The Freshest Watercress
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A Grove Farm Story . . . Bruce Jacintho
Mother nature’s fresh spring water and the warmth of the Haiku sunshine provide optimum conditions for watercress. Bruce Jacintho has carefully tended these watercress patches on Grove Farm’s mauka lands for the last sixteen years. Its history, however, extends well over a hundred years.
Bruce explains that watercress patches need a constant flow of fresh water. To create these patches, Chinese immigrant laborers built moss-rock walls, which formed the enclosures that channel the fresh water. Along with other tributaries, this water eventually makes its way to the Huleia Stream.
Bruce further explains how these rocks, without the use of machinery, came from much heavier, once-immovable boulders. “They would build fires on the large boulders. When it was hot, they threw cold water on the boulders to make it crack.”
Exploring and fishing in the Haiku area, Bruce knew about these watercress patches as a young child. He rattles off a list of former Grove Farm sugar employees who maintained these patches over the years. In the late 1990s and towards the end of his time as the supervisor of security at Kukui Grove Shopping Center, Bruce saw an opportunity to revive these once neglected watercress patches.
He has had to contend with stinkbugs and diamond back moths, feral pigs and chickens. His passion for what he does is reflected in how he views his farm. “I not trying to make money…I not going get rich…I want to give the people fresh watercress (picked the same day it is sold) at a good deal.” Indeed, Bruce’s watercress is not only fresh, but it’s a fraction of the price paid for supermarkets’ imported watercress.
These peppery flavored greens, with its hollowed stems and delicate leaves, are delicious in a variety of dishes. When asked what’s his favorite way to eat watercress, Bruce replies, “With pork, in hekka, soups…some put it in their saimin too.” He shares that watercress is a rich source of vitamins and nutrients. They contain many medicinal and healing properties, and Bruce knows of people who juice watercress for its healing properties.
A life long resident of Kauai, when not tending to his watercress patches or marketing it at the local Hanapepe or Lihue Farmers’ Market, you can find Bruce fishing or golfing.
Please contact the Grove Farm office at (808) 245-3678 if you are interested in purchasing watercress from Bruce Jacintho.