Next on She grows food: Jackie Akuna

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When the school bell starts ringing again this fall, we’ll be introducing you to Jackie Akuna and the students of her amazing Agricultural Learning Center at Leilehua High School.

After graduating just six years ago from Leilehua and this well-preserved DOE and Future Farmers of America supported agricultural student program, Jackie got her teaching degree and came back to keep the program going. In her first year of leading this program it’s clear that Jackie is out to not just lead it but grow it. Enrollment in her program went from 110 to 170 students in just one year as word spread that something special was happening over in Ag.

Firmly planted in the heart of old Wahiawa, Leilehua High School has ag roots and it’s these roots, as well as hardcore support from its close knit (and farming) community, that have kept this program full of self sufficiency skills alive. Students under Jackie’s supervision cultivate three dedicated acres of land on school grounds learning a variety of skills that range from crop field, hydroponic greenhouse, Ti leaf preservation project, Kikuya grass pasture, tree keeping, as well as caring for chickens and rabbits. Bees keep coming to the farm, so they’ve also increased their hives too. The program also includes all the business side of running a farm as well. Harvests from the farm are prepped for delivery to the school’s culinary program and for the new Wahiawa Farmers Market down the road.

We’ve been hanging out with Jackie, her staff, students and family over the last months. And each time we come away excited for these kids. Yes, farming is not easy, but in this day and age learning how to grow food and run your own business at an early age may just turn out to be quite valuable.

Stay tuned – we’ll be bringing you a story complete with video and a fundraising campaign to help them raise funds for an aquaponic addition. Also part of this story is our involvement in bringing EBT (electronic benefits foodstamps) acceptance to this market with GreenWheel Food Hub!

Where you’ll find Jackie and her students:

Wahiawa Farmers Market (non-profit, community operated, 100% local produce) Every Thursday, 4:30-6:30pm 1067 California Avenue, in the parking lot of Hongwanji Wahiawa town

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One Response to “Next on She grows food: Jackie Akuna”

  1. Demarie Harrison says:

    My daughter is 7years old at what age can she participate?