm without an on-site farm manager. In addition, good organization on the part of the students and a sense of ownership, created by team building activities, are also important to have as part of the student farm program. 
I got a lot of great ideas about what SOFT can do in order to integrate better with the University and hopefully make a positive impact in the school, and the greater Hawaii. Most importantly, I think that the goal at the top of our short term list should be to find a way to get a farm manager and integrate SOFT into the curriculum, if not a sustainable agriculture track. 

More information about the conference can be found at :

Zena Farm--Willamette Valley

Possible projects that SOFT should think about:
-Participating in the Real Food Challenge
-Collaborating with other food systems classes ( also get the campus cafeteria involved--tours?)
-Create a networking hub (community donations for food pantry
-Look into geting funding from Organic farmers
-Aggregating faculty for class integration
-Initiate a Student Sustainability Initiative
-Host public lectures*
-Provide hours of operation in front (easy!)
-Sodexo should be paying us

Ideas for integrated classes (TPSS 364?)
-student presentations on hot ag topics
-service learning project-community involvement 
-assessment of the student farms sustainability (how to improve)
-gather insight from
-qualitative analysis vis reflective essays
-*public lectures
-use pre-existing classes!
-grants for building materials for architecture student projects?
-699 class to teach by graduate students
-can TPSS offer a minor or certificate?
 -cooking workshops, field trips, interviews, farm work

Find out the costs associated with integrated classes
-contact effective programs for costs of manager, etc (field technician pay?)
-instill sense of ownership by students
-apply for work-study for paid student help
-take note of student contact hours, visitors, tours
***Farm manager is key to a successful student farm!
-start a kick starter (video, etc?)
-keep records of everything for details
-skill share group?
-SAEA website good source of contact for other s-farms
-Past SAEA break out group notes posted online!
-manager funding form Americorps?
-look up how SOFT fits into strategic plan
-get into sustainable ag articles
Zena Farm--Willamette Valley

Session 2 (Open session 1): Attracting new members to student farms

Engage the international students: They often know more about farming then the traditional
American student
Important to have non-farming related activities at the farm to attract new members: Cooking
events with food grown on farm, cider pressing events, canning events, making stuff people can
take home with them
Importance of relational organizing Farm should be a space where a group of people work
together to accomplish a mission. Perpetuate an environment that fosters relationships
between people
Leaders of an organization often have many tasks to do and risk burnout or a loss of interest, so
constantly seeking new members/training potential leaders should a priority
People are seeking a sense of purpose (esp. freshman). Build a strong sense of community in
order to draw new members in. Important that people feel like their ideas/voice will be heard.
o People participate in group organizations for two reasons:
They’re extremely passionate about the subject
They have a personal investment with the group (showing up to meet/talk with
their friends)
Evaluate prospective new members on three things:
1) The persons skills ( how they can help you, where can you plug them into your organization)
2) How passionate they are (why they came out in the first place?)
3) Capacity (How busy are they? What is their potential time commitment to your

  • Have ways to show people what you are doing and update regularly: Blog, twitter, facebook
  • Get administration to sign the “Real food campus commitment”: where University pledges to
  • buy 20% real food by 2020

Session 3 (Open Session 2): Student Farm Systems
  • At Duke University they fund student farm half with dining services money and half with a
  • University sustainability fund.
  • Hold skill sharing workshops
  • Give new members diverse jobs to work on
  • Have a group of grad students teach a course
  • Farm managers typically paid the salary of a field technician
  • Look into USDA Higher Education Challenge Grants and Hawaii specific USDA grants

Session 4: Student Farms: Pedagogy and Learning
  • Student-led Food Service: How Students are feeding the Campus, Influencing Policy, and Gaining Job
  • Skills for the New Local Food Economy.

Evergreen College (Flaming Eggplant Cafe)
Student run food service café
  • Implemented a one time student fee to raise money to start food truck on campus that was
  • widely supported by student population
  • Serve meals from $1-$8, offers vegetarian and gluten-free meals, most popular item is
  • kombucha on tap.
  • COFED food authority (Cooperative food empowerment directives)

St. Olaf Garden Research and Organic Works
  • Students are employees of their food server on campus (Bon appétit) and are paid by them
  • Harvest fest events, seedling adoption (students in dorm raise a small plant and bring it back to
  • the farm later on to plant)
  • Plan events with other student organizations

The UBC Farm experience: Growing a Centre for Sustainable Food Systems in Vancouver, Canada UBC
farms (Canada)
  • Provide students and the community with hands on experiential learning
  • Farm was designated for housing developed, but they fought back with 16,000 signatures and
  • flocks of students and research project started happening on the farm
  • Offered short courses (2 weeks) with international students
  • Offered an engineering design course produce washes
  • Make academic relevance of farm known to people

Montana State University: A Varied Classroom for Sustainable Food Systems Education
  • Sustainable crop production is a balance between education vs. end result
  • Farm should be a place where students are gaining professional experience so they become
  • competitive applicants and can get a job when they graduate
  • Focus on growing their employees so when their done, their growing/farming as a career
  • Offer summer coursework
  • Built a community food truck
  • Offered community $5 fill your produce bag events

DISCUSSION: Linking Student Farms and Sustainable Ag Majors: Experiential Learning In and Out of

the Classroom
  • Farm manager paid out of fee from summer programs
  • Develop your production system to generate revenue and become self-funding.
  • Hire students through work study programs.
  • Academic coordinator should act a liaison and be 1st point of contact with anyone interested in
  • working with student farm.
  • o They should also be actively facilitating interest in the program and work to integrate
  • program with the curriculum
  • Charge schools for children to come and have lessons at the farm

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

SOFT Now Has Facebook!

