Our Farmers & Makers
We've dedicated this new section to the hundreds of Hawai'i farmers and makers we have the pleasure of working with every year! We're visiting more of our vendors each month and sharing their interviews and Q&As here, so check back often! These hard-working folks and families make it possible for us to have the fresh and diverse selection you know and love. Learn more about who they are, what they do, and what drives them to do the vital work of providing food.
ʻĀhualoa Family Farms
Ancient Valley Growers
Puna Chocolate Co.
Hilo, Puna, Hamakua, Kona
Kumu ʻĀina Farm
ʻĀhualoa Family Farms
Macadamia nuts and 100% Hamakua Coffee
Over 150 years ago, the first macadamia nut trees were planted in the Hawaiian Islands, in Kukuihaele, just outside Honoka'a Town. Today, these first trees continue to produce and are one of many sources behind Ahualoa Family Farms' macadamia nut line.
Chad and Kia Coleman, the new owners of 'Ahualoa Family Farms, continue to center rich pieces of Honoka'a Town history throughout their company. The biggest piece has been the restoration of "Hawai'i's Oldest Macnut Factory" in Haina Camp, just below town. They now tout it as "Hawai'i's oldest and newest macnut factory," the newly retrofitted facility already processing half a million pounds annually (that's 10k pounds a week!). As if that wasn't enough of a project, they've also renovated the town's old sugar-plantation-era refueling station to create a retail store and certified kitchen. Impressively, all 'Ahualoa Family Farms' packaged products are made in this small kitchen, including 375 lbs of macnuts roasted daily.
Since purchasing ʻĀhualoa Family Farms from the original owners six years ago, the Colemans have continued to expand the business with the help of their hard-working family, friends, and over twenty staff. Of course, none of it would be possible without the 55 local growers who supply the operation's macnuts, whose hauls can range from a grocery bag to truckloads. This farmer network is critical, considering the company doesn't own any macadamia nut orchards of its own. With the restoration of the factory and growing demand for their products, the company is buying more macnuts than ever.
One way they are preparing for the future and shoring up supply is by educating small and backyard growers to improve old, unmaintained orchards and incorporate effective management practices. The other plan in the works is building up their own orchards with a goal of planting 150 acres of macadamia, starting with 25 new acres over the next three years and every 3 years after that. But, to plant an orchard, you need trees, and there are currently no commercial suppliers of macnut keiki in the islands. So, Ahualoa Family Farms is undertaking yet another project by establishing its own macadamia nut nursery.
With the revitalization of this agricultural component of the community, the crew at 'Ahualoa Farms is trying to revitalize something else - the Honoka'a Macadamia Nut Festival. This annual festival used to occur during the harvest season and was a chance for the community to come together to celebrate their hard work and harvest over food, games, contests, and more. They just celebrated this year's festival in July and hope to continue the tradition of celebrating with the community while showing gratitude and recognition for the hard work of their growers.
Tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to farm
"I was born and raised on a citrus ranch in southern California and obtained a degree in Agronomy from Cal Poly Pomona University. Farming is in my blood and something that I have always been extremely passionate about. As a child, I would have my own pretend farms in the backyard; now I have turned my dreams into reality!"
What's been the most challenging part of your farming journey?
"Never knowing what to expect each day. The weather is probably the biggest challenge as everything we do revolves around the weather, and in Hawaiʻi, it changes rapidly."
What's been the most rewarding?
"A bountiful harvest after nourishing a crop for an entire year. You can actually see all of the hard work, determination, and dedication that was put into it. This makes farming a truly magical and rewarding experience. Also, seeing and hearing customers' reactions when trying our products is priceless."
What is something you wish everyone who enjoyed your food knew about what you do?
"We are a working family farm that truly pours our heart and soul into everything that we do, from fresh, local, and natural ingredients to local mac nuts grown by our family and other families across the island. We are all ‘ohana and share the aloha through our crops and products that the ‘āina provides."
What do you wish more people knew about farming in general?
"How important and critical farming is to our society, and that food doesn’t magically appear at your local grocery store. We need to respect the land and those that grow food for our tables because farming is not easy yet essential for survival!
What's a helpful tip or trick you can share about the food you grow?
"Sing to it. We have several family members (Ryan) that sing while working, so maybe that is the secret recipe to our products (They think no one can hear them over the loud equipment… but we all can ;))"