KAILUA-KONA — The ninth annual Aina Fest in Hawi this weekend will have all the basic entertainment and food you would find at a festival on Hawaii Island. But to stay true to its mission of sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture, the festival opens by giving back to the Earth.
Paul Izak and Emil Kmetovic will lead a permaculture planting activity on festival grounds at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Kohala Village HUB Barn, featuring fruit trees, taro and other traditional canoe crops and tropical plants. The planting is just the beginning of the annual festival celebrating agriculture on Hawaii Island.
“The festival energy, bringing the music and other activities for folks, gets people to the door,” festival producer Maya Parish said. “It’s really about how we can celebrate, come together and spark and inspire folks to walk away from this festival with ideas and go back into their communities and do the work.”
Aina Fest is the creation of husband and wife team Dash and Erika Kuhr and their organization, Hawaii Institute of Pacific Agriculture. Sales from tickets to Aina Fest help support HIP Agriculture and its mission to practice and teach ecologically conscious agriculture.
“To have an event that’s super fun and inspiring and also supports agriculture on Hawaii Island, I think it’s a great thing,” Dash Kuhr said. “I’m happy we are able to create this model.”
Other agriculture activities at the festival include a “Building Resilience” forum, also at 12:30 p.m., led by panelists known in Hawaii as environmental and cultural leaders such as Pua Case and Ruth Aloua. A biodynamic farming workshop will be led by Bobby Grimes, and an imu workshop with Daniel Anthony will give festival goers the chance to learn how to prepare and cook food to feed a family using the traditional Hawaiian oven.
Nahko, the frontman for the band Medicine for the People, will be headlining a lineup of musicians playing at the festival, including John Keawe, OK2Change, Ka‘ahele, Hawane Rios, Markus Mars, Ydine, Sierra Marin and Noelani Love. Both Kuhr and Parish said the musicians playing at the festival are artist who support island agriculture programs and the island community.
“We chose musicians aligned with our message and goal,” Kuhr said.
The people behind HIP Agriculture and Aina Fest hope festival attendees walk away with the inspiration to help create a culture of sustainable agriculture on Hawaii Island.
“We do have all of these means here in terms of the year-long growing season, the rich soil in the north of the island and abundant rain, and we have a lot of agricultural lands,” Parish said. “But we’re still importing about 90 percent of our food, so there is a big disconnect there. (Dash) is very serious about turning that around, in a way that’s also regenerative for the earth and not destroying it.”
Info: Tickets for Aina Fest are $50 in advance and $60 at the door, and can be purchased at ainafest.brownpapertickets.com/. Keiki under 12 receive free admission. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. with an opening blessing at noon. For a full schedule of events, visit hipagriculture.org.