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 market 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.
Shree Rawall began farming on Kauai six years ago with the purchase of a 5 acre farm in Moloa’a. Embracing strict organic practices and maintaining organic certification is a constant aspect of providing high quality produce for the Island of Kaua’i. It has taken time, though Shree’s vision has been realized and continues to evolve with the addition of new orchards and fine tuning their practices as they relate to the unique mico climates that exist on their farm. That’s right, some vegetables thrive in one area where in previous years they did not in a different field just a few hundred feet away. Growing nutrient rich cover crops, rotating fields, making their own compost are just a few of the ways in which Govinda’s farm cares for their land which then provides wonderful produce for us all.