HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kauai farmers Valerie and Derwin Kaneshiro raise hogs and produce pork. It’s strenuous work.
"Pigs are hard. Pigs are rough. You have to be strong," Valerie said.
The Kaneshiro family’s history of pig farming on Kauai stretches back to 1920 and Derwin Kaneshiro’s grandfather, Ushi Kaneshiro, who peddled pork to supplement his income.
"The Kaneshiros have been a big part of the community here," Valerie said.
Over four generations, the family has perfected the practice of preparing pigs for market. Their animals are so healthy the farm has supplied breeding stock for other pig farms.
"Our slogan was keep the culture alive," Valerie said. "We'd have whole families come just to choose the pig, and they'd take it live and cook it themselves."
But early next year the Kaneshiros’ hog farm will end operations. The couple is retiring and Valerie Kaneshiro is sick.
"I want them to know that I do have Stage 4 pancreatic cancer because I would not voluntarily close the farm ever," she said.
Kaneshiro Farms once had 1,800 hogs in its herd, but that number has gone way down.
"We are reducing the herd. People are looking for our breeding stock," Valerie said.
As word gets out, local pork producers are contacting Valerie Kaneshiro to learn her farming methods that won state and national awards.
"I think I've always had that in me, that desire to teach," she said.
She’s undergoing chemotherapy and is optimistic about her cancer battle.
"I'm hoping for a miracle," she said.
Next year, the Kaneshiros celebrate 100 years in the hog farming business. They’ll continue providing pork for Kauai fundraisers and family luaus until the last of their pigs go to market.