Mike and Candace Strong started growing watermelons on small scale near Kealia River in the early 70s. After saving some money they purchased old sugar cane land in Kilauea and then expanded to bell peppers and papayas. Wanting to broaden their output they planted tropical fruits like longan lychee, magosteen, and a other tropical varieties. These were some of the first commercial plantings of these varieties on Kaua’i and planting stock was obtained by visiting growers throughout Asia and Australia. In the early 90s Mike was part of an agricultural CPR in Moloa’a were they expanded to white fleshed pineapple. Unfortunately, Mike Strong passed away earlier this year. He will be missed by many and is being honored at the 2017 Kaua’i County farm fair.
Today, Dylan (Mike’s Son) and wife Sheala are continuing the family tradition of farming on Kauai on some of the same family land. Dylan and Sheala Strong focus on growing Tomatoes, Cucumbers and varieties of Peppers. After years of trial and error Growing Strong Farm produces extremely delicious, visually stunning and healthy produce for the delight of the Kaua’i community. When asked, “What are the values of Growing Strong Farm?” the Strong’s reply was, “Nurturing the soil. This is a long process and we stand by the values of the organic system which is a lifelong commitment to the integrity of the soil. Compost, Compost, Compost. Tomatoes and Cucumbers are really heavy feeders and it seems like we can not give them too much compost. We also add other soil amendments like kelp meal for micro nutrients which translate directly to flavor. We are also very proud of our compost!”
“Every morning we make our compost run to Kauai Juice Co. or our neighbor’s pineapple farm to fill our truck with nutrient rich fruit and vegetable waste. This equals about 3-4000 lbs of fruit and veggie scraps a week. These scraps are layered thinly with equal amounts of wood chips, layer upon layer, until the pile gets to about 5 ft. At this stage we use a tractor to mix a pile together so the compost can start its heating process. 3 months later the soil is airy, nutrient rich and ready for use”.
“We see customers that we’ve had our entire 8 years of farming on a weekly basis, Hoku being one of them! Having those long lasting relationships, growing with people and receiving nothing but support has made farming on Kauai an amazing experience”.
In the year 2002, on land that had been abandoned 20 years prior by Papaya growers who through over 100 years of reckless farming practices had robbed the soil of all vital nutrients, Ned and Marta Whitlock began Moloa’a Organica’a with a simple vision of restoring the land and one day providing their growing family and the people of the island with all the organic food and exotic tropical fruit that they would ever need.
Armed only with tools and tractors that they shipped to Kauai in two sea containers, and an undying passion to farm, they began to carve their dream out of the densest sea of invasive Guinea Grass. As they began selling excess food that they did not need at farmers’ markets and using the profits from these initial gardens to expand, Ned and Marta were able to fund the infrastructure and planting of new orchards, and piece by piece, establish more gardens and plant more orchards.
Since its inception over 13 years ago, Moloa’a Organica’a has become known by locals and tourists alike as one of the most consistent growers of high-quality organic produce and exotic tropical fruit on the Garden Isle. Today, nearly every square foot of the 28.5 acres is densely planted with the most astonishing variety of tropical fruits, organic produce, medicinal herbs, and native edibles.
Sally Rizzo and her family’s mission is to develop a profitable and scalable regenerative farm model that promotes soil health and provides our island with healthy, local produce.
A key element to our Old Koloa Regenerative farming operation is our “Gather to Grow” component which involves fostering community collaborations to help actively empower and connect the community to the earth and the food growing process through hands-on farm experiences.
Farm owner, Sally is mother to two feral farm children, Emalisa and Alexander. Sally loves to trail run, Crossfit, and cook and eat farm fresh food with her family. Sally’s partner Julian Marquez grew up in Koloa and owns and operates a martial arts academy on the south side of the Island (Jiu Jitsu 967). They bring local youth and families from the mats to the farm for hands-on experiences. Sally is a 2021 graduate of GoFarm Hawaii AgXcel program (located behind KCC), a statewide farmer training program. She has an Environmental Degree from the University of Edinboro in Pennsylvania.
Fun Fact: We are a farming family of gritty grapplers! Julian is a talented black belt in Jiu Jitsu, Sally wrestled all through high school, and both kids spend much of their time on the mats learning different forms of martial arts.
Pono Farm is a four-acre farm nestled in the heart of Moloa’a. With the power of organic and regenerative techniques like cover cropping, composting, and animal husbandry, they produce more than 20,000 pounds of vegetables each year in less than half an acre of garden space. Farmer Tim Schulte and his family also grow a variety of fruits including mangos, avocados, citrus, coffee, and more. Hoku Foods carries Pono Farms greens like Arugula, lettuce, citrus and mangos.