Garden Club grows on campus


Chantelle Aguilar

Chakhrits Kapileo (left) and Claire Taira (right) are a part of the growing Garden Club on campus.

By Chantelle Aguilar, Staff Writer

Just hours before the 2015 club registration deadline, Chaminade junior Claire Taira finally succumbed to her fears and created the Garden Club she had been trying to bring to life for half a year.

Taira, a junior majoring in psychology, thought the idea was crazy and felt like the club wouldn’t work. Luckily, after meeting with biology professor Eric Collier, who is now one of the club’s advisors, she was reminded of the reason she wanted to create a gardening club in the first place.

“Ever since I was young, I always loved animals and nature. My dad loved it, so I was always into it,” Taira said.

Today, Taira is the president of the Garden Club, which consists of approximately 20 club members. The club’s expansive garden is located in the grassy area in between Kieffer Hall and Marianist Hall.

The garden is filled with all sorts of life such as herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruits and two chickens that roam the area. Take a stroll through the garden and you will find three kinds of basil, lemongrass, cucumbers, zucchini, flowers, kumquat, blueberries and more. With different themed garden boxes such as a Hawaiian box and a Biblical box, which includes a fig and olive tree, the club aims to grow plants that are not commonly found in Hawaii.

“I want it to be a therapeutic outlet when students are stressed and want to relax,” Taira said who is from Oahu. “I hope members become passionate about seeing something come to life.”

However, it was not always an easy path for Taira. When the idea came to her in the spring semester, she and a couple of friends were given permission by Bro. Jerome Bommer to work on the garden to the east of Marianist Hall. Unfortunately, the location was not ideal as it was on a hill and barren.

At the beginning of this fall semester, Taira gave the idea another shot. This time Taira, Bro. Bommer, and Collier all worked together to make this vision come to life.

Time and money are the two biggest challenges for the club. Gardening is a slow process that requires a lot of time (both student and plant) and care. Some lose interest and some remain interested, but Taira is trying to find ways to keep members engaged and interested from sprout to finish.

Nonetheless, challenges are always expected to arise when venturing out of a comfort zone. Taira has learned to never give up, work with the challenges presented, be patient and to always be innovative.

It is most rewarding for Taira to witness bonds being created between different cultures. If it weren’t for the club, some members wouldn’t have met unless they did this one thing together.

“It’s a learning process and you just have to keep going at it to see what the vision is going to be,” Taira said.

The garden has grown exponentially in just a few months thanks to the help of Collier and the positive relationship between him and Taira, which he said “wouldn’t have happened without Claire.”

Collier is from Philadelphia and is no stranger to gardening. He has a bachelor’s degree in general agriculture and has experience working with livestock and gardening. However, his feelings for nature and life go far beyond that. Once a part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which allows members to build a relationship with its farmers and receive ultra-fresh food straight from the farm, Collier knows the importance of plants firsthand and wishes students will too.

“I hope they learn more skills of gardening, the food process, and the relationship plants have with us and as well as the environment,” Collier said. “Everything is a symbiotic relationship, I want them to really understand the minutia of growing things.”

In the future, the club hopes that with it’s growth, it can be a potential source for on-and off-campus organizations and maybe even provide restaurants with their products. The club would also like to collaborate with other clubs such as the Animal Lovers Club, the Education Club, and the Micronesian Club.

There is a special interest to work closely with the Micronesian Club. Recently, it became known that there is a Vitamin A deficiency amongst the Mircronesian community. The Department of Natural Science and Mathematics’ current mission is to work with the Chaminade satellite school in Chuuk, Micronesia, and help with the issue.

The Garden Club has a lot in store in the future. More plants and vegetables are being added to the garden every week, and a beehive to accumulate honey will soon join them. The club also hopes to share its hard work with the rest of Chaminade by providing flowers for purchase during Valentine’s Day. Thanks to Taira’s unwavering passion, the club exists today, and she is ecstatic to have the opportunity to develop and watch something grow.