Kaua‘i Master Gardeners bringing free home gardening classes to Puhi farmers market

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Do you have a green thumb – or wish you did? A new tent offering free instructional courses in home gardening is coming to the popular Grove Farm Market in Puhi on the East Side of Kaua‘i, beginning next Saturday.

The courses, which will be held at the first farmers market of each month, are organized by members of the volunteer Kaua‘i Master Gardener program. They will take place behind the master gardeners’ longtime “plant doctor” booth, which sells seeds and offers free horticultural consultations.

“Please come! You will benefit immensely,” said master gardener Rudy Sina. “There’s a lot of backyard gardening here on Kaua‘i … But for a lot of people, the questions that they come up with at the market are questions that can easily be answered.

Rudy Sina (left) and his fellow master gardeners are launching a new monthly program at Grove Farm Market. Photo Courtesy: KMG

“By getting to the class, they can learn to solve problems for themselves,” Sina continued. “They can have access to a supply of seeds and a supply of information that they can benefit from.”


The inaugural course will run from 9 a.m. to noon on June 1 and will be led by guest instructor Basilio “Bunga” Fuertes, who will discuss the basics of at-home vegetable and herb growing.

Fuertes – a former Waimea High School teacher, gardener and member of the National Onion Association – will cover preparation, seed selection, germination, transplantation, fertilization, watering and pests and diseases.

Course participants will be invited to repot and take home seedlings provided by Fuertes.


Thanks to dedicated volunteers like Sina, the Kaua‘i Master Gardener booth at the Grove Farm Market has become a cornerstone of the program. It’s a unique approach among the many master gardener programs active in all 50 states.

“Each master gardener program across the nation has some sort of public-facing outreach, and a lot of them do things out of research stations or extension offices,” said James Keach, an assistant extension agent at the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources’ Kaua‘i extension office and coordinator of the Kaua‘i Master Gardener program.

“We, instead, really focused on this booth. It’s been really great because there’s so much foot traffic and we get to engage with not just folks who are local gardeners, but folks who are visitors and answer some of their plant questions,” Keach continued. “We also have quite a few local farmers who stop by and buy seeds or even bring us problems.”


Last year, Keach and Sina’s fellow master gardener Tom Timmons brought local plant advice to an even wider audience, through a series of gardening columns exclusive to Kaua‘i Now.

Sina has big plans for the future of the new monthly instructional courses: Upcoming classes will be dedicated to topics including plant pests and diseases and fertilizer. Other topics under consideration include air layering, hydroponic gardening and lei making.

The Grove Farm Market is held Saturdays near Kaumuali‘i Highway, directly opposite Kaua‘i Community College. For directions, hours, vendor information and more, click here.

The Kaua‘i Master Gardener program is administered by the University of Hawai‘i to promote sustainable gardening practices and environmental stewardship. Typically, new members participate in a​​ 16-week training course equivalent to a college-level introductory horticulture course, before engaging in volunteer community outreach and education. For more information or to apply to the 2025 Kaua‘i Master Gardener class, click here.

Scott Yunker
Scott Yunker is a journalist living on Kauaʻi. His work for community newspapers has earned him awards and inclusion in the 2020 anthology "Corona City: Voices from an Epicenter."
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