Ka'u Valley Farm was originally part of the Hutchinson Sugar plantation system. But the sugar business died out here many years ago (in the 1990s), and since then the land has been used as cattle pasture. 3-4 years ago a new owner bought the whole thing (several thousand acres) and is now creating a diversified farm. So far the plan looks to be a good one for this area.
Driving all over the place in an open farm utility vehicle was fun all by itself. Up hills, down gullys, through mud, over rocky dirt farm tracks, through pastures, past cows......wow, fun! The scenery was grand....vast open grassy pastures, ohia forest, coastline view, the ocean stretching all the way along the background. At the top of the farm one could see all the way from Volcanoes National Park and sunrise point to your left, down 85 miles of coast to South Point, then off in the distance to the sunset point to your right. What a panama. You felt you were on top of the world. Amazingly beautiful.
Then there's the farm stuff. At the top where the farm has native forest, sits a large collection of beehives to harvest nectar from the tract of yellow ohia trees. This is probably the only honey in the world that is predominantly yellow lehua honey.
Coming down in elevation, the land is being farmed with sweet potatoes for now. For now meaning that after two years the sweets will be moved to other areas and coffee and tea planted in its place. About 100 acres at a time will be in sweet potatoes.
Irrigation for the farm is not needed for some of the crops, but there is water available via the old sugar plantation tunnel system. 3 tunnels have been located and restored. All are located on the farm, private land, which makes them immensely valuable. Private water around here is worth gold! The farm is building a 4 million gallon capacity reservoir to store the water, making it available for the crops lower down the land. Crops will include coffee, tea, a variety of fruit and food trees, and vegetables.
|A view looking down on the nursery and some coffee & tea fields.|
After running all over the farm, we had a pleasant lunch break in open air pavilions with expansive views, while this year's Ka'u Coffee Queen entertained us with ukulele and singing. It was a nice touch. Another nice touch was the we got to plant our own coffee tree. Made us feel like we a part of this farming adventure.
|My own namesake, a coffee tree.|
|Everyone planting their trees.|
Next stop -- greenhouses. This is where they grow the young coffee and tea trees, plus an assortment of ornamentals for landscaping the farm. The aim is to not just make the farm functional, but also pleasing to the eye. One greenhouse is used for a hydroponic lettuce.
The farm has already been selling lettuce and other assorted produce for months now. The nursery area is also the site for assorted produce production. I saw bananas, eggplant, papaya, lettuce, radish, peanut, sweet potato, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, and cauliflower. We also got a demonstration of grafting procedures using hibiscus plants. The farm plans to conduct future grafting classes, and I intend to come back for them.
|Hydroponic lettuce set up.|
Future plans call for a visitor center, hoping to open by the end of the year. And of course expansion of fields of coffee, tea, and fruit trees.