By Kyle Suzuki

Here at Sumida Farm we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to host and partner with some of the islands best creators.  The farm has been an inspiration for chefs, musicians, and many artists over the years.  Sharing an up close look at our aina and our farm experience is important to us.  An artist whose work we have admired and were finally able to host at the farm recently was candicedoodles.  We recently had her visit to tour our farm and sat down to talk story with her.  Ultimately that visit turned into a really special and beautiful educational postcard Candice created for us to use as part of our keiki field trips next school year.  We can't wait to share these postcards with future visitors to take home to share and put on display for their families.  We asked Candice to share more about herself and what she found inspiring about visiting Sumida Farm.



Tell us about yourself, how long have you been an artist, and how would you describe your art style?

I am originally from Singapore, but moved to Hawai’i after meeting a local boy (and my now-husband) in Okinawa!  I’ve been lucky to call Oahu home for the past 6 years.  Art has always been a hobby of mine since I was a child, although I never took art classes and always just doodled and drew at my leisure, especially in class (oops!).  There was a very long period of time where I did not dabble in art at all, and I only rediscovered my love for it while I was living in Okinawa.  Funnily enough, I used to only draw in black pen, but my art has evolved to encompass a more colorful and whimsical watercolor doodle style with a focus on nature, architecture, food, and traveling.

Tell us about the postcard you created and what inspiration you took from Sumida Farm?

The postcard I created for Sumida Farm features doodles of many of the farm’s recognizable landmarks and icons, such as the grass shack, field workers, different specific animals found at the farm (including Mr. Turtle!), and of course, watercress.  The back of the postcard holds the recipe for Sumida Farm’s famous Keiki Watercress Dip - a popular and easy-to-make dish for adults and kids alike.  The dual purpose of the postcard was to highlight the natural and historical beauty of the farm while serving up a practical and well-loved recipe that could be kept for many years to come; I imagined something bright and beautiful that I would want to keep on my fridge door or recipe box instead of throwing it away.



What was your favorite part about visiting Sumida Farm?

I had a wonderful time visiting Sumida Farm and learning about its rich and storied history as Hawaii’s biggest, family-owned watercress farm.  My favorite part was getting to wade in the freshwater stream at the back of the farm, feeling the cool and gentle current of the Kalauao Springs tickle my legs as it made its way to nourish the watercress fields.  The farm is a true oasis, and I was surprised by how quiet it was back there, the sounds of the stream somehow louder than the constant hum of cars surrounding both sides of the farm - it felt like nature’s way of saying that it would always be there, and that brought me a lot of comfort.

I also loved getting to try the watercress dip and watercress ginger lime soda prepared by the very talented Chef Chris on the farm!  Everything was so incredibly ono and refreshing - what a treat that really opened my eyes, mind, and tastebuds to the wonders of watercress!


You mentioned education is important to you, how do you bring educational elements into your creative work and what were things you learned about the farm through this project?

Aside from being an artist, I’m also a high school teacher and I believe it’s extremely important to use any opportunity to educate.  Nowadays, it’s so easy for kids (and adults) to get lost in the neverending barrage of visuals and information on social media and the Internet.  But why not look at something interesting and learn from it?  Through my art, I try to pair eye-catching visuals with important information in the hopes that at least one person will learn something new.  Many of my doodles include fun facts about a place, culture, plant, or dish to engage the viewer in different ways.  I also sometimes write longer captions on my social media posts to accompany the artwork.  When I go to a new place, I always try to absorb as much as I can to convey its essence through my art.

When I visited Sumida Farm for the first time, I came away with a whole new understanding and appreciation for the farm, its land, and the people who run it.  The natural Kalauao Spring, which once nourished taro lo’i and rice fields, continues to lay the perfect foundation for watercress to grow. In spite of rapid urbanization, the farm relies on this pure water source that has remained constant in an ever-changing landscape.  I also learned that the purpose of the aerial sprinkler system is not for moisture, but to keep pests at bay in as clean and natural a way as possible.  The water coating the watercress prevents moths from laying their eggs and eating away at the leaves while also keeping the temperature cool.  Learning about the logistics of running a farm that supplies most of the state’s watercress was an eye-opening experience and an absolute privilege.  Thank you, Sumida Farm for having me!

Mahalo nui loa Candice for spending time at our farm and for bringing our farm to life through your beautiful artwork and we can't wait to share these with visiting keiki! 

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