Just over half a mile Ewa of Kamaliʻi Park is the Institute for Human Services (IHS). In the short film “Hazel’s Harvest,” produced for IHS by Urban Fork Productions in 2011, we learn about the agency’s urban agriculture program and follow several homeless clients as they seek potential sites for edible landscapes.

The film screened at Bike-In 3.0 at Old Stadium Park (Moiliili) in September 2013 along with “Ingredients Hawaii.” IHS was among the many groups supporting the concept of a food forest at Kamaliʻi Park.

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What was at Kamaliʻi Park in the early 1900s?

In re-imagining a future for Kamaliʻi Park, it’s helpful to look into its past. Here is an excerpt from an insurance map from 1914, updated in 1922. Besides the Central Fire Station, the most prominent building is the Fort Street Chinese Church (see church history).

insurance map for Kamalii Park area, 1914 (updated 1922)
click for full-size version

Source: Insurance maps of Honolulu, Oahu Territory of Hawaii, 1914, Sanborn Map Company, New York. Updated to 1922. (Hawaii State Archives)

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The following is a message from the Food Forest Citizens Working Group to the signers of a petition seeking approval for the project. The petition was directed to Mayor Caldwell and Parks & Recreation director Toni Robinson.

Aloha all,

Fiscal year 2013 has come to an end with neither approval nor release of budgeted funds for a food forest at Kamaliʻi Park. We are closing the petition, but wanted to give you a short update on what happened and also why we remain encouraged.

Recall that the 2013 fiscal year opened with $50,000 in the city council’s budget for a food security pilot project — a food forest at Kamaliʻi park. Money in the council’s budget does not necessarily mean the city administration will implement a project. That is why we worked to gain support from the Downtown Neighborhood Board and many community partners, as well as demonstrate support from the public at large through petitions.

Between the online and print petitions, over 1,000 people — including you — registered their support for a food forest at Kamaliʻi Park. Thank you for affirming a vision of what this little triangle of land downtown could become.

Despite the public support, we were not able to secure project approval in time for the budgeted funds to be released by the end of the fiscal year. Appeals to the mayor’s office to consider how well the project fit with some of the mayor’s top priorities were drowned out by a conflict between the mayor and the council over earmarks in the city budget. We were directed to a Grants In Aid application process for the new fiscal year, but were then told that permission for the project should be in hand before applying for funds. Although we encountered many hurdles, this was a great learning process.

Kuhio Mini Park stones and plants

Kuhio Mini Park is on Kuhio Ave near Liliuokalani Ave in Waikiki.

We also learned more about a successful project at a previously problematic mini park in Waikiki: Kuhio Mini Park. One of the reasons that park has become such an inviting and inspirational space is because project proponents thoroughly explored the history of the land. Sensitivity to the place and its stories allowed the project unfold in a way that surpassed the expectations of those involved.

We have been at this for just a year. Following the example at Kuhio Mini Park, we will be digging deeper into the rich history at Kamaliʻi Park, continuing a dialogue with project partners, and hoping to discover what this place wants to become.

Thank you again for your support and please visit http://www.kamaliipark.org for updates.


The Food Forest Citizens Working Group

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Hawaii Public Radio web header
David Atcheson, a board member of project partner Transition Oahu, was interviewed this morning on Hawaii Public Radio’s “The Conversation” about the food forest proposed for Kamalii Park. It’s another way more people are learning about the opportunity the City has to join with community partners to revitalize a little park and build community, advancing at least two of the mayor’s priorities in the process. Listen to the interview »

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Honolulu Weekly features food forest project

June 5, 2013 cover image for the Honolulu Weekly
The new edition of the Honolulu Weekly includes a feature on the food forest project. Here are a few excerpts.

In addition to planting food in public spaces, Food Forest is “also about rethinking the way we allocate our resources towards stewardship of the ‘aina, in a way that is respectful to all and ultimately builds stronger communities,” says Matthew Lynch, executive director of [Asia-Pacific Center for Regenerative Design].

A food-scaped Kamalii Park is envisioned as a multipurpose public space that organizations such as The Institute for Human Services (IHS) and Mental Health Kokua can use for offering more of their outreach and training programs. “IHS is jazzed about our partnership with the Food Forest Project. It dovetails perfectly with the Green Sleeves urban agriculture training that we offer to shelter guests, as well as our Civic Engagement Program, where they’re given opportunities to give back to the community,” says Connie Mitchell, Executive Director of IHS. “We’re 100 percent behind growing food in the city!”

“We applaud the revitalization and restoration of Kamalii Park to benefit the community and the environment and we encourage other communities to do the same,” says Alvin Au, chair of the Downtown Neighborhood Board.

Read the complete article »

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Sign the Petition for the Food Forest »Transition Oahu, one of our partner groups, has launched a petition seeking approval for the food forest pilot project from the mayor and the director of Parks & Recreation.

The petition seeks permission to proceed on the project even if it turns out it’s too late to use the funds the City Council budgeted for the project last year. With all the community support, we’ll find a way!

Sign the petition soon — it will be up only for a few days!

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Food forest demo set up at Cyclovia event in Kakaako

young woman with arms out shows off the food forest demo installation

boy with watering can waters crazy tower of plant potsThe food forest working group installed a demonstration “food forest” at the Cyclovia event in Kakaako on May 12, 2013.

Event attendees came by to check out the concept, relax in a community setting, and learn about plans at Kamaliʻi Park.

visitors relax on pallet furniture surrounded by plants

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Pacxa teamed up with the students of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School and the City & County of Honolulu for the first quarterly cleanup at Kamaliʻi Park. More than 60 employees and student volunteers from the school participated.

The Honolulu Food Forest working group hosted an information table at the event. Leaders of the two efforts are enthusiastic about their shared interest in the park and look forward to continued collaboration.

Gordon Bruce carrying trash bag with students in background at planter

President and CEO Gordon Bruce pitches in to clean up Kamaliʻi Park

Keith using a roller brush to paint a concrete planter box

Keith Amemiya of Island Holdings helps to clean up Kamaliʻi Park.

Photos are courtesy of Pacxa and originally appeared on the Pacific Business News website.

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On February 7, 2013, the Honolulu Food Forest working group introduced its plans for Kamaliʻi Park to the Downtown/Chinatown Neighborhood Board. The group had been advised that local support as expressed through the neighborhood board was important to advance the project.

‘Ōlelo films the meetings for television broadcast and also puts the shows on their website. Here is the clip with our presentation. At the end of the clip, the board votes unanimous support for the project.

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If you have any trouble viewing the embedded video, try viewing it on the ‘Ōlelo website (the food forest part starts at timepoint 1:21:00).

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