Makiyo and Moriichi Sumida began growing and marketing watercress in 1928, on five acres of Kalauao Springs’ land, a source of nourishment for Hawaiian people for more than a millenium, which the Sumidas lease from Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate. By 1928 Hawai’i already required that watercress for sale had to be grown in pure spring water, uncontaminated by animal waste runoff in mountain streams. The spring water of Kalauao is free from contamination. A recent multi-disciplinary study conducted by the University of Hawai’i confirmed the cool, bubbling Kalauao Spring water that flows throughout the farm is still clean and pure enough to drink from the source despite the urbanization of the surrounding area. Furthermore, this ‘Ike Wai study confirmed the positive cultural and environmental impacts the Kalauao Springs and Sumida Farm have on the community as a green oasis in the middle of what has become a concrete desert.

In 1928, watercress was one of the only locally grown green vegetables in islands taken over by sugar and pineapple industries in the previous century. Nearly 100 years later, Hawai’i continues to grapple with the challenges of food security for the islands, and the perpetuation of local agriculture has never been more important.
 Moriichi Sumida, Richard Minoru Sumida, Masaru Sumida, Makiyo Sumida, Masako Sumida (Yamamoto), Elsie Ayame Sumida (Suzuki), Ellen Hisako Sumida (Maneki).

Left to right:  Moriichi Sumida, Richard Minoru Sumida, Masaru Sumida, Makiyo Sumida, Masako Sumida (Yamamoto), Elsie Ayame Sumida (Suzuki), Ellen Hisako Sumida (Maneki). 


In the late 1970s, when the Diamondback moth crippled the watercress industry in Hawai’i and the growing of related crops worldwide, Sumida Farm Agronomist, John McHugh, found that an aerial sprinkler system could provide a natural deterrent to the moths’ reproduction cycle. This discovery saved Sumida Farm and the watercress industry and is still used as the primary source of pest control on our farm.

Over the last three decades, our farm has proudly hosted thousands of keiki on school field trips to the farm. For many keiki, this was the first opportunity to see a working farm and make a connection with the produce they see in restaurants and grocery stores and with the people caring for the land and growing their food.

Our Sumida Farm history is only a small blip in the long history of the ‘Āina. The Kalauao Springs serve as a reminder of how the land, water and people are interconnected. Kalauao means abundant clouds; these clouds produce rains that soak into the mountains and ‘Āina over many decades and supply the pure water in the underground aquifer of O’ahu, finally bubbling up and flowing across the farm on the porous shore of Pu’uloa, Pearl Harbor. Kalauao is a literal connection to the past, now supplying critical nourishment for the future. Join us in our mission to protect the islands’ natural, fresh water resources so we can continue to nourish the islands for generations to come.

Sumida Farm Eat Plenty Watercress label