Politics of Food students embarked on a pair of service-learning field trips to Heʻeia Fishpond on Jan. 28 and MA’O Organic Farms on Feb. 4.
Students moved invasive mangrove logs to clear part of the perimeter of the fishpond and debarked the mangrove logs using traditional practices at Heʻeia Fishpond. These logs will become structural posts for future hale at the pond or other community sites. The smaller debarked branches will become part of the makaha (gates) at the fishpond. Through the service-learning opportunity, students “come to understand the difficulty of indigenous fish farming practices given the resources of the time and learn how many hands working together (laulima) can accomplish large scale community projects in a reasonable amount of time,” UH West Oʻahu Associate Professor of Political Science, Monique Mironesco, said. “Seeing the how the community comes together both metaphorically and in real life is a powerful example for today’s students learning skills in UHWO’s Political Science and Sustainable Community Food Systems programs to solve contemporary problems.”
At MAʻO Organic Farms, students helped weed beds of American parsley, remove weed trees from a permaculture area, and mulch around lime trees to avoid irrigation evaporation. “Students are exposed to a small segment of what it takes to be an organic farmer in Hawaiʻi, giving them a greater appreciation for the challenges and opportunities of farming and the inner workings of the food system, as well as an understanding of the amount of labor that goes into getting good and fair food to their table,” Dr. Mironesco said.
The service-learning work is just one component of the Sustainable Community Food Systems (SCFS)/Political Science 335: Politics of Food course.