Farmer Feature – Ohana Farm Orchards
At an elevation of 1300 feet in Opihihale (near Captain Cook in South Kona) you will find Ohana Farm Orchards: 16 rehabilitated acres of 650 producing macadamia nut trees, 650 coffee trees that have been recently 'whipped into shape' and 42 Sharwil avocado trees, among other things.
Owners Renn and John Giblin, their daughter and son-in-law Carolina and Shad Bennett, and granddaughter Leyla have been taming the land and farming since they moved to the island in February 2012, a mere year and-a half ago.
With the help and advice of neighbor Robert Barnes of Kona RainForest Coffee Farm, the Giblin-Bennett family started pruning and tending the abandoned coffee trees to the point where now the berries are plentiful and will be ready for their first harvest this fall.
Although not certified organic, the family follows sustainable organic practices with no chemicals used. The macnut husks, shells and leaves from the trees are used as mulch and fertilizer. Between their 3 major crops -- macadamia nuts, avocados, and coffee -- they have a year-around growing and harvesting season.
After about a year of research and development, and making nut butters and other products from their crops for themselves and friends, they were encouraged to make enough to sell.
The family has been marketing their products now for about 5 months and everything is made from what they grow on the farm and is processed entirely by them. Every product is made in small batches to ensure perfection in quality and taste.
At this time they offer macadamia nut butters and brittles as well as 20 different flavors of seasoned macadamia nuts; jams and jellies (mango and liliko'i at the moment); and 7 flavors of homemade ice cream and sorbets. These last include vanilla macnut, coconut, banana, avocado and Kona coffee ice creams, plus mango and coconut sorbets.
They constantly try to add and improve the product line and are also growing strawberries and blueberries, so I think it's safe to say you might find products using these fruits in the near future.
You can find their products at the South Kona Green Market (at Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Gardens) every Sunday morning, and soon at the Ho'oulu Community Farmers Market (Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa) on Wednesday mornings, and at different festivals around the island.
John & Renn Giblin/Carolina & Shad Bennett
Ohana Farm Orchards
87-2814 Mamalahoa Highway, Captain Cook
Sonia R. Martinez, the Hawai'i Homegrown Food Network regular farmers market reporter, is a cookbook author and freelance food writer for several publications in Hawai'i, including The Hamakua Times of Honoka'a. She is a regular contributor to Ke Ola Magazine; and has her own food & garden blog at Sonia Tastes Hawaii.