Now in its third year, the Grow Hawaiian festival at Bishop Museum blends modern sustainability with traditional Hawaiian culture. As educational as it is entertaining, the festival provides opportunities for hands-on exploration.

Our family is looking to start gardening and landscaping, and one of our goals is to incorporate native plants when possible. We already have the hardy, ubiquitously Hawaiian Ti plant. I learned that the ‘aweoweo plant could make a good hedge- it grows quickly, is drought-resistant, and has edible leaves with medicinal properties. Several types of native plants, including saplings of the noble koa tree, were available for purchase. Even better than the plant selection, though, was the wealth of information available at the booths. Hardly any question was too difficult for the experts on hand.

Handcrafted items, including many woven or created from plants, were also on display for purchase. These included kapa cloth, woven lauhala, and traditional tools. Several artists had demonstrations, and attendees were invited to participate in activities such as ‘awa preparation and pounding kalo.

Hawaiian Electric, the event’s sponsor, provided information on conservation and climate change, and children’s games on electrical safety and clean energy. Other games and crafts for keiki included Hawaiian language activities. The festival opened with a hule performance by Ka Pa Hula o Ka Lei Lehua followed by live Hawaiian music performed by Weldon Kekauoha, Kaukahi, and Waipuna.

With clear sunny skies, the day was perfect for a picnic on the lawn. Several lunch options were available, and each smelled even tastier than the last. From chili or laulau, the only way to finish off a meal in the warm weather was with shave ice. Every family could be seen with at least one cone.

And as if the festival itself weren’t enough to keep you busy, the museum’s exhibits and halls were all open for visiting as well. The grounds were filled with families enjoying both the festival and the exhibits, and most boasted at least one purchase- many of them plants. If even half of those seedlings grow to maturity, the benefit to our local environment will be tremendous!


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