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A Bit "About The Owners" of Kona Comfort Coffee Farm...

 

We "bought the farm" (lol) in April 2006, and started building our coffee business and

coffee farmer lifestyles.

"The farm" we eventually found...

Already had a nice mixture of both old established Coffee Trees and some that were much younger, but plenty that were

in full glorious production.

It was no "play farm" -- with almost 12 acres in two adjacent plots with an existing house, this could be a full time job.

Located miles up a mostly dirt, winding roller coaster ride sort of road. We would be far enough up where we could peer

down and see much of the coast, down to the City of Refuge directly below us, South Point, and the Captain Cook

Monument.

Ric actually grew up on the Big Island, on the West Side in South Kona for the most part. As a young child he remembers

going into the coffee fields to play while his mother (who like many local people) picked coffee for some extra income.

Back in those days it was $3 a bag. Moving away in the early 70's to join the Marines, not to return back to live took over

30 years. Ric learned that while he was away coffee pickers got a whopping $25 for a full hundred pound bag! Of course

these days it's more around $100 a bag and up.

We started vacationing to the Big Island back in 1982 (which was the first time Mike had ever been to the Big Island), and

the first time Ric had been back since moving to the Mainland for seven years. In the the mid 90's we started coming back

every year for a vacation like it was a tradition. Hawaii held a special appeal that was impossible to get out of our "blood"

and so finally we established a house here in 2001. We flew back and forth between the Mainland and Kona (staying

approximately two months on each "side")  and then moved completely to Kona in April of 2005.

 

We had visited Hawaii since 1982, owned property here on this Island since 2000,

bought the coffee farm and started that "enterprise" in 2006.

 

Before it occurred to us ("forest for the trees") to consider coffee farming we also got to investigate many business

opportunities and learn a lot about the culture. We certainly had not first thought of running a coffee farm, and to many

people who grew up in Hawaii coffee farming is not considered a happy memory or very glamourous ("what are you crazy

or something!") but we usually try to keep an open mind and I happened to casually start noticing the number of coffee

farms there were, I noticed the Kona Coffee all over the stores. I had noticed before but now paid attention to the fact

several coffee farms had been advertised for sale.

We only turned our full attention toward Coffee Farming after a short yet seriously intensive study lasting over six or seven

months. At that time we had uncovered enough pieces of the puzzle that fit together to make a plan or pattern to follow

and...

we felt we had a reasonable comfort with the broad nuts and bolts of what it is to be a

Kona Coffee Farmer.

The research included collecting reams of printouts with definitions, references, procedures, formulas and speaking to a

couple of dozen people and communicating with probably as many as that in emails and forums.

If there were over 500 or even 600 existing Kona Coffee Farmers (no one seems to know exactly!),

we reasoned (and others said as much) that the methods these people followed or "the

how to coffee farm" must be already worked out.

 

Most any average person could watch, learn and gather information from those who had done it before and by doing so

follow the proven steps that had lead to many of these farmers' success. It also seemed many lived apart from the faster

paced metropolitan life, many seemed happy and friendly, many seemed to live healthy lifestyle choices and participate in

environmentally sound practices -- all in all an attractive lure.

The three most important hurdles to be aware of in order to choose a coffee farm:

(1) You should factor in a sufficiently large piece of land. That's so that the size could support the number of trees you

would need, to generate the amount of raw coffee you would need to harvest, to yield the amount of processed product

you needed to sell.

(2) The more steps of processing you do yourself with your own equipment (rather than hire done by a third party) and the

more steps you took the coffee directly to the consumer, the more return you would get from your efforts and therefore the

more likely you could balance your budget.

(3) Significant productivity for coffee trees that you plant takes three years or more!  It can take longer in reality because

most land will need to be cleared of current growth before planting, and planting can be a challenge if your property is

rocky or slopped. Unless you have money put away to live on while you have land cleared, plant the trees, then wait for

them to grow, you should buy a farm with sufficient existing trees.

These bottom level "needs" for a coffee farm that everything else is based on could be briefly summed up like this:

If you desire to live on a coffee farm as a full time lifestyle, you will need a sufficiently large property that has the capacity

to generate enough income to support you and keep the farm running happy;  you should plan to do as many steps as you

can handle yourself;  you will need to sell your coffee direct if possible; and unless you have money put aside to support

you while you wait, you should have access to enough trees to generate the income you will need to live on and allow the

farm to function and grow.

Discovering these Coffee Farmer Basics, then were we able to start looking for farms

that would fit within those parameters.

We didn't have funds to wait while land was cleared, seeds were planted and trees were to grow up, so we would be

restricted to existing properties that had mature producing trees; the cost of each subject property would make it apparent

how many productive trees you would need on any subject property -- and so we had a flexible model to work with.

We found several places that we looked over, finally deciding on a property in the Rain Forest of Honaunau. It addresssed

the Coffee Farm Parameters well, gave us "Country  Living" in a secluded environment along with a nice cool elevation.

Plenty of natural water that fell in the afternoons most days. As soon as we arrived we kept being told about the

Sacredness of the Land. There were lava tubes. There were fresh avocados, fresh citrus, a garden with tomatoes and

peppers. Peacocks, chickens, lot of glorious trees in every direction. Yes, get up and take twelve steps and "you are at

your work"!

Since we had the continual experiences of being on the Island six months out of the year for over five years -- our choice

of where to live was not by accident or rash decision.  This particular farm seemed to go hand into glove with our MOST

favorite area of the Big Island, had the right size of land to support us, had a decent amount of trees already producing

coffee, and we got to sample the coffee from the farm and drink it -- it was all just wonderful.

Regarding the decision to turn to coffee farming as a lifestyle and way to make a living:

The times change, new methods are introduced, better equipment is built; established coffee farmers age or move on to

other interests, then replacements come to fill those shoes and take over the care taking of the farm and the farmlands.

And that is really What We Really Most are:

The Care Takers of the Land.

 

I don't think our experience is particularly unique just to us,

there are lots of relatively "new" coffee farmers on the scene today.

Cycles in coffee farming techniques and coffee farmers tuning over

as time goes on has been a natural process.

 

These pictures are at

our small house in the

MidWest. The piano is

now here at the farm.

 

Tobi (r) and Alex (l). They

are older now & also here

at the farm.

 

Mike

 

Ric

 
 

Two pivot points cemented our decision to go forward to get a coffee farm and become coffee farmers.

 

10/1/05, We attended

the Small Equipment

Seminar with speaker

Ken Sheppard. We got

information that

explained most of the

steps and made it more

apparent that the

processes could be

learned and applied.

Even more than two

years later, Ken remains

helpful and he since this

seminar became the

second president of the

KCFA (Kona Coffee

Farmers' Association).

 

11/05/05, We attended the

Coffee Festival Art Stroll. We

had heard pros and cons, but

these two coffee farmers 

(Joanie and Ron Rowe) gave

being coffee farmers: ALL

THUMBS UP.

"There is nothing like getting

up in the morning and walking

outside and there is your

work!", Ron said to us with

enthusiasm.

"Go for it, you will not regret

it!", Joanie said...

As fate would have it, these

people are almost our

neighbors, they live just down

the road and aways from us!

 
 

A few pictures from around the farm:

 

Still here?

<<   Click   >>

any of the graphics

down here on this line

to see what has been

said about us,

any awards or

recognitions we are

aware of.

 

ONOLISICIOUS (oh-noh-LIH-shee-uhs) - really

delicious, really good, really great

That's what our Kona Comfort Coffee Is!