Farming History

Organic Farms in Hawaii

Gingerhill is one of the many organic farms in Hawaii that share the land’s unique cultural history. Polynesian canoe travelers discovered the Big Island 1,500 years ago. Though the island has been host to political transition and cultural influx, much of their language and tradition have survived. Host to the influence of European travelers, Southeast Asian immigrants and Mexican ranchers, the Big Island possesses a unique culture that arose at the intersection of drastically different histories and practices.

Cook, Cattle, and Culture

Prior to the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1779, the Big Island was a conglomeration of warring chiefdoms. However, the chiefdoms were united under the rule of King Kamehameha in 1791. The arrival of the Europeans had a drastic impact on the Hawaiian way of life, as the introduction of cattle and sugar facilitated the growth of ranching and sugar plantation economies. The legacy of this cultural collision is evident in Gingerhill’s stonewall borders, created by Hawaiian cowboys or “paniolos.” The paniolos learned from ranchers imported from Mexico in 1832, who attempted to establish control over Hawaii’s dense population of wild cattle. Though Hawaiian in origin, the paniolos propagated a culture rooted in European, Asian, and Hispanic practices.

Gingerhill resides in Kealakekua, a quaint town on Hawaii Island’s sunny west side. Kealakekua, which shares its name with Kealakekua Bay, derives from the Hawaiian phrase kea la ke kua, “the God’s pathway.” The bay played host to Makahiki, the traditional Hawaiian ceremony to worship the Hawaiian fertility god Lono-i-ka-makahiki. The ceremony was a multi-day feast and celebration, featuring rituals, worship, and gift-giving.

It was at the Makahiki of 1779 that Captain Cook arrived at Kealakekua Bay. The natives mistook him for their fertility god, showering him with gifts and praise. However, when the failure of a subsequent voyage betrayed Cook’s mortality, fighting broke out between the Hawaiians and sailors. The ongoing violence and deceit culminated in Captain Cook’s death on February 14, 1779. Today, two miles from Gingerhill, a trail provides access to Kealakekua Bay and to the monument erected in Cook’s honor

The Bay Today

The Bay is now a marine life conservation district ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. It is also a resting, feeding, and nursing site for Hawaii’s famous spinner dolphins. Though Cook’s arrival was controversial, his monument commemorates the cultural impact that his journey would yield in subsequent centuries. Gingerhill Farm is one of the organic farms in Hawaii that most readily provides guests with easy access to this popular recreational and historical site.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter


News, videos, updates, and way more helpful and valuable information about farming, agriculture, cooking and community living!

You have Successfully Subscribed!