Kim Narol, Village Campus garden teacher and environmental educator

Kim Narol, HPA village campus, environmental education

Kim Narol, who joined HPA in 2018, collaborates with both lower and middle school teachers to connect the garden curriculum to their core standards and classroom themes. She also works with each middle school advisory group to manage the campus-wide Zero Waste initiative, with seventh graders to learn more about market gardening and supplying food for our lunch room, and with sixth graders to build Ulumau Garden’s food forest and learn more about permaculture. Kim received a B.A. from Tulane University, and an M.S. from California State University Chico.

Where did you grow up, and how did you learn about gardening?
I grew up in Princeton, NJ. I went to Camp Treetops in upstate NY for most of my life and still work there in the summer. There I was able to learn about plants and animals on a working farm, learn to cook with farm fresh ingredients, and try new things… all while exploring the Adirondacks.

In what ways do you incorporate traditional Hawaiian wisdom, techniques, and/or plants in the garden?
The fourth grade, in particular, learns a lot about Hawai‘i Island and plants native to our place. In their garden classes they work to enhance and build a section of our garden that is solely native plants and canoe plants. This year, they will dig spaces for kalo, plant ‘uala in containers, and transplant small native trees such as ma’o and ʻōhiʻa.

Can you describe your collaboration with the classroom teachers?
I work closely with each grade to connect their studies to the garden. In fifth grade, for example, they learn a lot about bees and pollination. We work on planning out pollinator patches in the garden. This year they will map those areas, starting flowers from seed, and caring for that space. Later, they visit the garden daily to record bee density by looking at one flower over a period of two weeks and recording bee sightings. I am also working with fourth grade and our art teacher to create a more viable wauke patch so we can work on making our own kapa cloth in years to come. We are growing dye plants as well such as calendula and the ma’o that can be used as a natural dye or ink in fourth grade art class.

How does the zero waste process work at the Village Campus?
It’s evolving and improving! I work with each Middle School advisory group to collect, weigh, and sort our waste. We categorize it based on the county regulations of landfill, mixed recycling, hi-5, and glass, and we process our compost in the garden in a group compost trench system that breaks down food scraps.

What is your favorite place on the island?
Lately I have really liked going on long walks on Mana Road with our dog, Kea. It is so peaceful to go at a time when not many people are there and just explore.

What’s on your nightstand reading list?
I am currently reading Braiding Sweetgrass. It has been on my list for years, and this summer I was able to take some time and enjoy it. I highly recommend it!