Human of Kohala
By Jamiel Ventura
I’m Jamiel Ventura and I am a human of Kohala. As of the writing of this post, I am 21 years old and I live in Kapa’au with my family. I don’t know how alike or the same I am from other Kohala folks but this is my story so far in five photos…
This is where I developed myself as a person. This is Palili O’ Kohala aka Hoe’a Farm, a Korean Natural Farming learning center. I got into a sports accident in high school where I broke my fibula which disqualified from enlisting in the Marines as I had planned to do straight after graduation. With plans changed, I looked for work while I was healing. Papa David Fuertes and his hanai son Bert Kanoa Sr. Mentored me and signed me up for a UH summer agricultural program to train me on the basics of farm work. From there, Papa David helped me develop both my agricultural skills as well as how to be the best person I can be. I faced many fears at this farm. Prior to working here, the only thing I ever knew about farming was from playing Viva Piñata Trouble in Paradise video game. I used to be scared of pigs. I used to be scared of chickens. Now I love them. I respect them. I have much more respect for animals and plants. I never knew how much joy animals and plants provide. Without animals and plants, we humans would be in big trouble.
Palili O’ Kohala aka Hoe’a Farm
Clear evidence that I am now over my fear of chickens. The chickens now run away from me when I go to pet them. I never pet them when they were younger so they never got used to it. This picture was taken early into quarantine and my early days working as a Conservation Leadership Development Program (CLDP) member with Honolulu based program Kupu/Americorps community service program that conserves native Hawaiian plants and culture.
Papa David. The Papa I never had. Papa David was my guide and mentor in and after my high school years. It was from the example Papa David and his family set that taught me how to be a family man, a Godly man, a loving man because I see that in him. He’s been a beloved agriculture teacher and advocate for the last 40 years. He helped me reconnect with the ‘aina. I learned more about working on the land more than I’ve ever had in my life. All because of Papa David.
Papa David (Fuertas)
Photo: Vanessa de Guia
This is a glimpse of what I do on the farm. Besides being a primary caretaker of the farm, I also conduct demonstrations and workshops for diverse educators, agricultural students of all ages, tourists, etc. We try to make Korean natural farming philosophy, concepts, and strategies relatable to non-farmers or farming students. My job is to help non-farmers understand and relate to the complexities of Korean natural farming.
Joining the military has been a dream since I was a child. My mom’s Hilo family is Army, Navy and Air Force. Even though I wasn’t able to join right after high school, the past five years in the farm I’ve had the privilege to work with soldiers to restore the wetland lo’i of the farm. Since 2021 is likely my last year working with Kupu and Papa David and the farm, I’ve decided to pursue the military again. I’ve spoken to an army recruiter and currently in the process of evaluation for physical and mental readiness to enlist. If you see me around town, say ALOHA!