It's Not Easy
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A Grove Farm Story . . . Remie Eugenio
“Farming is hard. You have to continuously dedicate yourself”, says Remie Eugenio as he looks out over his papaya fields. Remie has indeed dedicated himself to his farm – producing anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 pounds of Sunrise papayas a week on the fertile slopes of Grove Farm’s Lihu‘e lands.
Remie has been farming on his Grove Farm parcel since 2002 and has been able to withstand papaya diseases, inclement weather, and some unwelcomed guests. When asked why some of his matured trees grew with a curved c-shaped trunk while others stood straight up, he said that wild pigs would ransack his farm, and hit the young trees so the ripe papayas would fall to the ground. He has since installed a wire fence along the perimeter.
Remie has three large papaya fields – each field at different stages of maturity. To keep up with the market’s demand, he must carefully assess his crop rotations to ensure a consistent harvest. The youngest crop will take some time before it bears papayas, and the field with the tallest trees is nearing the end of its three-year life. Remie considered cutting them down, but had second thoughts, as he needed the harvest to supplement his smaller field. “Farming is a gamble.” Remie laments.
It is a gamble that Remie had the courage to make when he began the farm. He emigrated from the Philippines in 1986 where he found work in the hotel industry. When the hotel changed ownership, Remie had to look for other work. With the encouragement of his friend Ben Ednilao, Remie began growing papayas. “He teach me everything about growing papayas,” Remie said about Ben who is also a nearby farmer and lessee of Grove Farm. With a slight quiver in his voice, he takes off his glasses to wipe his eyes and said he gets teary whenever he talks about Ben. “I cannot repay him, . . . he help me a lot, . . . he is not selfish.” The sincerity in his voice is touching, and you begin to understand the bonds of friendship amongst this community of dedicated and hardworking farmers.
Remie’s papayas are distributed on Kaua’i by a local wholesaler or can be found at the sunshine markets throughout the island.
Please contact the Grove Farm office at (808) 245-3678 if you are interested in purchasing papayas.