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At Waimanalo Country Farms, it’s all about ohana (family). Every day, Dominic Kadooka, his wife Shawn and the rest of their ohana plant and harvest their 52-acre farm, nestled against the Koolau mountain range. The farm was established in 1948, and since 2001, the main crop has been a variety of sweet corn, sold from the back of pickup trucks and farmers markets around Oahu.
Pumpkins of all sizes can be found in this Waimanalo patch. Pickers pay by the pound.
And as the summer heat starts to cool and children begin planning what ghoul or goblin (or tween rockstar) to dress up as, another crop starts to appear at farms. The coming of this crop signifies the beginning of Fall in Hawaii, when we plan what type of jack-o-lantern we’re going to carve and begin to rummage around the cookbook for Aunty’s famous pie recipe. I am talking about that wrinkled, round, orb – the pumpkin.
This is the second year of the Waimanalo Country Farms’ Pumpkin Festival, and by the looks of it, it won’t be the last. I met up with our editor Alyssa Navares and her sister, Ariel, for a pumpkin-tastic day. They were on the hunt for jack-o-lanterns; I was on the hunt for some pie pumpkins.
As we walked up the dusty road to the farm, a few teenagers were there to greet us and to let us know the pumpkin festival happenings. Not only is there a patch where you choose your own pumpkins, but there is also a country store where you can buy corn, cornbread mix, cotton candy and sweet lemonade served in a mason jar. There’s plenty for the keiki (children) – face painting, a petting zoo, a pumpkin cannon and a pumpkin-pull game, too. If you would like a tour of the farm, you can hop on the hayride pulled by farmer Dominic Kadooka and his loyal tractor. He’ll take you on a picturesque ride offering panoramic views of the ocean, Manana (Rabbit Island), Makapuu Point and the Koolau mountains, while talking about his farm and family.
(Left) Sunday’s pumpkin finds. (Right) Hayrides offer scenic views of Waimanalo and history of the farm.
After we picked our pumpkins, we sat down with Shawn Kadooka, a fourth generation farmer and wife of farmer Dominic. We “talked story” about the farm and pumpkin patch, as she pointed out all of the people that were working hard to keep it organized.
“Over there is my aunty, and there’s my niece,” she said. “Underneath the tent is my uncle, who started the farm. We’re a family-run business; we don’t hire outside employees. We’re all ohana here.”
Although I was a bit disappointed to find out that the pumpkin patch is supplemented with imported pumpkins to supply the demand, I felt good about supporting a small, family-run farm. This was also a great opportunity to explore the back of beautiful Waimanalo – an area that visitors and locals rarely get to see – while spending quality time with friends and family. Aloha.
*Stay tuned for an upcoming post on recipes made with the pumpkins I picked!
WAIMANALO COUNTRY FARMS PUMPKIN FESTIVAL • Every Saturday & Sunday during the month of October (9am-5pm) • 41-225 Lupe Street, Waimanalo, Hawaii 96795 • 808-306-4379 • www.waimanalocountryfarms.com • Free parking; Near bus route but must walk through neighborhood to farms