This family farm is now in the hands of a millennial and he's got big dreams for it

Updated: Dec. 20, 2017 at 10:26 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
( Image: Hawaii News Now )
( Image: Hawaii News Now )

HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At a time when family farms seem to be fading, Otsuji Farms in Hawaii Kai hopes to turn over a new leaf.

Since 1954, Ed Otsuji has worked the same plot of land his dad used to work to grow carnations.

"We scrounged some used equipment, old pipes. That's how we initially started," he said.

Otsuji harvests leafy greens from four-and-a-half acres he leases from Kamehameha Schools. He sells them to supermarkets and at open markets, and enjoys the fruit of his labor.

"I just enjoy having a food supply. Part of my joy is to harvest a head of lettuce for the evening salad," he said.

Otsuji is 79 and ready to step aside. He inherited the farm from his father and is transferring ownership to his son.

"It's more an honor to be the heir of the farm. You know what I mean? It's been my grandpa, him, me," Jonas Otsuji said.

You may know the name from Jonas' video clips as the Hawaii chef who specializes in sushi creations. He also starred a season on the CBS reality show "Survivor."

And Otsuji has big plans for his new venture.

"I want to optimize the farm," he said. "Up until this point it's been real old school, turning on the sprinklers by hand. That kind of stuff is just not efficient."

Otsuji plans to bring in a business partner, upgrade old equipment, and work to turn Otsuji Farms into a certified organic farm. He'll use his chef skills to boost sales, creating signature food products from the farm's produce.

HIs father always wanted his farm to thrive and continue for more generations of Otsuji.

"That was like a dream that I thought could not happen," he said.

"When you go to the farmers market and you see the people and they thank you, and they're like, 'I love your dad.' It's just like, man, I can't be the guy to cut of this legacy," Jonas Otsuji said.

Otsuji is the youngest of three sons. His father believes he's the right one to keep the family business growing.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.