Hawaiʻi Institute of Pacific Agriculture

Aina Fest 2017

Meet Our Team

Dashiell Kuhr

Executive Director and Instructor

Dashiell (Dash) Kuhr, founder and director of Hawai'i Institute of Pacific Agriculture (HIP Agriculture), is the lead facilitator for the organization, and personally dedicated to the restoration of human and environmental health.

Dash has educated and mentored hundreds of youth and young adults on the benefits of healthy eating and hands-on gardening skills. Working with non-profit organizations, food cooperatives and farms, Dash has lead and developed numerous gardening and sustainability initiatives.

Dash apprenticed under master permaculture designer Tom Baldwin (who studied directly with Bill Mollison, Geoff Laton, and Bullock brothers) for three years, as a farm manager, managing one of the most diverse and well designed permaculture farms on Hawaii Island. He received his Permaculture Design Certificate from Geoff Lawton and attended a Permaculture Convergence at Uluwehi Farm and Nursery.

Currently, Dash leads Living Farm Internship courses and youth program development at HIP Agriculture, while also conducting professional permaculture design work and installations. Current projects included installation of 60 dwarf coconuts and 300 bananas in polyculture systems and permaculture design for a 120 acre food production and reforestation project at Inhabit Hawai’i.

Rooted in North Kohala, Hawai'i, Dash is dedicated to creating a post-carbon civilization that is able to thrive while reforesting and revitalizing the landscape. Dash is thoroughly committed to youth and ensuring they have access to fresh food and land, food sovereignty, Earth justice, and a localized economy that creates peaceful and happy communities.

Dash, with his wife Erika and three beautiful children Cyrus, Jyoti and Kumari are advocates of healthy eating, exercise, and Ayurvedic medicine. He enjoys gardening, swimming, surfing, yoga, and family time.

Erika Kuhr

Co-Director, Culinary Director

Founder and nutrition and food coordinator for Hawai'i Institute of Pacific Agriculture (HIP Agriculture), Erika is dedicated to healing people and the earth through delicious food and healing spices.

Erika received her B.S. in Food Science and Nutrition and B.A. in Spanish from San Diego State University. Since then, she has studied alternative medicine and food preparation that increases digestive health such as cheese-making and cultured vegetables. She is dedicated to creating positive human culture around integrative health based within locavorism. She is very passionate about harvesting, cooking and preparing the easy to grow and very abundant Polynesian starch crops into delicious comfort foods.

A full-time mother of three children, Erika is the head land mama, providing support, guidance for the HIP Team and HIP Ag’s residents.

Erika likes to cook, study aromatherapy and herbal medicine, swim, dance hula and make cheese.

Lauren Ruotolo

Program Manager

Lauren is HIP Ag’s Program Manager, overseeing our farmer trainings and youth programs, and serving as Educational Coordinator for our annual event, the Kohala ‘Aina Festival. She works to keep the logistics rolling here on the land between all of our wonderful students, staff, and educators.

Lauren has been working in the environmental sustainability movement since she was young, protesting to keep her beloved hiking trails from becoming a golf course. In college she helped implement a recycling program and community garden on campus. This is also where she started teaching ecology to local high school students through experiential volunteer projects like studying phytoplankton populations and building a mock oyster shell reef to increase biodiversity. Seeing students who struggled in the classroom but found joy outside struck a chord with Lauren. After graduating with a degree in Sociology and Environmental Science, she joined AmeriCorps where she taught K-12 watershed ecology on the shorelines of Cape Cod. She also assisted with the maintenance and education of various agricultural projects; seaweed aquaculture and pollinator gardens being her favorites.

Over the past few years, Lauren has held various positions including farmhand, garden designer, guide at a horticultural therapy center, and environmental technician. When Lauren isn’t working for HIP or volunteering in local politics, you can find her hiking or swimming the shorelines with her dog, Fern.

Nicholas Logan

Farm Manager

Nicholas is our farm manager. He served as HIP Ag’s farm manager for the 2012 through 2014 seasons and we are pleased to welcome him back for the 2017 season. Nicholas brings with him an intimate knowledge of HIP’s plantings and projects, and a dedication to growing Hawaii’s food self-sufficiency.

Nicholas’ agricultural experience began on his family farm in southern California in 2004 while he attended college studying permaculture and sustainability, among other subjects. Along the way, Nicholas developed and presented educational theater about genetically modified corn contamination to autonomous indigenous communities in southern Mexico, prepared food for university students in Oregon, and was a veterinary assistant in a low-cost animal shelter in Arizona.

When he is not stoking out the land and the farm community, Nicholas enjoys playing bass guitar, skateboarding down hills, and finding novel ways of making burritos out of locally grown ingredients.

Sarah Freeman

Farm Manager

Sarah co-manages HIP Ag's Halawa Farm with her partner Nicholas. Her background spans Social and Environmental Activism and Culinary Arts. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Studies from UC Berkeley with a concentrated focus on urban agriculture, conflict resolution and city repair. Sarah brings with her a depth of experience in project management, communications, logistics coordination, and healing with whole foods. She has worked on community-initiated projects and actions in the U.S., India, Brazil, and Ecuador. These projects ranged from improving sustainability practices at the Santa Barbara City College campus and community, to women’s empowerment and traditional arts programs for youth in India, to providing communications and logistical support to communities defending their territories from oil drilling and mega dam projects within the Amazon Basin, while working with Amazon Watch.

As a chef, Sarah focuses on seasonal and traditionally prepared foods. She is excited to work with the abundance the land at has to offer on the Big Island and share it with her community. Aside from her extensive experience as a natural foods chef and community activist, Sarah is passionate about the healing arts including nutrition, yoga, meditation, and bodywork. Off the farm, she can be found dancing salsa, scuba diving, and whipping up delectable delights in the kitchen.

Justine Garcia

Communications Coordinator

Born and bred in Brooklyn, NY (which also happens to be the name of her blog), Justine is super excited to join the HIP Agriculture team as its newest Communications Coordinator.

Her passion for cooking and food started at an early age as she watched her mom create amazing meals in their kitchen. It wasn’t until she got older that she realized this passion could also be translated into a career, which has allowed her to work everywhere from budding food startups in Brooklyn to her last role as the Social Media Specialist at Food.com, in which she helped cultivate and grow its global social media presence. She’s not sure whether her love for food or her appetite for it is larger, but what she does know is that she is eager to learn as much as she can about it because she feels as though nourishing the mind is just as important as nourishing the body.

Having spent the majority of her life living in New York City, she’s now ready to trade in its bright lights for star lights, get her hands dirty, and become one with the land. When she’s not cooking (or eating), she can be found photographing her latest kitchen creation for her blog, biking, volunteering, traveling, and catching up on her guilty pleasure: reality shows.

To practice and teach ecologically conscious agriculture, empowering individuals and communities to cultivate alternative systems of living that restore human and environmental health.

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