‘Ohi‘a Love Fest goes virtual

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island file photo

    The ‘ohi‘a ‘ai, or mountain apple, blooms brightly deep in the Kaua‘i Food Forest on the North Shore.

HONOLULU — The COVID-19 pandemic is providing the opportunity for ‘ohi‘a lovers across Hawai‘i to participate in the annual ‘Ohi‘a Love Fest, which previously had been held as an in-person event in Hilo.

Anyone, anywhere, can now celebrate Hawai‘i’s most-abundant tree, ‘ohi‘a lehua, during a week-long virtual event.

‘Ohi‘a is critical to providing the water we drink, keeping our ocean reefs clean, and is important to the native Hawaiian culture.

This year’s ‘Ohi‘a Love Fest, the fourth annual, runs from Monday, Nov. 16 through Saturday, Nov. 21. ‘Ohi‘a-lovers of all ages will be treated to a fun-filled and educational week of workshops, videos, arts, crafts and cultural sharing. All activities are free, but some do require advance registration.

As in past years, the festival celebrates ‘ohi‘a lehua as Hawai‘i’s most ecologically and culturally important tree species. ‘Ohi‘a is currently under threat from two deadly fungal pathogens, resulting in a disease known as rapid ‘ohi‘a death.

Included in the week’s activities is information about how ROD spreads and the actions needed to protect remaining healthy ‘ohi‘a.

Below are just a few of the week’s events. All require advanced registration at ohialovefest.eventbrite.com, www.Facebook.com/RapidOhiaDeath, or www.Instagram.com/OhiaLife.

• “How to Grow ‘Ohi‘a in Residential Yards and Community Gardens” by JC Watson of the ‘Ohi‘a Legacy Initiative, Monday, Nov. 16, 10 a.m.;

• “A Day in the Life of the ‘Ohi‘a Field Crew,” by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 10 a.m.;

• “Cultural Importance of ‘Ohi‘a: Past and Present,” from Bishop Museum’s cultural experts, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1 p.m.;

• “How to Identify ‘Ohi‘a by Species and Variety,” by Dr. JB Friday of the University of Hawai‘i Cooperative Extension Service, Thursday, Nov. 19, 10 a.m.;

• “How to Collect ‘Ohi‘a Seeds to Help Preserve these Trees for Future Generations,” by Marian Chau of Kalehua Consulting, Friday, Nov. 20, 10 a.m.;

• “How to Grow Your Own Lei Garden,” with Lei Wann of Limahuli Garden of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Saturday, Nov. 21, at 10 a.m.;

• The three-time Emmy award-winning film “Saving ‘Ohi‘a — Hawaii’s Sacred Tree,” a documentary about the fight against ROD. Attendees are encouraged to engage with and ask questions to ROD scientists live.

The full schedule and links for workshop registrations are available at RapidOhiaDeath.org.

Free keiki craft kits are available at the Hanapepe, Kapa‘a, Lihu‘e, Princeville and Waimea public libraries and the Koloa Public/School Library while supplies last. The kits include a coloring book, field guide, crafts and a sticker.

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