Ho’oulu ‘Āina staff and volunteers work to harvest locally grown plants for food and indigenous medicine. The program is located deep in the Kalihi Valley and currently operates under his recently extended 35-year lease.
The land is managed by the DLNR Department of State Parks and the program is led by Puni Jackson. She is a passionate and dedicated Indigenous woman, community leader, and health practitioner who understands and teaches how forests and community health are closely linked. It is said that there are
Wednesday morning, the National Association of Forest Managers honored Jackson with its annual leadership award. She was named by her Heather McMillen of Urban and Community Foresters, the forestry and wildlife division of DLNR.
“Puni has a deep understanding of the vital role of forests in people’s lives and the holistic nature of urban and community forestry,” McMillen wrote in his nomination. “Ho’oulu ‘Aina’s innovative program increases the resilience of her members in Hawaii and other Pacific Island communities and provides an environment of learning and healing for all. People and forest health together.” Her care and dedication to growing is unmatched,” McMillen said.
Kōkua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services is the organizational home of Ho’oulu ‘Āina. KKV is the only community health center in the country with a 100-acre nature reserve as a place for healing.
Ho’oulu ‘Āina has a range of community and cultural programs that connect people with family, culture, community and land. “Puni is leading these efforts in the forest,” McMillen said in her DLNR press release. “She establishes the organization as a healing haven for community members and Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, in a space where native forest regeneration and urban agroforestry thrive, just as people do. I have tried my best.”
Commenting on winning the Forrester Award, Jackson said: I don’t necessarily see our work as forestry all the time. I see it as part of the community. I consider myself a community leader, a cultural leader, and the forest is part of it. ”
She explains that it’s great that Ho’oulu ‘Āina has received national recognition. “I have been part of the national conversation about forests for the past 20 years. It is great to see our work celebrated…indigenous voices, indigenous practices, and the relationships between indigenous peoples and their lands. The work that is inherent in the practice is very important, move forward,” Jackson said.
Ho’oulu ‘Āina regularly hosts hundreds of volunteers to help with gardening, harvesting, and reforestation on its 100-acre (100-acre) site that stretches from valley floor to ridge crest. “KKV and his Ho’oulu ‘Āina have been valued partners for his DOFAW and are very grateful for this partnership,” McMillen said.