The end year is always a flurry of excitement between the longer days, final assignments, May Day preparation and performances, and graduating students. HIP Agriculture was excited to be a part of that energy within the Kohala Complex through farm field trips, pa’i’ai pounding, a health fair, and farmer mentorship. We are so honored to have a community that embraces agriculture and nutrition education as we strive towards increasing food sovereignty in N. Kohala and beyond. Here is a breakdown of what we were up to during the busyness of last month:
Farm Field Trips: HIP Ag had a blast hosting the entire 2nd and 3rd grade of Kohala Elementary School to our farm where students participated in activities of lei making, food forest sensory tour (smelling thai basil, curry tree leaves, rosemary and identifying various fruit trees), feeding cows ti leaves, building compost piles, looking at microorganisms under microscopes, plus learning, tasting, and planting cacao seeds. Students and teachers alike were amazed that chocolate actually grows off trees! And of course the cuteness of the baby cow was a major hit as well as the creative lei jewelry embedded with flowers and herbs designed by students.
Pa’i’ai Pounding: Over the course of one week in May, Dash Kuhr and Hualalai Keohuloa served all K-5 students, an average of 300 students, with a pa’i’ai making class. We brought six papa kuʻi ʻai (poi boards) and 12 pohaku kuʻi ʻai (stones) for the students to engage with. The class started out and ended in circle, sharing about cultural practices and terminology and closing with student experiences with the practice. Students took turns grinding their stones against pieces of kalo grown at and by students at the high school. The majority of students loved the taste of their pa’i’ai and wanted to bring it home to share with their family as well as pound more.
Health Fair: HIP Ag teachers Erika Kuhr and Lauren Ruotolo taught 60 Kohala Middle School students at their health fair with a lesson on Herbal Tea Remedies. The students tried three different healing teas; “Sleep Aide,” “Brain Tonic,” and “Immune Booster,” and learned how to implement herbal teas into their self-care routines.
Mahi’ai Mentorship Award & Internship: The High School farm was in production during the last month of school, full of bounty and beauty. Not to mention the 125lbs of lau leaf harvested for the Kohala Complex Cafeteria from the farm, the HS Natural Resources class of 30 students, lead teacher Aoloa Patao, and HIP Ag staff Dash and Hualalai, worked hard to get the farm to where it’s at today. The Mahi’ai mentorship program ended with an all day, on campus celebration open to other students and teachers; where the HS Natural Resources class prepared a feast from the taro and vegetables grown at the school farm. Students cooked, cleaned, and pounded taro into poi. They harvested, processed and prepared vegetables and enjoyed a feast which included their hand pounded poi, beef lu’au stew, stir fried veggies and other dishes brought by students.
Announced in the beginning of the school year, HIP Ag vowed to give awards to the top three “Mahi’ai” participants who gave the most diligence and effort into the HS farm. The three Mahi’ai’s were announced on May 18th with 1st place ($1,000) going to Ryan Kealoha, 2nd place ($500) to MJ Macaspac, and 3rd place ($250) to Aotealoa Masalosalo. Funds were raised through our annual fundraiser, Aina Fest. We are so proud of and impressed by these students for their hard work. HIP Ag also launched its first Summer HS Internship, a 6-week hands on learning experience in farming. Four HS students from the Natural Resource class are participating this summer and one of them is a HIP Ag Mahi’ai Awardee.
A special thanks to everyone who made this years programming possible. Mahalo to the incredible leadership of principles Danny Garcia, Janette Snelling, and Alan Brown, Teachers/ Educators: Aolao Patao, Hualalai Keohuola, Payton Carling, Kayla Sinotte, June Guo, Nancy Cat Jones, and Amy Carlson, Dash and Erika Kuhr, Board Members Gayle Yamasaki and Vanessa Stone, and the many others who supported our efforts. A very special thanks to Hawaii Community Foundation STEM Learning Partnership Grant, O’io Fund, and the individual donors that support our work in this community. We could not have accomplished so much without your support and guidance. A sincere mahalo.