It’s been nearly a year and a half since a New York real estate investment firm reached a deal to buy the Turtle Bay resort. Several hundred acres adjacent to the resort have been preserved for farming—and progress is being made on that part of the project.
When Blackstone purchased the Turtle Bay Resort in 2017 for $332 million, it acquired 1,300 acres of land.
A little more than a third of that had been set aside for farmland under a conservation easement through a collaboration with the resort, the Trust for Public Land, the U.S. Army, the state and the City and County of Honolulu.
Blackstone recently hired a local nonprofit, Pono Pacific, to oversee the management and farm operations on these lands, under a two-year contract that could be renewed.
Pono Pacific’s first tasks are to fence the perimeter of the property to deter agricultural theft, which has been a problem on the North Shore, and plant native vegetation along its border with Kamehameha Highway.
Next comes efforts to improve the infrastructure for the 12 farmers who currently grow basil, papaya, mango and avocado on about half of the 460 acres. This will include establishing a food safety certification facility on site so the farmers will be able to sell their crops directly to the resort and other restaurants.
Pono Pacific is also testing out the possibility of creating renewable energy by using five acres for a trial crop of biofuel. There’s something for everyone in Pono’s plans — community gardens are in the works as well, which would allow employees at the resort and members of the community to cultivate small plots of land.