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January 13, 2010

Amy B Greenwell Ethnobotanical Gardens is a 15-acre stretch of land that was donated to the Bishop Museum by Amy Greenwell upon her death in 1974. Greenwell had been an avid archeologist and botanist who wanted to the community to have access to this rich land for generations to come. The Bishop Museum has since converted the land into a reflection of the ahupua’a (land division) in that area.

The group arrived at the gardens at 9:30 am and met the guide Manuel. The group toured the gardens and learned of the endemic and indigenous plants, many of which are endangered species and some of which are growing on the Pacific Quest lands. Manuel spoke of  the cultural, botanical and sometimes medicinal uses of each plant, including some of the tales of the mythic origins of the species.

After the tour the group participated in a service learning project.  The group learned about how plants can be choked out by dominating weeds and gained the first hand experience of clearing an area that was visibly strained by weedy conditions. The project was followed by lunch, in which the guides passed on tales of the origin of the ulu (bread fruit) tree. The group then engaged in a primitive skill lesson – learning to make cordage from hua bark. Manuel distributed long strands of hau bark that had been harvested at the gardens earlier. He taught the S-twist, one of the three ancient ways of making rope still used today. Each personl crafted a piece of cordage and then sanded a kou hook to complete our project. While the students were certainly engaged throughout the day, the crafts were definitely the highlight.

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