Aina Fest 2017

HAPPENING AT HIP

Last full moon 24 Kohala High school students guided by Dash Kuhr of HIP Agriculture planted 5,000 sq. ft. of kalo at the high school farm. The farm was once a thriving center of agriculture learning and has had a difficult time recovering from when funding was decreased several years ago. With the leadership of HS Principal Janette Snelling, guidance and support from community members, and HIP Agricultureʻs on the ground work; there is an ongoing effort to restore the school farm.

The Hawaii Institute of Pacific Agriculture is excited to announce the Mahi‘ai Scholarship Award being offered to North Kohala and Kanu O Ka Aina high school students. The award will also be given to North Kohala High School sports teams for their laulima (many hands / cooperation) in their school garden. HIP Ag will be giving a total of $5,000 away to high school students and sports teams during the 2017-18 school year. All awards will be distributed during the last month of school, May 2018.

Summer garden programs are so much fun! From nurturing the plants with plenty of water to harvesting the abundance of fruits and veggies that were planted in the spring - we have found ourselves busy and nourished. We've enjoyed partaking in the Kohala Elementary Discovery Garden Summer Blast Program. We stayed hydrated by drinking plenty of coconut water and energized by eating lots of the meat. Can you believe that a few of these students had never tried coconut before?! Another delicious drink we generated was sugar cane juice! With HIP Ag’s manual cane press and sugar can stalks, the students helped crank out more than a gallon of sweet sugar cane juice. Additionally we brought a few interesting fruits for the students to try such as jackfruit, sweet limes and dragonfruit. Education can come in all forms… exploring with the tastebuds is certainly one of them! With all the nourishment, together we planted a pomegranate tree, pineapples, and a miracle berry bush in their school garden.

In recent years, schools have been embracing the garden movement. If you have ever witnessed students enjoying fresh produce straight from the garden or the excitement students express when they find sprouts pop out of the ground, it is easy to understand why. That type of excitement about growing food is infectious. But the real potential of school gardens to reduce obesity, encourage a healthy lifestyle, reconnect youth with the food system, and to build healthier, more vibrant communities is something we can get excited about - tangible and impactful difference that should be a priority in all schools.

permaculture tent webThe 7th Annual Kohala ‘Aina Festival was truly a celebration of food sovereignty through education. Besides lots of conscious music, the festival featured a Hawaiian Culture Village and Permaculture Education tent with hands-on workshops and talks run by educational and community leaders. There was even education surrounding our zero-waste efforts, thanks to Hawai‘i Green Waste, with volunteers providing guidance as to where proper compostables, recyclables and landfill rubbish went.

Before I knew it, school was back in session and HiP Agriculture was jumping right back into the After-School Garden Program at Kohala Elementary School (KES). This school year there are more students enrolled in the garden program than ever before, revealing it to be favored by students of all ages, throughout K-5. The program takes place at KES’s school garden, however, what makes it special is its story, its purpose, and the collective effort that continues to promote its success. How it all began: Once an overgrown gulch surrounding the school, the area has been transformed into beautiful rows of vegetables, flowers, herbs, and fruit trees. The garden was created 5 years ago with major help from principal Danny Garcia and, years later, FoodCorps volunteers and HiP Agriculture contributing the education component. The garden has had many hands to help it come to fruition including HiP Ag, FoodCorps members, volunteers from the community, and, most importantly, the hands of each student at KES that has contributed to its flourishing.

I am happy to say that HIP Ag more specifically myself and our program director Leslie Nugent have educated over 300 youth about gardening and nutrition in the last two years. By the end of this school year I will have taught almost 150 youth- 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Kohala Middle School about gardening, healthy eating, and sustainability issues. Last school year we taught another 150 middle schoolers at Honoka’a Middle. We are building a grassroots agriculture movement on this island that is unstoppable. It has so much momentum and power because people want fresh healthy food, clean water, and a pristine island environment and nobody will be able to stop this mass movement from getting it’s goals.

This school year at Kohala Middle has been an awesome year filled with fun and challenges. The eight graders are tough, very hard to break thru the conditioning, they softened up quite a bit over the year, and some of them actually like the garden now. Whenever I was feeling totally over it, a student would make some amazing comment, which was encouragement to keep working towards raise consciousness in the schools.

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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