In blow to local food production, a specialized trout farm suspends operations

Founder and CEO John Dobovan says they were only in Phase 1 of their business plan.
Published: Nov. 13, 2022 at 4:34 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2022 at 11:53 AM HST
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MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s first and only rainbow trout aquaponics farm is ending operations at the end of the year. However, they are still holding on to hope for a revitalization in the future.

After four years in business Kulahaven Farms is closing it’s doors. Founder and CEO John Dobovan says they were only in Phase 1 of their business plan.

The farm is located in Upcountry Maui. They sell organically-certified baby watercress to retailers across Maui and Times Supermarkets on Oahu. Their rainbow trout is also sold to the world-renowned Mama’s Fish House in Paia.

In 2021, they produced over 200,000 meals, however recent economic challenges heavily impacted their operations. They were also setback by a large power outage that halted their operations in August.

All of the factors left them with no other choice.

“We’ve been on threat of losing the lease since COVID struck. We lost half of our income overnight and it didn’t return for a very long time,” Dobovan said.

“Our electric bill for example went up by 50%. We haven’t raised our rates,” he added. “We’re doing this because we’re very concerned about Hawaii’s food security and I just need to find partners that are equally concerned they’re out there.”

They plan to continue to harvest until the end of the year, with about 3,000 trout left in house.

Kulahaven Farms says they are looking at other options for farm land on Maui, and they hope to make it to the next phase of their business plan, which is to build hundreds of small partner farms across Hawaii.