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Organic Shade grown Coffee along our River and natural Orchard!

This beginning was a surprise to us. After coming to the property and deciding on the first phase of designs, layouts, possible areas for crops, new walkways for better access and enjoyment of the land, and more airflow for existing plants and to reduce the mosquito population, we discovered along the river “WILD COFFEE”. Old beautiful trees and hundreds of keikis. All growing wild, crowded, thin without the necessary sunlight, but beautiful and organic!

So at this point we knew of one crop for sure! Since we are working on getting our organic certification and also integrating the knowledge of Permaculture, Biocynamic gardening and local wisdom, it could not have been beter. We invited a friend from the Maui Coffee Growers Association to help us identify our Tipica coffee, and give us his well proven recommendations. So we started clearing an area for more light and to give space to the plants, potted some saller Coffee plants and transplanted to bigger areas with more light to compare the yield production and taste. All our Coffee plants are self sustained – we gave them a healthy natural start with compost, soil and a little mineral mix. The plants are doing well, by next year we can expect a small crop frfom the transplants. We harvest around September through December.

In Haiku, Upcountry Maui, we have similar weather conditions as Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, with volcanic soil and a subtropical climate. Here in Haiku, we have more nutrients on virgin land, natural growing Coffee with some up to 20 years old, natural river and ground water, self watering, and some good sunshine.

The statistical yield of coffee cherries to green coffee beans is about 10 to 1. So 10 pounds of coffee cherries will get you about 1 pound of roasted coffee.

2007 Update: Our first harvesting period which took place once in each of two months yielded about 15 pounds of coffee cherries. They were processed down to the final hulling to reveal the green bean until the next year when they could be added to a larger yield for the final step in processing.

2008 update: Our second harvest from the wild plants, still shade grown but with a little more sunlight than before from the clearing of some of the large Rose Apple trees, yielded 80 pounds of coffee cherries! Although not a robust yield in terms of commercial coffee production, especially with the unforeseen amount of labor required for the harvest alone, we were still happy to find that allowing more sun in to the plants definitely boosted the yield. And the beans themselves were pretty robust – large and a beautiful green color. Our affiliation with the Maui Coffee Growers Association has been very beneficial to us, and our new sustainable organic farmer friends from the association, Gerry and Janet Ross, have provided an invaluable amount of moral support and processing assistance. Uh, in fact, they did it all! Then taking it to be roasted in Kahului we ended up with about 15 pounds of roasted coffee – about 5 or 6 more pounds than we were expecting! Very exciting!

The plan for this crop next is to finally thin some plants out leaving about 6 feet in between, trim some, and prune others. The transplanted plants did not produce cherries but are healthy and are growing. Although these plants will stay in place, we have determined at least for now, that we would rather just nurture the plants already in their chosen areas and allow them to grow there. As sun is definitely a necessity to their optimal health, so is shade! We will next also work on the suggested percentage of shade as much as the specifics of this land and our resources will allow.