Ask anyone around the world for items they associate with Hawaii and the pineapple will likely get listed within the first three bullets. Though many are surprised to learn that pineapples are not even native to the Hawaiian Islands, their associated legacy prevails. Today pineapples are a massive corporate export of the islands, thanks to companies like Dole, and simultaneously have become an international symbol of hospitality, of which the islands are so widely known. Planting new, less corporate roots in the industry are farms like Forbidden Valley Pineapple Farm. Tucked high up in the hills of Kalaheo, new seeds grow a new future for the industry.
Opened by Mr. Abbott in 2000, the farm prides itself on very low quantity and exceedingly high quality. Nodding to the exclusivity of the product, their team likes to think of their farm as “the Belgian Monastery of pineapple.
When Mr. Abbott purchased the land, he agreed to let the existing pineapple farmer and his family continue to grow their plots on the property. His plan was to relocate from California to Kaua'i and sell the farm’s produce to Kauai’s local community.
Abbott is not your average farmer. Trading work clothes for business suits, anyone who meets him can recognize his business acumen and formality. Around the farm, he drives his International Harvester Scout. Built by the agricultural company International Harvester for farm work, this workhorse was the precursor to the modern SUV. He rebuilt this iconic car himself, updating the interior with sewn leather pockets into the doors, then painting it Aston Martin blue. Over the years, he’s rebuilt more than a dozen Aston Martins, which is admittedly not a common trope for the average pineapple farmer.
The Forbidden Pineapple cultivar is equally as unique. In the farming world, cultivar refers to “the variety of plant that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding.” The Forbidden Pineapple is a cultivar that originated from the University of Hawaii and is a non-GMO hybrid, low in acid, and sweeter naturally than any competitors, such as Dole. Forbidden Pineapple is exclusive to Kaua'i, so travelers cannot find these sold everywhere. The core of this cultivar, the most nutritious part of the whole fruit, is known for its density. The product is known to be juicy, sweet, and smooth because of this density.
October is planting season, when pineapples enter their first stage of growth, appearing as flowers. The fruiting process takes 18 months and during the month of June, harvesting begins, continuing through August. At Forbidden Valley Pineapple Farm, this process takes place high up, overlooking Kauai and the ocean below.
Forbidden Valley pineapples are sold at a select handful of local businesses on Kaua'i. Additionally, the popular pineapple ONO Pops are made with Forbidden’s fruit. If you are lucky enough to visit Lihue during harvest season, stop by Aloha Spirits, across from Japanese Grandma, a local favorite sushi spot. Clyde Ajamoura, who operates the shop, is Abbott’s mentor and sells them out of his shop for $2 per pound.