1. Tour of proposed Hawai’i Dairy Farm
Our first stop of the day was in Koloa where we met with Farm Manager, Jim Garmatz and Amy Hennessey, Communications Director for Ulupono Initiative. The farm is a 20 year lease from Grove Farm and sits on approximately 580 acres of Important Agricultural Lands.
The initial vision for this verdant valley was to create a home for 2000 head of Jersey x Fresian dairy cows with a 60 cow rotary platform milking parlor. These cows would spend their days not in a traditional free-stall confinement model, but out rotating through 482 acres of irrigated pasture. The goal is to assist in restoring Hawai’i’s dairy industry which up until 1984, produced 100% of the state’s milk supply.
However, community concerns regarding odor, flies, and water quality have tempered the dairy’s aspirations. In response to the opposition, Hawai’i Dairy Farms has not only decreased their proposed herd size to 699 head but they have also taken the unusual step of initiating a voluntary Environment Impact Statement. The report is likely to be completed within the next 6 months. Once released, there will be a 45 day public comment period.
In the meantime, the farm continues to cultivate and establish its grazing paddocks and Jim and Amy remain cautiously optimistic about the future of their “Field of Dreams”.
2. Kaua’i Coffee Company
Our next visit was to the largest coffee grower in the United States, Kaua’i Coffee Company located in Kalaheo. In the early 1980’s, as Alexander and Baldwin transitioned out of sugar and into diversified agriculture, Kaua’i Coffee was born through a joint venture with Hills Brothers. More recently, the company was purchased by Italian global coffee company Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group.
Tim Martins, Processing Operations Manager and Class 9 alumnus, along with Darla Domingo, Director of Retail Operations, gave an overview of this vertically integrated company and offered tastings of their 5 varietal coffees.
We finished our visit with an informative walking tour – take home message – don’t store your coffee in the frig or freezer! Best stored at room temperature!
3. Kaneshiro Farms
Tucked in a little valley below Oma’o, just 200 yards from a residential neighborhood, Val Kaneshiro, quietly tends to her hogs. Her petite frame belies the hard work and dedication required to care for this herd of nearly 1000 hogs in confinement setting. She is joined by her husband and his 2 brothers on a daily basis as they rotate the chores required to maintain this herd. The 95 year old farm currently has a base of Yorkshire, Berkshire and Landrace lines. Their breeding stock was developed through artificial insemination and now is maintained through natural breeding. They market their island-fresh pork on Kauai only. Like other producers we have met, Val openly worries about the future of ag in our state and feels the need to recruit young farmers with smaller operations. She also voices concerns over animal activists who have attempted to remove farrowing crates, a valuable tool in protecting baby piglets from being inadvertently crushed. These thoughts reinforce our need to be visible proponents of our industry and transparent about our production practices.
4. Kaua’i Island Brewery
We finished our day in Port Allen with brewmaster, Dave Curry. Dave moved to Hawai’i about 14 years ago but has been brewing beer for over 20 years. The co-owner and a congenial host, he first offered us a frosty beverage before leading us through a quick beer brewing tutorial. By combining water, barley, hops and yeast, Dave and his team are able to craft up to 10 house beers for their guests to enjoy. The industrially themed pub is complete with corrugated walls, high ceiling fans and a catwalk leading to the second story. It was the perfect place to finish our day and unwind!