Garden Delights

Hawaii Healing Garden Festivals — a series of annual events that focus on cultural healing arts and green sustainable living

By: By Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi


Hawaii Healing Garden, Oahu Festival

Admission is $5 on opening day (free for kids aged 13 and younger); an evening concert will be an additional charge. There will be fees of $20 to $75 for activities on subsequent days.

 A Healing Garden Festival on Oahu // ©
A Healing Garden Festival on Oahu
The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses,” said author and artist Hanna Rion.

Katherine Fisher believes that quote from Rion, captures the essence of the Hawaii Healing Garden Festivals — a series of annual events on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island that focuses on cultural healing arts and green sustainable living.

Fisher and her partner Michael Saiz launched the festivals on Kauai in 2005. Oahu’s festival began the following year; this year, it’s scheduled from Aug. 23-27 at various locations.

“The festivals bring health education outdoors in beautiful natural settings and places of cultural significance where people can learn, have fun and discover unique products and services,” said Fisher. “They can listen to talks and watch demonstrations by health experts, experience acupuncture, sample organic foods and sniff aromatherapy products. By doing this, we hope all of their senses will be reawakened, and that they’ll feel inspired and empowered to make healthy lifestyle choices.”

Fisher describes Waimea Valley as the ideal venue for the opening day of the Oahu festival. Measuring over 1,800 pristine acres, it is the island’s last completely intact traditional Hawaiian ahupuaa (land division extending from the mountains to the sea).

“Waimea Valley is an extraordinary living classroom,” said Fisher. “An amazing variety of plants grow there, including many native species used in healing.”

Scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the event features booths run by environmental groups; children’s programs, including gardening; a Hawaiian music concert; a lei contest; a silent auction; and a Health Pavilion showcasing health foods, supplements, organic products, sustainability services, books and plants.

At the pavilion, attendees can try various modalities, including Hawaiian lomilomi massage; sample Chinese herbs; and learn about plants used to control weight, prevent and manage hypertension and diabetes and strengthen the heart and immune system.

Seven distinguished health practitioners will speak about plants used in the traditional healing arts of Polynesia, India, the Philippines, China, Japan and North and South America.

“There’s a lot of common ground,” said Fisher. “People around the world use many of the same medicinal plants, although the applications may be different. For example, the Hawaiians use olena [turmeric] topically for earaches while the Chinese take it internally as an antibiotic.”

Fisher hopes to see many visitors at the five-day event.

“Good health is of interest to everyone, everywhere, of any age, and the festival will add a whole new cultural dimension to their stay on Oahu,” she said.