Tel: 808.987.1816  


Ola Design Group is a hui (collaborative) of forward-thinking professionals devoted to regenerative design and ‘aina-minded stewardship. We each have distinct business entities, which allows us to be agile collaborators on a wide array of design projects.

Zach Mermel, B.S., M.A. – Founder, Design Director

One part ecologist, one part horticulturist, one part land planner, Zach’s work and education in ecological design have taken him across the Hawaiian archipelago, the US mainland, and beyond.

Born and raised on Hawai’i Island, Zach is intimately familiar with the different microclimates and varied flora and fauna of our island home. An interdisciplinary designer, Zach holds a master’s degree in ecological design from the Conway School. In addition to offering weekend workshops and seminars in various aspects of ecological design, Zach has taught on a part-time basis at Hawai’i Community College, thru the Forest TEAM Program. As an active member of the East Hawai’i Chapter of Hawai’i Farmers Union United, Zach helps to advance regenerative agriculture practices at the neighborhood, island, and state levels.  He is also a close collaborator of AMA, coordinated by master farmer Clive Cheetham.

Brad Kurokawa, ASLA, LEED AP – Registered Landscape Architect

bruceBrad is a registered landscape architect with more than 30 years of experience in diverse and complex projects including transit stations for commuter and light rail, urban planning and design, health care facilities, parks, campus planning, zoological exhibits, and neighborhood design. After practicing in Seattle and San Francisco for 23 years working for firms including EDAW Inc., Jones & Jones, Richard Haag Associates and Murase Associates, Brad returned home to Hawai`i in 2005. His local experience includes neighborhood planning and design while working for PBR Hawai`i and three years as Hawai`i County Deputy Planning Director.

Outside of work, Brad serves as the chair of the Hamakua Community Development Plan steering committee and the Built Environment Community Design & Access work group for the State Department of Health’s Physical Activity & Nutrition Plan initiative. He is also on the board of the non-profit Wailea Village Historic Preservation Community.

Gabriel Howearth, BLA, MLA – Master Horticulturalist & Permaculturist

Gabriel has over 35 years’ experience teaching and practicing permaculture, seed saving, biodynamic and organic agriculture. As one of the most respected and knowledgeable pioneers in the Organic Farming movement, he has traveled to 87 countries around the world and worked with many indigenous people to develop and increase diversity in organic farming and gardening.

In the 1970’s, he studied with Alan Chadwick, creator of French Intensive Gardening and with Peter Dukish, recognized master of the Biodynamic farming principles of Rudolph Steiner. Gabriel was the original founder of Seeds of Change, one of the initial certifiers for Oregon Tilth, and a core consultant to the Herb Pharm. His work with seeds, plants, Mayan, Quecha, Hopi and Pueblo farmers is documented in “Secrets of the Soil” and “The Secret Life of Plants” by Christopher Byrd and Peter Tompkins, as well as several other books.

Seeds of Change came to be as a direct result of Gabriel’s personal seed bank collection of a living genealogy of plants containing many rare, endangered and exotic species of forgotten and little known food sources of great nutritional, cultural and genetic value. Additionally, Gabriel is the founder of Buena Fortuna Botanical Garden, in Baja Mexico which plays an enormous role in protecting the world’s biodiversity, with over 3,700 cultivated plant species of the tropical and dry tropical regions of the world.

Mr. Jonathan Hutchinson – Project Supervisor

Born and raised in Hawai’i, Jonathan has practiced ecological agriculture and homesteading on the windward side of Hawai’i Island for the better part of a decade. His hands-on familiarity with an array of plants enables him to help a system thrive. Travels across the Pacific have driven home the importance of creating abundant, resilient food systems here in Hawaii. A skilled tradesman and designer, with a keen eye for blending form and function, Jonathan has a diverse set of skills that help create thriving, functional agroecosystems for homesteads, residences, and farmscapes.

Noa Lincoln, Ph.D. – Ethnoecologist

ko1Noa Kekuewa Lincoln is an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa with a specialty in Indigenous Crops and Cropping Systems.  He has worked extensively around the Pacific in environmental management, particularly with traditional land management techniques and agriculture. He has developed expertise in ethnobotany, soil biogeochemistry, archaeology, forest ecology, and social ecology.  His current research looks at feedback processes between human and natural systems as mediated by agriculture.

Jana Bogs, Ph.D. – Soil Scientist + Horticulturist + Nutritionist

janaDr. Jana Bogs is a nutritionist (BSci) turned horticulturist (PhD) with the aim of growing the best quality food possible…the most nutritious and the best-tasting.  As a researcher and consultant, she is on the cutting edge of maximizing nutritional quality in foods from the soil up using environmentally-friendly, sustainable methods which minimize pest and disease problems naturally.  Dr. Bogs works with farmers, gardeners and food producers to take nutrition to the next level for improving health and longevity by moving beyond “simply organic” to “Nutrition Grown”. Visit her website:


Andrew Jones – International Development Specialist

Andrew Jones has a background in ecology, Permaculture, humanitarian aid, and international development. A native of Australia, of mixed Polynesian, Celtic and Spanish descent, Andrew completed his Permaculture Design Course in 1999 with Geoff Lawton. Over the past 25 years, he has worked in a humanitarian aid and development context in the Middle East, the Pacific, Asia, Europe, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, and Nigeria. He has undertaken consultancies on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Macedonia and Albania, and with the United Nations Environment Program, most recently in Indonesia in 2005 in a post-tsunami recovery context. Based in Baja California Sur, Andrew enjoys an active lifestyle through reading, writing, music, woodwork, natural building, and creating and tending gardens of soil, soul and spirit. He is engaged in the ongoing development of Baja BioSana, an ecological living & wellness center.

Josiah Hunt – Agroecologist & Biocharista

Founder and CEO of Pacific Biochar Benefit Corporation, Josiah Hunt graduated from UH Hilo with a BS in Agroecology and Environmental Quality. From his rural home farm on the Big Island of Hawaii he has helped to pioneer methods for biochar production, processing, and application in farming systems using organic and biological approaches since 2008. He is also recognized for his work with commercial scale organic papaya cultivation.

Micah Barker – Wholistic Landscape Contractor (C-32014)

MicahBarker_Headshot-6811Since 2010, Micah has operated Bio-Scape Hawaii LLC, an innovative landscape contracting company integrating water conservation, stormwater management, and chemical-free stewardship practices for a range of landscapes, from resort properties to rural retreats.  As a certified Permaculture designer, Mr. Barker has designed and implemented projects in an array of environments – from the arid coastal conditions of Kawaihae to the wet upland forests of Hamakua. A close collaborator of Ola Design Group, Micah plays a pivotal role in crafting regenerative landscapes for Hawaii Island.


RSS Ecology + Design News

  • Wormeries
    A medium-sized wormery can process several pounds of organic waste a day – that’s several pounds you don’t have to put in bins, wrap in plastic and put outside in the cold; that won’t take up space in the landfill; and that won’t worsen climate change.
    Brian Kaller

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Upcoming Events

  1. Rapid Topsoil Formation

    January 27 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  2. Food From Wood: Growing Edible & Medicinal Mushrooms on Logs, Stumps, and Wood Chips

    February 3 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm