Editor’s note: Kaua`i County Farm Bureau Fair starts Thursday, August 23, goes through Sunday, August 26.
by Anne E. O’Malley
A sixth-generation Hanalei family business includes a heritage farm, an agrarian museum and the place where Lyndsey Haraguchi-Nakayama can stand two feet deep in lo`i kalo backed by Hihimanu, Namolokama and Mamalahoa Mountains and say, “I’m home.”
It was exciting growing up on the Hanalei Riverside leasehold with 55 acres in taro, a farm that supported her grandparents and her parents, Rodney and Karol Haraguchi, along with herself and her brother, Whitney, now a soil conservationist living in California.
“I started driving a tractor at six years old, and when I got a little older, I would have to baby sit my brother and would pack him behind me on the tractor seat,” says Lyndsey. “I always saw myself somehow connected to the family farm and knew that I would come back to continue the tradition.”
The tradition she refers to is the Ho`opuapula Haraguchi Rice Mill, a nonprofit national historic building and taro farm tour for which she is the educational coordinator. She’s charged with booking educational groups from around the state, ranging from pre-kindergarten to college classes, and seeing to the public, pre-arranged tours on Wednesdays that support the educational programs.
There’s the farm itself, W.T. Haraguchi Farm, which she helps run and that supplies the majority of Kaua`i taro used by the state.
But coming home to ag post-college these days and starting a family means the revenue stream has to grow. Lyndsey, with an MBA from Hawaii Pacific University and her Kaneohe-raised, urban-bred husband Brad Nakayama, with a B.A. in psychology, figured it out.
Read more after the photo gallery.
“We have our lunchwagon,” says Lyndsey. “The value added portion of Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. is a means for our family farm to survive for the next generation. We couldn’t pay the bills if it was just taro.”
They not only developed value-added products, but also the venues needed to sell them. Together, they own and are directors of Hanalei Taro & Juice Co., farm fresh taro specialties that customers can also find in stores.
The offerings are the usual Hawaiian food — laulau, kalua pig, poi, lomi salmon, kulolo, and more — time-tried recipes of Karol Haraguchi. But Brad, who has a knack in the kitchen, has bumped it up a notch, offering taro hummus, taro veggie burgers, taro mochi cake, tropical taro smoothies, banana poi bread with influences of his own…and the promise of more to come.
The young couple operate two trucks, one located next to Kayak Kaua`i in Hanalei Town and open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and another that sets up each Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kaua`i Community College Farmers Market.
So, are they successful?
Says Lyndsey, “I’d say as long as we’re able to pay the bills and take care of the kids — I didn’t go into farming to make money, that’s for sure.”
Members of the Kaua`i Farm Bureau — as a youth she was a two time scholarship winner as she majored in agriculture tropical horticulture — Kaua`i Taro Growers Association — she’s the secretary and sits on committees — Kaua`i Grown, Kaua`i Made, Hawaii Seal of Quality — the list goes on — is important to the couple that gives back in the business community and elsewhere.
The self-confessed former nerd once obsessed with scheduling and planning her life, stands today in the lo`i, pointing to a taro stem burdened with the bubblegum pink eggs of the apple snail, a scourge of the taro. Her iPhone 4S, attached to her hip in her fourth LifeProof™ case is communications center for today.
An endangered alae `ula, the common Moorhen, pecks its red bill at messages in the grass, undisturbed by the humans around it.
“I don’t think I could live with myself if I let it go,” says Lyndsey, referring to her heritage. “Maybe if I didn’t grow up on a farm or didn’t grow up gardening, farming and driving a tractor…”
Her diamond engagement ring — she and Brad married seven years ago — catches the sunlight. With raven black hair streaming down her shoulders, the diminutive powerhouse speaks as if from centuries ago.
“Having all this and if there’s no one else to continue —growing up I’d hear stories how my great, great grandmother, who came when she was 12 or 14, she was 99 years old when she passed away, and every time I think we’re going through a really hard time, like at one period, ag thefts or floods or a lot of challenge, when I think back on my great grandparents and what they had to go through, it’s nothing by comparison. What have I got to complain about?”
For information about Hanalei Taro & Juice Co., visit online at www.hanaleitaro.com. For information about Ho`opulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill, call 808-651-3399 or visit online at www.haraguchiricemill.org.
Look for the Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. wagon at the Kaua`i County Farm Bureau Fair, August 23-26.