The Cream of the Crop

September 24, 2019

A farmer wins a tourism award.

The remarkable juxtaposition reflects the evolution of The Farm at Hokuala and Farmer Cody Meyer’s involvement therein: namely, the farm’s evolution from an emergent fruit orchard into an abundant agri-tourism draw and community centerpiece—a development Meyer welcomes but didn’t entirely foresee.

“They just said, ‘Cody make a farm.’ I just started plugging away, planting trees, and that’s when traction started building,” he said. “Now we’re front-and-center. It’s a whole new take on farming: not only entertaining but productive.”

The aptly named Pineapple 20 Awards—hosted annually by Pacific Business News (PBN)— honor individuals “for their leadership in the industry, their achievements in presenting an authentic Hawaii visitor experience, and their community involvement,” according to the PBN website.

“It’s neat to have Hokuala nominated, in the sense that it’s a new resort and they’re bringing a farmer to the table,” said Meyer, who was nominated in June and learned he was one of 20 honorees in July of this year.  

More broadly, the nod speaks to Timbers Resorts’ commitment to developing Hokuala responsibly, with an eye to sustainability and authentic Kauaian culture. Gary Moore, Managing Director at Hokuala, credits Meyer for growing the concept into a highlight of Hokuala resort.

“The idea quickly became reality once we met Cody Meyer,” Moore said. “We are so fortunate to have his passion and dedication for farming, which is equally matched with his service to the community and commitment to enriching our Owners’ and guests’ experiences.”

For his part, Meyer describes the progression of The Farm at Hokuala in phases. Phase one was the fruit orchard and tree planting; phase two was the chef’s vegetable garden; and he sees phase three as value-added acreage, such as vanilla beans, coffee, chocolate and honey.  But concurrently, it’s become a destination in its own right, a sort of meta-phase that Meyer relishes and lends itself ideally to the ethos of the Pineapple 20 Awards.

“Tourism is the top economic driver on Kauai, so now we’re kind of going back to where it all began,” he said of the fascination with his organic, working farm. “It’s bringing people back to the earth.”

To Meyer, everything begins with the earth, so it makes sense his globe-trotting career in what he dubs the culinary arts would overlap with agri-tourism at Hokuala, where he says nearly 50 percent of his time is lately dedicated to tours with Owners, guests and local visitors.

“The tour itself is a classroom.  It’s a point by which we can educate people about Kauai tradition and where their food comes from,” he said. “When people actually sit down and eat the carrot that they helped harvest, they really connect the dots.”

In addition to weekly tours, Meyer focuses largely on giving back to the community, another aspect of his efforts honored by the award. He has crafted an agriculture education program and works with sustainability-focused nonprofit Malama Kauai to provide harvest surpluses to food banks and local schools—all in addition to providing farm-fresh fare to Hualani’s Restaurant. Even more, Farmer Cody was recognized by the Kauai County Fair in August, receiving multiple blue ribbons for his gorgeous organic produce—produce he loves to donate to the community.

“We usually give away 300 to 400 pounds per month and that’s increasing,” Meyer said. “As production increases, we’re able to give more away.”

Ultimately, Meyer emphasizes that the continued interest in The Farm at Hokuala is beneficial to its ongoing success and sees the Pineapple 20 Award as reflective of the growing travel sector—one he strongly believes essential to a return to sustainability on the island and beyond.

“Agri-tourism is making a return to the scene. It’s not only desired, it’s necessary at this point,” Meyer said. “I’m very thankful people are interested in farming.”