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.
After a dry summer there was very little growing but clump grass and some raised herb gardens. During the first quarter of the school year HIP Agriculture has been mentoring students on how and why they should cultivate traditional polynesian crops. Many of the students have lost connection to traditional crops and knowledge of how to cultivate them. Working closely with substitute agriculture teacher Payton Carling, HIP Ag has been providing students with lessons on the importance of growing staple canoe crops in restoring the health of the land and people. “The planet is headed towards an unprecedented global food crisis brought on by climate change degradation of soils and water here in Hawaii and around the world. We have to act quickly as island communities to restore our expert agriculture skills and empower the next generation of youth to raise food to feed our community,” says Dash Kuhr.
HIP Agriculture will also be supporting a guest speaker series bringing out Hawaiian cultural leaders to inspire the agriculture students to reconnect with the land and culture. Already Kumu Lanakila from the Hamakua Cultural Center has presented on the history and cultural significance of Haloa. Other speakers will cover topics such as crops used for canoe building, soil analysis, building soil fertility and nutritional density testing. Dash believes it is going to take a community wide efforts of leaders to inspire young people to get involved in being part of the solution.
Students have been working hard to prep the beds, amend the soil, prepare the huli for planting and mulch the field with wood chips. The student group learned about garden design, amending soil, planting techniques design, and the Hawaiian planting calendar through hands-on participation. The students are all eligible to receive the HIP Ag Mahiʻai award with a top prize of $1,000 for their work and you can see the extra effort.
The planting took place on the full moon which according to the Hawaiian Moon calendar, it is traditionally believed that root plants and bananas will be prolific under the full moon whose as the plant’s shape is desired to be as round and perfect as the moon. For ancient farmers, the position of the moon was an important consideration in planting and harvesting. Planting on the full moon makes use of the astrological cycles and gravitational pulls the support and effect seeds, plants and tides.
Taro can be cultivated both in the uplands as high as 4,000 feet, as dry-land taro, and in marshy land irrigated by streams-wetland taro, or taro lo`i. The students field is dry-land and situated in Kapaau which is about 400 ft above sea level. Dryland or Upland taro is ready for harvest 8-10 months after planting. As harvest time approaches, the leaves turn yellowish and the petioles are short, usually less than 2 ft long. The corms protrude from the ground.
The goal is that this September planting will be ready to harvest and Kuʻi for May Day and end of the year celebrations. The Mahiʻai awards will also be presented at this time to the top farmers. HIP agriculture is hoping to raise community awareness about the project so that more parents and grandparents can encourage youth to restore Kohala agriculture and hopefully claim their Mahiʻai award.
At the heart of HIP Ag is a commitment to personal growth and awakening that empowers individuals to be activated leaders for change. Through the empowerment of our island's youth, we are working to create the next generation of farmers, teachers, and community leaders.For more info contact HIPagriculture@gmail.com or 808-889-6316