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City allows banana trees at community gardens


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POSTED: Friday, October 09, 2009

Question: What is the regulation for the Sgt. E. Smith Community Garden across from Wheeler Army Airfield? It is becoming a banana patch, with the gardens surrounded by tall banana plants around the perimeter and growing toward the center.

Answer: There is nothing prohibiting users of any of the city's 10 community gardens from planting banana trees.

Plot-holders are not allowed to plant “;drug plants”; or trees, such as mango or banyan, “;that get real huge,”; said Nathan Wong, the city's community garden coordinator.

Banana trees are allowed because they don't grow as big as mango trees, he said. He also said that many of the gardeners in Wahiawa are ethnic Polynesians and Filipinos, who favor bananas.

Other than the restrictions named, “;We don't tell (gardeners) what to plant,”; Wong said. “;They're allowed to plant any kind of fruit, vegetables and even flowers, because flowers attract the pollinators.”;

Wong also pointed out that the plots at Wahiawa are about eight times larger than the plots in town. There are 465 20-by-40-foot plots in Wahiawa (see hsblinks.com/un).

So who was Sgt. E. Smith, and why is the garden named after him?

Wong explained that “;Schofield Army Barracks let us use the land and cleared it and got it ready for the gardeners.”;

In return, Schofield officials asked that the Wahiawa Community Garden be named after Sgt. Elmelindo Rodrigues Smith, a platoon sergeant with the 1st Platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry of the 4th Infantry Division, because of his bravery in the Vietnam War.

Wong forwarded us information from Wikipedia about Smith, who was born in Wahiawa and died Feb. 16, 1967, at the age of 31.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor “;for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty”; while leading his platoon against the enemy in Vietnam.

Diamond Head Fence

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply says it has painted the fence installed around its Diamond Head 180-foot Reservoir to address community concerns about the aesthetics of the fencing.

In April (see hsblinks.com/up), someone asked Kokua Line why the agency “;was allowed to erect a garish fence on the west slope of Diamond Head,”; a state monument.

The Board of Water Supply said the fence was needed to safeguard an important water supply facility and to keep people away.

In evaluating various alternatives to disguising the fence, officials worked with the Diamond Head Citizens Advisory Committee, said Dean Nakano, deputy manager and chief engineer.

The agency and advisory committee mutually agreed on painting the fence. The “;Bryce Lodge”; brown color selected was supported by the Diamond Head and Waikiki neighborhood boards and the Outdoor Circle, Nakano said.

“;We appreciate the public's patience as we sought community input to reach a mutually acceptable solution,”; he said.

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Write to “;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).