Kauai Chocolate Tour Blog

Chocolate Tour on Kauai

Steelgrass Farms offers a guided educational Kauai Chocolate Tour of everything there is to know about chocolate. Including growing cacao trees, harvesting and curing cacao beans all the way to the finished product everyone loves.

Hawaii is the only state where the chocolate tree grows, and the best place to experience a live chocolate tree orchard is the Lydgate family’s eight-acre Steelgrass Farm. This tour is family-friendly kids 12 and under attend free with an accompanying adult. With so much to see, smell, learn about and taste the Farm’s wide-open spaces make this a wonderful event for all ages even small children.

Diversified Agriculture at Steelgrass Farm

Like the other Hawaiian Islands, Kauai began losing its two monocrops, sugar and pineapple, not long after the end of the Second World War. Within the space of a generation, our island’s lowlands went from intensive deliberate cultivation, based on the colonial plantation model, to near-total abandonment. The vast areas on Kauai today covered by open fields, which island visitors view as pleasantly green and inviting, are actually testaments to the failure of plantation-style monocropping. These abandoned fields now are interspersed with tall grasses and groves of younger trees, unfortunately representing species that are among the most aggressive of our many plant invaders.

Steelgrass Farm is committed to helping our island return to agriculture, but in a way that makes sense given the realities of today’s social and economic circumstances. In our view, large-scale industrial agriculture, with its reliance on monocropping and its requirement for intensive capital investment in machinery and infrastructure, is unlikely to work. Instead, we believe the key to restoring farm viability on Kauai has to do with converting as many of its residents as possible into part-time farmers, and making it practical and economically viable for multiple smallholders to grow diversified crops. In order to gain experience with crops that fit this vision, and to educate our Kauai neighbors about how to plant, tend, harvest and market them, we’ve dedicated Steelgrass as a teaching farm specializing in three crops: timber bamboo, vanilla, and theobroma cacao, the chocolate tree.