The property was originally bought from the sugar cane industry in the late 50s early 60s and was owned by a couple who raised a family and horses. There is/was an original prewar building from the sugar cane industry, and they built a nice tri-level house. They were some of the original homesteaders in this subdivision on this road, and they lived here for many years. Thanks to them, we have many established trees, and some awesome landscaping that they did, so they clearly invested themselves into the land. From our research and the stories told, in the 90s they divorced, and the husband moved away. The wife stayed and lived in the house. Unfortunately, there was an accident with her cats and candles, and the main house was burned down. She ended up selling to the gentleman we bought from and she moved back to the mainland to be with her family. He held the property for several years with the best intention to build on it, but never ended up having the time to rebuild, so it sat and started being reclaimed by the jungle and overgrown.
Fast forward to us taking possession…
We took possession of the property in early spring, and immediately began our plan of attack. The main goal was to somehow make the property livable, so we could move out of the Airbnb and stop paying rent there. We figured any money spent on rent at the Airbnb would go much further on our own property. We debated long and hard to determine the plan, but in the end, my lady was firm that the plan would be tent camp on the property while we build a rehab the Sugar Shack, and GTFO of the Airbnb, even if meant being uncomfortable. We went thru and figured what it would take bare minimum and got to work to set it up and make it happen. We figured we needed a place set up camp, a place to cook, sleep, be dry, shower, have drinking water, power of some variety, and a human waste setup. We ordered up a tent, a propane camp stove, water pumps, canopies, and got a 250-gallon water tank off Facebook. (Look for the links to the items I used below. Everything is available on amazon and clicking the link helps support my page and our continued growth here at DFG)
I cannot even begin to lie and say I was not worried this was going to be moving too fast or too uncomfortable. I was concerned that tent living would be to much, and that my lady would end up regretting it, so was hesitant to cancel the Airbnb at first. But we moved forward anyways, and we got our camp setup. We got the shower built and working, got the air mattress into the tent, set up a bucket composter, and cooked our first meal in camp. We talked, and debated, but decided we had already thrown caution to the wind by even moving to Hawaii, and let’s go ahead and make the jump. Every time we spent time at the Airbnb we just wanted to be at the property, and every hour spent at the property got work done, so it seemed right. We moved all our main belongings over but did not fully move out of the AirBnb until we got power figured out.
One of my biggest concerns was getting a refrigerator setup, as the DFG seed collection / seed stock is hands down one of our most valuable possessions, and my livelihood and the jungle climate is notorious about destroying seeds. I am by no means an expert, but I had done a ton of research on solar systems and decided to go ahead and DIY a simple setup. We started with 4 interstate 6v golf cart batteries, an outback charge controller, a cotek inverter (For the sake of clarity – I ABSOLUTELY DON’T recommend Cotek) a Midnight Battery Disconnect, 3 325-Watt Solar Panels, and a simple sub-panel. I wired up the batteries all in series to make them 24v, ran the original Cotek, got the solar panels and charge controller wired in, and got the first AC plugs setup. We also picked up a honda generator, as well as an aims battery charger, so we could charge the bank up, run large power tools, and just in case basically. Once I had the bugs worked out, and the system producing power, we purchased a fridge, loaded her up with the seed collection, and moved onto the land.
While tent camping on 3 acres in Hawaii does sound romantic, and in many ways, it was, but it was also quite the challenging adventure. We spent many nights with sideways rain still making it in under the canopy and thru tent windows, listening to thunder and lightning, as the canopy and tent shook from the wind. The first month or so we were sleeping on an air mattress, waking up on the ground many mornings, and having to repatch it several times. I can honestly say I do not think our little family was dry at all the whole time we lived in the tent, between the humidity sweats, rain, dew, and a muddy dog. At first, we were using a bucket and peat moss as a composting style pooper…and let me tell ya…you never appreciate flushing toilets till you are trying to use a bucket in sideways tropical rain. But hey, it all builds character, right?!
Growing wise, I got right to work, and had seeds popped at first opportunity. We got the vegetative greenhouse setup as quickly as possible and started vegging up the first run. It took about a month to get the flower greenhouse shipped in from the mainland, but once she arrived, it was set up in our palm circle, plants were moved down, and we got the maiden run flipped. The first cycle we did here in Hawaii went about as well as we expected. It was a run that I went into with low expectations, as it was an introduction to the tropics, and to explore the differences between mainland growing vs Hawaii growing. We had already done a lot of research, so knew that there would be some complex challenges to overcome. The greenhouse looked empty by the time that first run was harvested, but all things considered, I still count it as a success.
That run was predominantly my celestial dragon line (picture below) Stardawg x Dragons Stash F2 red male, as well as a mix of various seed lines we ran in small numbers, as well as some clone only plants. We went heaviest on my Celestial dragon line and had about two dozen female from seed in the run. I picked this line first out of the whole collection of a simple reason – dependability. Both sides of the cross had shown to be winners in tougher climates, so I figured it would be the nice opener to the tropical conditions.
We were pleasantly surprised, but also realized that a strict IPM protocol, coupled with intense selection processes, would be critical to success. That first cycle we saw just about every type of bug and fungus there is, from leaf hoppers, leaf miners, caterpillars, mites, slugs, thrips, and rots and mildews and many plants ended up just having to be composted. While much of that first crop ended up no where near something that I would be proud to show, we did pull off some nice celestial dragon flowers, and some nice Modified MacBerry Flowers that showed us that it could be done. From there I knew it was just a matter of learning, improving, making proper selections, working lines, and finding the true gems that could grow, or better yet, thrive, in the extreme tropical climate of windward Hawaii.