My one wish when visiting the island of Kauai, Hawaii was to be able to tour a chocolate farm. After looking through information we found the perfect place to visit – Lydgate Farms located at 5730 Olahena Road, Kapaa.
Farming in Hawaii has seen many iterations through the years. Many crops, including sugar cane and pineapples, have transitioned out due to high costs of labor and the condition of the soil. When we decided to make a stop at Lydgate Farms to check out their cacao products we did not realize the extent of what this fifth generation farm would offer.
We visited Lydgate Farms on a rainy, rainy day (one of many we had on our trip) and sloshed around in the mud a bit but it was well worth it. The farm is currently managed by William ‘Will’ Hibbs Lydgate, the fifth-generation of the family in Hawaii. Will gave us the perfect presentation and personal attention as we visited and we were happy to have had the chance to meet him.
I love their mission as stated on their website.
In Hawaiian, the phrase Malama ‘Aina means to care for the land so it can sustain life for future generations. As a fifth-generation family in Hawaii, we are honored to be stewards of both the land and local culture since 1867. We are proud to continue our family’s legacy through the experience of small-scale sustainable cacao farming, thoughtfully crafted chocolate, and educational farm tours on our historically-rich property.Lydgate Farms website
Will graciously showed us the cacao growing around the gift shop area, cut one off the tree and proceeded to cut it open to share the actual inside of the fruit. The pod itself is fairly thick and when cut open the insides are covered with a pulpy substance surrounding the many seeds inside. The bean itself is considered to be a seed and the seed is technically a nut so basically chocolate comes from the nut inside the fruit. Are you confused yet? I don’t know all the ins and outs of chocolate farming – all I care about is how wonderful the end result can taste.
The process of getting all of that deliciousness out of the plant is through fermentation. Will showed us the boxes where the fermentation was occurring and it struck me as being a fairly simple set up but it is monitored quite closely to ensure the proper level of fermentation is achieved.
Of course what I was most interested in was tasting the end result. Will shared that he sends the fermented product to a friend who has the facilities to make the artisan chocolates that bear the Lydgate name. We had ample opportunity to taste each kind of chocolate that he had for tasting and believe me – it was good. I dare say it is the best chocolate I have ever tasted and I have tasted a lot of chocolate over the years. This is quality chocolate.
There was so much information and science behind all of this wonderful flavor and I won’t pretend to understand a fraction of it. What I do understand is quality and dedication that this family has to their product. I am so impressed with their mission to maintain sustainability and promote good stewardship of their land while creating quality products. Their website is a wealth of information so if you want to know the story of their family and more about the farm please make sure you click on the links at the end of the blog post.
Other items that deserve mentioning are their vanilla and honey which also are available in the gift shop. A Farm Tour is another experience that the farm offers and even though we did not take the tour we felt like we had just the right experience with dropping in during the hours of gift shop operation. I am sure the Farm Tour is another great opportunity to get a bigger picture of the operation.
Have you ever been to a farm like this? I would love to hear about it. Remember that each comment made on the blog during the month means a 50 cent donation to our Comments for a Cause – Project: Music Heals Us.
Connect with Lydgate Farms and get more information by clicking the links below.