When Keolanui first met Ed Olson, more than twenty years ago, agriculture no longer held much promise for Hawai‘i’s families, and Troy made his living working at a restaurant. He began to help Olson with the clearing of some land and the building of stone walls.
In 2002, he formed a partnership with Olson for OK Farms on the Wailuku river in Hilo, which was partially planted in macadamia nuts, had been in agriculture for over 100 years, and could be cleared to open to magnificent natural vistas, including unique and daring close-up views of Rainbow Falls.
Running with the opportunity, Keolanui was able to transform the property into a thriving diversified farm, eco-destination, and community site. From its original 500 acres at the start, he doubled it in size. The father of five children, Keolanui has created a plentiful oasis doubling as a viable business, which through strong management, tight team work, and right stewardship invites a next generation to participate. It’s a huge feat.
The farm’s success depends in large part on Keolanui’s vision and farming skills, his long-term relationships with local wholesalers, continuing willingness to learn and diversify, and, above all, his passion for this Hawai‘i land. But Keolanui himself? He just says he is lucky to be able to farm. “The land will always be here,” he says. “We do our part to make it better.” Keolanui also serves on the Board of Directors for AYSO Soccer Hilo, doubling as Field Manager, and as President of Pu‘ueo Farms Association, which governs 56 agricultural lots in the area.