Check it out and "like" us on Facebook at

Spring Harvest

SOFT had a great time harvesting herbs and vegetables with the Noelani first grade classes on Monday. The herbs will be given to parents at the May Fair, at the end of the week. Thank you Thomas Lim for taking photos and supporting us during this event.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mid Semester Update Spring 2012

Gabe with Sweet Potato
Volunteers working hard

Tony showing the weeds who is boss

                                                                             Spring is finally here, and the vegetable plots at Magoon are thriving.

 We have had a good turnout of volunteers lately and it is really making a difference.

For any and all that are interested, com up this Saturday to help out, there is always so much to do.

We will be there from 9AM until 4PM, so feel free to show up anytime during the day.

We will be working on our compost piles, planting broccoli, tending to the chickens, and as always, weeding.
Things to do today!
Kelsy displays our carrot diversity

Our lufa is visited by a carpenter bee

Banana Walkway Update

One of many bunches not yet ready to harvest!
Gabe leads the lesson on collecting keiki
The bananas planted down by the Art building are doing great! 
We currently have 11 plants that are fruiting and we cant wait to harvest. 
The banana walkway was honored to serve the TPSS 300 class as a living laboratory for 
lessons on banana care and production. 
Gabe led the lesson and showed the class how to collect keiki, harvest bunches, 
and proper maintenance techniques.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chickens at Magoon

The spring semester has arrived and Soft has some new workers at the farm. Soft recently adopted six laying hens to provide eggs for the sales and hunt for insects on the farm. We are hoping to integrate the chickens into the farming system and use them as a learning tool for Soft students.

Monday, January 23, 2012

SOFT honored at first UHM Semester of Sustainability Kick-off

SOFT was recently honored at the first Semester of Sustainability Kick-off event at UH Manoa, a program planned to be held at the beginning of each semester to inform and showcase students and the public about various sustainability related projects which are happening on campus. SOFT was awarded the "Student Movers and Shakers" award for our recent progress in establishing on-campus production and display plots. It's nice to have people excited about what we've done already, because if that made them turn their heads, then what we will do next will blow their minds!

Check out the video below from Oiwi TV about the event, you can see our booth somewhere near the end!

UH Mānoa Semester of Sustainability Kickoff from Oiwi TV on Vimeo.

We also kinda made it into a Ka Leo article, neato!

Monday, December 12, 2011

CTAHR Impact Story

SOFT was recently featured in the CTAHR Impact Stories for this semester. Follow the link below to see the article.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Noelani First Grade Garden Fall 2011 Final Harvest

Early Wednesday morning we had the First graders come out to do their final harvest for 2011. We learned all about food safety from Jim Hollyer and all about nutrition from Maria Stewart, also known as "Professor Peabody". Our harvest included sweet corn, kai choy, edamame, green onion, chives, basil and pole beans, all to be made into a tasty soup!

Jim Hollyer washing hands for food safety
Professor Peabody exclaiming about human nutrition

Check what the Noelani first grade class is up to now at this link:

Mid Semester update

The Sustainability Courtyard has gotten a lot of compliments

The new and old plots of Soft are growing well. We are happy to see that our plants are growing up and providing our customers with great produce.

We have just finished installing our new irrigation up at Magoon and everything is running well.

Digging our permanent beds
Two amazing Soft students posing in front of our Hawaiian chili peppers at Magoon

Friday, November 4, 2011

Food Day Event

Soft was a featured guest at this years UHM Food Day event. We enjoyed local food, talking about Soft and learning about improving food quality and education. For more information about Food Day, check out

The Kukui Cup

Soft was a special guest in the Kukui Cup! The Kukui cup is a three week energy education and energy saving challenge that is taking place in the freshman towers. Soft held a small workshop where we talked about small scale gardening and the importance of sustainability. For information about the Kukui cup, check out their website at

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Noelani First Grade Garden Fall 2011 Weeding Activity

Today, our very own weed scientist, Dr. Joe DeFrank, came out to talk about weeds and the importance of weeding. We had a great time and cant wait for next month!
Photo credit to Thomas Lim

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kava Festival 2011

Soft had an easy going day at the Kava festival, where kava is drunk, poi is pounded, lomi lomi is practiced and the music is slammin'! The kava festival is a celebration of Hawaii and Pacific Island 'awa where educational booths and vendors from around O'ahu joined forces. This year, Soft sold our own fresh frozen and dry powdered kava, along with our usual produce. We had many visitors, asking questions and talking story. One visitor we were pleased to have our picture taken with was our very own Dean of CTAHR, Silvia Yuen.

Photo credit, Dr. Skip Bittenbender