“Planting a seed of inspiration is the first step,” says Michael Saiz, cofounder of the Hawaii Healing Garden Festivals. “It is an act of intention that sets you on a learning path of nurturing, awakening and evolutionary experience.”
What began on the Garden Island of Kaua`i in 2005 as a pilot project with a seed grant has now grown into an annual statewide festival series, showcasing Hawaii’s cultural healing arts, health and wellness and “green” sustainable living.
The Hawaii Healing Garden Festivals are the brainchild of Saiz and Katherine Fisher, co-founders of the festivals and HawaiiHealthGuide.com, the state’s leading online health and wellness resource. The festival idea evolved from their direct experience with Hawaii’s many cultural health practitioners, and an ongoing discovery of the diverse health and wellness, agricultural and environmental resources across the islands.
Each island hosts a day of family-friendly events designed for children, adults and seniors, including: educational and cultural presentations; organic food and beverages from local restaurants; a healing arts fair; and performances by world-class musicians, such as Paula Fuga andMakana. Throughout the week following the festivals, workshops,
organic farm tours and cooking and art classes are presented at unique locations around each island featuring local practitioners and experts.
“The idea was to create an educational opportunity for the community to gather with cultural health practitioners, health educators, teachers, botanical experts, chefs and nutritionists, gardeners and farmers, agriculture and sustainability experts, health-oriented businesses and nonprofit organizations to showcase Hawaii’s growing healthy and green services and cultural resources,” says Saiz. “Now, take all this amazing potential and place it outside in nature and at cultural and educational sites across the state, and you have an empowering experience that celebrates Hawaii’s culture, health and environment.”
The statewide festivals offer interactive nature experiences and cultural immersions at important cultural centers and botanical gardens such as the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden on the Island of Hawai`i, and O`ahu’s new Hi`ipaka center and botanical garden at Waimea Valley. The 2008 festivals have also expanded to include program
collaborations with Malama Kaua`i at their new sustainability center in Kilauea, as well as the Sustainable Living Institute ofMaui at the Maui Community College in Kahului.
“The holistic approach to health and environment is inherent within Hawaiian culture and other native cultural traditions worldwide,” says Fisher. “Cultural knowledge and traditions originate from our environments and our personal relationship with the air, land, water, sea, plants, herbs, minerals, foods, seasons and climate. All are important elements of medicinal traditions such as Hawaiian La`au Lapa`au, Ayurveda—used daily by many millions of people in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and Chinese,Tibetan, Filipino and Native American cultures.”
Fisher is currently completing a Chinese medicine degree at the Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Honolulu. She has studied Ayurveda, Chinese and Tibetan medicine in India, China and Nepal, as well as the Hawaiian healing arts on her home island of Kaua`i.
“Food is medicine!” she says. “It is the foundation of our health and our connection to the environment. The quality of our foods and environment is an essential element in health or disease. And healthy food is ground zero in the prevention and treatment of disease.”
The festivals explore our connection to food, health and the environment with presentations covering “Ayurveda’s Spices of Life” and “Chinese DietaryTherapy,” as well workshops like the “Farm toTable” organic farm tours and cooking classes, the “Medicine at Your Feet” healing arts hike and tincture-making classes, and Organic Certification
classes offered by the Hawaii Organic Farmers Association.
The 2008 festival guest presenters include: Hawaiian—Kaipo Kaneakua, Levon Ohai, Uala Lenta and Kumu Kehaulani Kekua Ayurveda—Margo Prem Uma Gal CAP, Dr. Tamar Hoffman and Darci Frankel Filipino Healing Arts & Medicinal Plants—Patrica Aguilana, RN, and Virgil Mayor Apostel Chinese Medicine and Qi Kung—licensed acupuncturists Leon Letoto, Michael Hamilton and David Leonard, and visiting artist Charlotte Abernathy
Additional presentations by Dr. Lorrin Pang, aMaui-based scientist, medical doctor and World Health Organization consultant; Dr. Hector Valenzuela from the Department of Tropical Agriculture, UH Manoa; and Dr. Michael Ancharski, ND.
International speaker Jerome River Black of Herbs America will give presentations and workshops on the healing pharmacopoeia of the Amazon Rainforest and the Andes Mountains of South America. He will explain the pharmacology, herbology and the cosmology of numerous tribes.
Additional presenters and programs will be announced for each island.
The community is invited to collaborate, support and participate in the festivals and workshops on all the islands. Presentation and workshop proposals are now being accepted for consideration in the festival programs. Exhibitor booths are available for businesses and nonprofit organizations. Volunteers are invited to help with organizing,
planning and festival-day activities, speaker support and workshops. Booth packets and event expo information is available online at
www.HawaiiHealingGarden.com or by calling 808-638-0888 (O`ahu).
Those interested in becoming sponsors or contributors, are invited to contact the Hawaii Health Guide for further information.The Hawaii Healing Garden Festivals are presented by Hawai`i Health Guide with support from the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Donations are facilitated via the local nonprofitThe Forward Foundation 501(c)3.
Media kits and more info may be found online at
The Hawaii Tourism Authority, Bishop Museum, Waimea Valley Hi`ipaka LLC, Malama Kauai, University of Hawaii, Maui Community College,The Sustainable Institute ofMaui, Amy Greenwell Botanical Garden, Carolyn Quan Gallery, Kaua`i Federal Credit Union, Young Brothers, the Forward Foundation, Hawaii Health Guide and many other local businesses and individuals.