Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Cacao Farm Visit, Part 1: Kokoleka O’Ka Aina

I bet you thought that when I wrapped up my discussion on my visit with the shop behind Madre Chocolate this weekend, you’d be done, yes done, reading about what I did in Hawaii.

Not a chance. I still have to tell you about the very, very exciting journey I took to Kokoleka O’Ka Aina’s cocoa farm with Seneca Klassen, who has an in-depth plan for expanding cacao farming and chocolate production in Hawaii. We met up on the beautiful north shore of Oahu and headed up to visit with the plants.

This area was used exclusively for sugar cane until 1992, but has now been diversified to include acreage dedicated to seed corn, banana, papaya, and of course, cacao. He currently has access to 14 acres, with eight of them planted with cacao trees.

He notes that the soil is quite good, with a neutral pH, and slight deficiencies in calcium and nitrogen can be addressed with the use of a bit of coral dust.

At this point, the trees are growing, but are not yet yielding fruit. Many of them, however, look promising for strong yield in the future.

As favorable as the area is for cacao growing, Japanese rose beetles have made their presence known.

Seneca is committed to not using pesticides to abate the pests, and noted that he simply needs enough leaves to create shade for the fruit.

While these tress mature, he’s up to some chocolate making, using some cacao from a partner from the big island.

The flavor is delightfully smooth with citrus and nutty flavors, and he may be taking a bar to market by the end of the year.

I sure hope so. More tomorrow on Seneca’s ultimate vision for Kokoleka O’Ka Aina.

Have you ever visited a cocoa farm?


  1. No, but how I wish I had! So envious, my friend!

  2. I still can't believe you came back from there. Swimming! Beaches! Hiking! CHOCOLATE!!!! Visiting a cocoa farm seems really interesting.

  3. Very sweet. I hope to make it up to the north shore when I am on Oahu in November. Bummer that the trees aren't mature yet, but perhaps that's best, considering my sticky fingers....