For the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, WSL teamed up with Haleʻiwa-based non-profit Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation, and global WSL One Ocean partners SHISEIDO and YETI, to restore native wetland ecosystems and learn about the benefits of composting on their Kōkua Learning Farm.
Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation (KHF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit that supports environmental education in the schools and communities of Hawaiʻi. KHF's mission is to provide students with experiences that will enhance their appreciation for and understanding of the environment so they will be lifelong stewards of the earth. KHF programs include ʻĀINA In Schools, 3Rs School Program, Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation Field Trip Grants, Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation Project Grants, and Plastic Free Hawaiʻi.
In 2019, the organization acquired 8 acres of land in the heart of Haleʻiwa on the North Shore of Oʻahu. At their site, they are establishing agricultural, educational, and retail activities that benefit the community and promote local food, waste reduction, and environmental stewardship. The property houses the Kōkua Community Center, the Kōkua Learning Farm and three mission-aligned businesses, the Kōkua General Store, Kōkua Vintage and the ʻĀINA Farm Stand.
For their restoration day, the team volunteered on the Kōkua Learning Farm which is an educational and agricultural destination, encouraging learners of all ages to actively support their local food systems. The farm sits in the moku of Waialua, which extends from Kaʻena Point to Waimea Valley, and in the ahupuaʻa of Paʻalaʻa kai, which extends from Paukauila Stream to Anahulu Stream.
Due to the farm's location in Haleʻiwa, a large amount of runoff water from nearby roadways flows onto the farm. One of the first projects for the foundation after acquiring the farm was to assess water flow and management. KHF worked with fluvial geomorphologist Greg Koonce to develop a plan to manage and filter water as it flows from Haleʻiwa Town, onto the farm and eventually, to the ocean.
Constructed native wetlands are crucial for the health and biodiversity of our ecosystems. They provide habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, many of which are threatened or endangered. They also help to improve water quality by filtering pollutants and excess nutrients from runoff. Constructed wetlands also help to manage stormwater and reduce the risk of flooding during heavy rains.
With the help of experts, volunteers and KHF staff, the constructed native wetland zones were established. These zones sit on the perimeter of the farm and are full of beneficial native plants like ʻaeʻae, ‘akulikuli, ‘ahuʻawa, ʻihiʻihilauākea, and neke. Since the establishment of these zones, KHF has seen native birds returning to the area, benefits of water quality and flooding mitigation.
The WSL team further helped develop the farm's constructed native wetland zones by planting ʻakiʻaki and ʻaʻaliʻi alongside KHF staff and youth from the community.
After the team worked in the constructed native wetlands, they transitioned over to the location on the farm where an in-vessel compost machine will one day live. This compost machine will be able to process up to 400 pounds of food scraps, and 600 pounds of mulch and green waste per day. In 3-4 weeks, it will produce half a cubic yard of nutrient rich compost per day, speeding up a process that typically takes 6-9 months.
The WSL Team learned about the connections between soil health and ocean health while harvesting vermicast from the vermicomposting bins on the farm. They discussed how when the soil is healthy, it is able to absorb and retain water, reducing the amount of runoff that enters waterways and ultimately, the ocean. Healthy soil is able to filter pollutants, such as pesticides and fertilizers, which can also end up in the ocean harming coral reefs and marine life.
Overall it was an exciting day on the Kōkua Learning Farm full of education, connection and restoration.
How to get involved with Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation:
- Sign up for Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation's newsletter.
- Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation hosts Community Workdays on the Kōkua Learning Farm on the first Saturday of each month. Registration is required. Learn more and register here.
- The Kōkua General Store is a bulk, refill, low-waste lifestyle store located in Haleʻiwa. 100% of proceeds from the Kōkua General Store, Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation's mission-aligned storefront, benefit the foundation.
- Become a Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation Member to support their mission and receive special benefits like 10% off their mission-aligned storefronts.
- Follow the Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation and the Kōkua Learning Farm on instagram.
As surfers, the ocean is our playground and our stadium. Getting involved in protecting and conserving the ocean is critical for us today and for future generations. Tell us what you are doing us by posting on social media with the hashtag #WSLOneOcean and tagging @wsl and @wsloneocean in your posts. You can learn more and get involved at WSLOneOcean.org.