By Audrey Tanaka
Always a delightful community gathering, the 9th biennial Mālama Mānoa 1000 Tree Giveaway on July 18 was a crowd-pleasing success. Seasoned and aspiring gardeners came from all over Oahu. This popular event helps keep our island green, clean and shaded.
Members and friends of the Mānoa Outdoor Circle and Mālama Mānoa begin nurturing trees and plants many months or years before the giveaway. Specimens ranging from six foot kukui saplings to small young kalo plants are started and nurtured in private gardens all over our island.
Volunteers collected and staged the potted gems Friday, July 17 at the historic home of Dr. Jeremy Lam, President of the Mānoa Outdoor Circle, who for years has generously sustained this project and provided many of the trees himself.
At the crack of dawn on Saturday, dozens of helpers arranged the potted gems on the property of the Honolulu Christian Church, who generously provided their spacious lawn to stage the event. With ample street parking, the convenient Oahu Avenue site was ideal, and Pastor Shinji Seki and his wife Rei helped tremendously.
Early risers, eager for their plants, lined up on the sidewalk, some patiently waiting an hour before opening at 8:00! Kimie Hirabayashi kindly served as a gentle gatekeeper, allowing the stream of visitors to flow smoothly and safely. Helen Taufaasau and her energetic assistant Dale Moana Gilmartin welcomed attendees, directed them towards the plants best suited to their needs and shared information about Mālama Mānoa’s role in our community.
We are most appreciative for the support from both the O’hia Legacy Initiative, and arborists Heidi Bornhorst and Dudley Hulbert, who advised and answered questions about plant care. J.C. Watson nurtured and donated the popular O’hia plants. Also on hand were Mālama Mānoa Advisor Joe Ferraro with his Sunrise Rotary Club, and ethnobotanist, Maya LeGrande.
Linda LeGrande and Vanessa Distajo organized other Mālama Mānoa Board of Directors, Advisors and friends including Tai Couch, George Arizumi, Tom Heinrich, JoLinda Susilo, Andrew Garrett, and Audrey Tanaka. Mahalo to Mālama Mānoa members Andrew Laurence, Kelly and Jimmy McMahon, Patricia Johnson, Jackie and Kaione Scott, Amelie Pfeffer, Eddie Chung, Maura Okamoto and Mānoa Outdoor Circle members and friends. Everyone abided by Covid-19 safety protocols, wearing mandatory masks and physically distancing. Hundreds of happy recipients enjoyed the wonderful weather, and proudly treasured their Nature’s gift upon leaving.