Nature Farming at Wheeler Elementary

2003 Annual Report for SW01-066

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2001: $13,460.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Joe Lee
Wheeler Elementary School

Nature Farming at Wheeler Elementary


The focus of our Nature Garden is to help support student achievement in reading, math and science. Our garden encourages teachers to conduct hands-on lessons related to sustainable nature farming. Many teachers have become active garden participants. All students are provided opportunites to participate in various activities in our Nature Garden. We are proud to announce that we have achieved AYP (adequate yearly progress) as measured by the State of Hawaii and under NCLB (no child left behind). We continue to work with the Mokichi Okada Association (a strong proponent of nature farming), our community and military partners.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  • Increase student Achievement in reading, math and science.
    -expand student learning and encourage experiences in agriculture
    -promote good stewardship of the land
    -enhance farmers' quality of life
    -encourage the application of nature farming


The primary goal of all schools is increased student achievement. We believe that the hands-on experiences our students are provided in our Nature Garden support higher student achievement. Attaining AYP (adequate yearly progress) 4 of the last 5 years can be attributed to a combination of many factors, one of which is our Nature Garden.

Our Nature Garden entails a wide range of activities. Students begin with soil testing with samples forwarded for analysis to the College of Tropical Agriculture at the Universtiy of Hawaii (Manoa). This past year we found that our nematode count was high and we had a low nitrate count. We added a cover crop of Crotolaria to address this concern. A crop of soybeans followed to ensure appropriate soil nutrient composition. An updated soil analysis indicated improved nematode and nitrate levels.

This past year we were able to use a crop rotation system that included soy, corn, and cover crops. Our corn was harvested in November, a short winter cover crop and a spring planting of soy.

To support student participation and to provide maintenance of the garden we have two part-time employees. Their responsibilities include classroom instruction, garden activities, and general maintanance of the garden and the surrounding area. Students in all grade levels have access to the garden and are provided a range of activities during the school year.

We continue to get exposure in the local news media including articles in the community newspaper and media coverage by the national Farm Bureau. We continue to solicit support from our school and community partners to expand and improve our Nature Garden Project.

Our newest project has been to produce market quality soybean seeds that can be marketed as organic. We are in the process of distributing our third generation seeds with a MOA to determine quality and to begin the process of sharing our work with our partners. We hope to get seeds this year to local farmers and other members of the agricultrural community.

We continue to seek new ways to benefit students and the agricultural community. We plan visits to MOA farm in Waimanalo and are currently looking for a few more local farmers to help guide our next steps.

As stated earlier, as a school our main concern is increased student achievement. The integration of classroom and hands-on activities provide students with the tools needed to be successful in the 21st Century.

The test scores listed below provide evidence that students outcomes in reading, math, and attendance rates at Wheeler Elementary School have met or exceeded the expectations of the State of Hawaii and the federal government under NCLB.

We are proud to continue to work with our SARE grant and hope for continued success. We do attribute our Adequate Yearly Progress to many factors school wide, but it is important to recognize our Nature Garden as one of our proud programs that support student achievement at Wheeler Elementary School.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

As stated earlier, the primary goal of all schools is increased student acheivement. Our Nature Garden project was developed to support student outcomes while providing a general well being and to touch upon experiences that students may not receive at home or in a traditional educational setting. The "hands-on" opportunities provieded to our students through their experience in the Nature Garden are at times unquantifiable but evidenced by the smiles and comments from the students, teachers, and community partners.

In quantifiable terms Wheeler Elementary School was successful in achieving AYP (adequate yearly progress) as measured by our state assessment and NCLB (no child left behind). We are proud to share our school's assessment data.

Hawaii State Assessment Reading Scores:
-State Annual Objective, 30% of students in grades 3 and 5 will meet and/or exceed proficiency
-Wheeler Elementary School 2003, 42% of students in grades 3 and 5 met and/or exceeded proficiency

Hawaii State Assessment Math Scores:
-State Annual Objective, 10% of students in grades 3 and 5 will meet and/or exceed proficiency
-Wheeler Elementary School 2003, 26% of students in grades 3 and 5 met and/or exceeded proficiency