A collaborative effort of community organizations, schools, and local businesses seeks to bring bioremediation to Waihonu, the traditional fish pond at the heart of Lili`uokalani Gardens in Hilo.
Genki Hou – making healthy again – is the theme of this effort utilizing indigenous micro organisms to eat sludge that has accumulated in Waihonu in places as much as three feet deep.
The effort is based on the success of bokashi balls in a fish pond on the Kona coast and, perhaps more widely known, the success in the Ala Wai Canal in Honolulu. Here is a link to that effort:
Bokashi is a general term in Japanese for fermented organic matter. Genki is a Japanese term meaning well, healthy, robust.
Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens first heard of the potential for bokashi balls at a meeting of Hui Loko Ia, a group of fish pond guardians and caretakers on Hawai`i Island under the umbrella of The Nature Conservancy. Hui Loko Ia met in Lili`uokalani Gardens in November 2019. In mid-2021, the Hawaiian Airlines inflight magazine Hana Hou carried a story on utilizing bokashi balls to clean the Ala Wai canal in Honolulu. Copies of the magazine were distributed to Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens board members, County Parks & Recreation administration, and others with a stake in cleaning the pond.
During the summer of 2022, Susie Osborne president of Rotary Club of Pahoa took the lead in organizing other Rotary Clubs to adopt a bokashi ball long term project to benefit the community by cleaning Waihonu. Kua O Ka La Charter School is involved as a location for making the balls and providing storage in a greenhouse during the curing period. An educational element will be offered to other schools.
The first manufacture day was in early November at which 50 people attended and 1,000 balls were made. The second manufacture day was December 3 at which 40 people attended and 700 balls were set aside for the late December ball toss.
Rotarians from east Hawai`i and Hiroshima joined County officials and Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens Saturday, December 3, to toss the first batch of 700 balls into Waihonu. Each of 100 people present tossed a minimum of three balls into Waihonu, shouting “Genki Hou” with each toss. The theme name was developed by Councilmember and Rotarian Susan Lee Loy.
Several participants tossed more bokashi balls for complete coverage of seven test sites in the northern section of the pond from the iconic arched stone bridge to the stone wall along Lihiwai Street. Seven control sites and the test sites will be measured and tested over the next several months.
“This is part of a greater plan to restore Waihonu,” said Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens president K.T. Cannon-Eger. “Removal of invasive seaweed and repair of crumbling pond walls are two more major elements of a plan that will take approximately five years to accomplish. The end result will be a healthy and productive fish pond for generations to come.”
The next Genki Hou Waihonu ball toss will happen immediately prior to Garden Enchantment, the 6th annual illumination of the gardens, on Friday December 23 at 5 p.m. Look for the Rotary Clubs banners in the small pavilion near the arched stone bridge.
For more information on Genki Hou Waihonu, to volunteer or to donate, contact Susie Osborne at email@example.com or (808) 640-3439. For volunteer opportunities and events taking place in Lili`uokalani Gardens, contact K.T. Cannon-Eger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (808) 895-8130. Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens also maintains a Facebook page.