Around 200 people made the trek out to Kualoa Ranch’s Hale Moilii – on the banks of an ancient (and still-functional) Hawaiian fishpond – even though morning dawned grey and rainy.
In fact, the event was perhaps the only place on the island not raining that day, making it the best location to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon celebrating International Permaculture Day.
Interactive workshops and informational sessions were conducted throughout the day by Mana ‘Ai, Each One Teach One Farms, artist Rachel Elias, Off Da Beaten Path, Permaculturists Drew Wilkinson & Tia Meer, Babes Against Biotech, Hawaii Seed, Oahu Moms on a Mission, and Transition Oahu, with live music by local taro farmer Hanale Bishop, Lucie Lynch, and veteran Permaculturist Bill Howes’ amazing band Jungle Rocket.
US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, spoke about the legislation she recently helped introduce in the House of Representatives & US Senate requiring labeling of GMO foods by the FDA. She also spoke about the ‘Pono’ way of going forward to creating the change we want to see: by educating people through respect, and leading by example.
Other speakers included 7-year old Leo Campagna (CEO of The Littlest Co-Op) shared about the co-operative business he recently launched, Down to Earth CEO and Hawaii Organic Farming Association (HOFA) President Mark Fergusson shared insights about the work of HOFA, Jayme Barton of the Hawaii Agricultural Research Center talked about the Non-GMO ringspot-resistant papaya currently under development (and asked for support), Vivian Best spoke about giving access to fresh healthy food to the disadvantaged through her GIFT program, and cultural food activist Daniel Anthony spoke about land & water issues, and the simplest radical steps we can take towards reclaiming our food sovereignty.
After the speaking program, everyone joined hands in a massive circle which Daniel led in pule, giving thanks for the opportunity to share and strengthen our community bonds through the simple act of saving & sharing seeds. Then, doors were open to the exchange room, where we witnessed the most respectful enthusiastic frenzy these eyes have ever seen: people were actually going out of their way to ensure that each got the plants & seeds they needed:
Such a beautiful experience, one that lingered with us all even one week later when we ran into each other in the streets of Honolulu… we can’t wait until the next one!