UH West Oʻahu Associate Professor of Political Science, Monique Mironesco, and her Politics of Food class performed service learning work in the Kuhiawaho Loʻi, located adjacent to Leeward Community College. The students pulled weeds, removed invasive species, and old wooden barriers from about a third of the farm to enable lo’i stewards, Ron Fitzgerald and Samantha Ai, to plant additional kalo varieties.
The service-learning work is just one component of the Sustainable Community Food Systems (SCFS)/Political Science 335: Politics of Food course. Students also learn about the process of food production and how food has shaped global history. This class serves as a space to question assumptions about issues surrounding production and consumption, and the links between agribusiness and the food people place on their tables.
Samantha Ahern, a junior pursuing the SCFS concentration, called herself a hands-on learner, and said that service-learning gives students the opportunity to put “what you learn into class into action while also giving back to the community.”
“I love getting dirty and immersing myself in what I am learning,” Ahern said. “I’m not from Hawaiʻi so joining the SCFS program has really been a head-first dive into Hawaiian culture and traditional agricultural practices and I’m very thankful to have been so graciously welcomed into such a sacred part of that. It was an awesome opportunity to live what I have been learning and I’d like to have my own farm one day so to able to see a small grassroots system working so successfully is really inspiring.”
Ahern, who is from Arlington, Mass., said she hopes to work in sustainable agriculture following her spring 2018 graduation. She wants to “work to partner diversified farms with institutions like hospitals and schools to open up a market for the farm while providing healthy, fresh, local and sustainably grown food to the partnering institution.”
Students in the spring 2017 Politics of Food class performed service learning work in the Kuhiawaho Lo’i.