The Fruit Basket of Oʻahu’s Fabled North Shore
On a hot summer day when you’re craving juicy oranges, tangy lemonade and meaty avocados, look no further than Lokoea Farms, a family-run fruit farm tucked along the outskirts of Haleiwa. Since 2000, farm owners Noe Neumann and her father Donald have mastered the art of growing trees that bear mouth-watering citrus, mangoes, bananas, avocados and more.
“I grew up on a half-acre lot surrounded by sugarcane fields, which is the same location where our farm is today,” Noe shared. “After sugar went out of business, my dad leased and later bought some of the surrounding fields, and began to plant trees. We now have almost 300 trees, citrus and tropical fruit and a small vegetable field.”
Noe moved back home in 2015 after living on the mainland for eight years to help turn her family farm into a profitable business. Upon her return, she enrolled in GoFarm Hawaii, a farmer-training program offered by the University of Hawaii, where she learned the ins and outs of running a farm in a sustainable manner while still generating revenue.
However, even with in-depth training with GoFarm, Noe shares that every day is still a new learning experience. From battling soil that is too rich in clay (which affects how the soil holds water) to learning the different temperamental personalities of each tree variety, a full schedule is almost guaranteed.
“I am up between 6:30-7 a.m., feeding the animals and doing any harvesting of sensitive greens or other veggies before it gets too hot. Depending on the day, I’m updating our available products list and contacting my usual buyers to try to move these products, checking and repairing irrigation, pruning trees, spraying fertilizers or organic pesticides, spreading mulch and compost, researching EVERYTHING, planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, planting trees…. the list goes on and on!”
Since returning, she and her father have been successful in selling most of their yield by working directly with Oahu-based CSAs like Local Inside, farmer’s markets and Farm Link Hawaii, an online marketplace where growers and buyers throughout the state can connect to buy and sell locally grown produce. “Local inside has been so great about buying produce that we happen to have an overage of,” Noe added. “It’s so nice to have an outlet that I can call and almost count on them buying anything I need to move, at fair prices.”
In the end, Noe enjoys the satisfaction of her hard work and relishes in the unique, entrepreneurial opportunities that come with growing Lokoea Farms. “When you’re given the opportunity to run a small farm in a place as beautiful as Hawaii, you don’t say no! I enjoy the problem-solving, constantly learning and working outside in a beautiful place every day.”
For more information or to learn how you can purchase fruits from Lokoea Farms, visit www.lokoeafarms.org.