Taste of Heeia Fundraiser

Aerial shot of Heeia Fishpond.

Photos: Courtesy of Paepae o Heeia

Sure, many dinners these days are "farm-to-table," but how many are in view of the very land and sea where the food is grown and caught? Such is the case this Saturday at Hoolako: A Taste of Heeia, the annual benefit for Paepae o Heeia, a non-profit group dedicated to restoring and caring for the Heeia Fishpond. Sean Priester of SOUL will be making a bisque with Samoan crab harvested from the fishpond and Mark Noguchi of Heeia Pier and Deli is cooking up Kahaluu wild pig as bo ssam (pork roasted, then grilled with Korean accompaniments). [disclosure: As a supporter of Paepae o Heeia and their cause, I’ll be cooking there myself, with Andrew Le (The Pig and the Lady) and Kimi Oi (Melt). We’ll be serving Big Island abalone congee with sweet potato leaves from Paepae’s garden, local hebi sashimi and fishpond limu, and Molokai sweet potato ice cream.]

This and more will be served at Heeia State Park, in view of the Heeia Fishpond, which is proof that beauty and productivity need not be mutually exclusive. Hiilei Kawelo, executive director of Paepae o Heeia, says, "For some, the restoration of Heeia Fishpond is appealing because it is a historic site; the pond is 800 years old. But for Paepae o Heeia, restoration of the pond is important because we want to restore the pond to its food-producing potential.  Aesthetics is nice, but we’re not doing this for pure aesthetics. When you visit a museum, there are artifacts on the shelf, relics you cannot touch. With the fishpond, it’s a living and breathing entity, one in which we are able to perpetuate the practice of lokoia (fishponds)."

From last year’s Paepae o Heeia benefit at the Waikiki Aquarium.

This Saturday, Paepae o Heeia will also celebrate 10 years of caring for the fishpond. In that period, they’ve restored almost half of the 7,000-linear-foot fishpond wall, restored a makaha (the pond’s sluice gates), and, says Kawelo, "We’ve seen thousands upon thousands of kids, community, visitors and kupuna contribute to the fishpond; we’ve educated more than 30,000. We’ve successfully cultivated and harvested moi in the pond, but I think the most beautiful part of the past 10 years is that we’re still here, still going and continue to grow, and we look forward to the day in which we’ll be able to utilize the pond for the intent in which it was created by our kupuna, to feed the community!"

Hoolako – A Taste of Heeia, August 27, 5:30 to 9:30pm at Heeia State Park. For information on how to get tickets, visit: paepaeoheeia.org.