Since the early 1990’s Paul and Jude Huber have been intrigued by the allure of what the royalty of Renaissance Europe knew: that pineapple is a true celebrity, the ultimate exotic fruit. So it was only natural to be destined to grow the most elementally ideal pineapple, Sugarloaf. Pineapple is recognized as a symbol of hospitality dating back to colonial America and anyone that knows Jude and Paul can tell you that they are all about hospitality. Naturally they would be intrinsically drawn to growing Sugarloaf Pineapple and they have been doing just that for over twenty years.
How it all began:
Storybook romance, girl meets boy at Thanksgiving dinner. Fireworks go off, the sun shines brighter, the grass is greener and the synergy begins. Paul was educated at Cal Poly a degree in agriculture, majoring in Fruit Science; Jude was schooled by Hana Maui in the 70’s. The Hawaiians embraced this little energized New Yorker and the exotic beauty of the jungles of East Maui planted a love of the land and farming in a way that is difficult to describe with words. Eating one of their Sugarloaf does.
Paul was raised in Sierra Madre, California and when he was 17 helped crew a Transpac sailboat race to Hanalei on the North Shore of Kauaʻi. It was on that day in 1969 that Kauaʻi set its gentle hooks, and after graduating from Cal Poly - a couple of decades sidetracked building custom homes on the Central Coast in California and on Maui - it took Hurricane Iniki to reel him back to Kauaʻi. Paul returned to help a college friend rebuild his farm following the devastation of Iniki and a farming partnership evolved.
Jude was raised in Yonkers, New York. A highly energized child, older parents and the Sixties conspired to convince her parents when she was twelve to send her off to spend a summer living with her older brother on his organic farm in Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu. It was 1969 and the hook was set. Jude gets quite nostalgic reminiscing about those heady days, eating raw corn from the fields, the surf scene, the shells, and the emotional appeal of such raw beauty and freedom. Jude always moves a little faster than others and beginning with a begrudging return home she quickly arranged to graduate from high school in three years, moving herself to Oahu in 1972 for a ‘college’ of life education. Jude’s first purchases were a surfboard and a motorcycle, passions that would sustain her youthful lifestyle indefinitely. The motorcycle faded and the surfboards multiplied. Jude spent summers working on farms in Hana, Maui, and winters on her brother’s farm. Oahu’s increasing population sent her scurrying to Maui in the Eighties. Searching for a affordable larger farm she packed up for a year, farming in Tahiti and another year in Costa Rica and finally putting down roots on Kauaʻi in 2000. “Kauaʻi is perfect”, she says, “surf, sun, a big farm and Paul, the love of my life”.
Paul loves sailing and Jude loves waves. They both love snowboarding and kayaking and they are completely smitten with their Parson Russell Terrier dog, Panda. The remote location of their farm excluded the all too consuming TV from their lives and their constant humorous banter around the house seems to take up any free time. Both are quick to acknowledge, “We could put in some satellite system but we love our life without TV.”
Hole in the Mountain Farm is the dream realized for both Paul and Jude and they are quick to include others in their dream. They purchased the farm as part of a larger parcel in 1997 in partnership with a college friend, together forming MPC Corporation to farm exotic tropical fruit. On hundreds of acres in Moloaʻa, they planted Sunrise papaya, Sugarloaf pineapple, rambutan, longan and avocados. The partnership ended and Paul and Jude set off on their own in 2000, all the while trusting they’d find a way to make it work. During the partnership years Paul planted and harvested over 40 acres of Sugarloaf, shipping over 20,000lbs a week to LA, however the end of the partnership also ended the supply of Sugarloaf plant material. But the hook had been set, Sugarloaf was part of what made Kauaʻi so special, eating Sugarloaf right out of the field, cooled by the early morning dew and sharing it with their friends had to continue. In fact it was to become a lifestyle. With 38 acres left from the partnership the dream blossomed. Trying to stay afloat during difficult times, with full time jobs they set about building their home. After hours and on weekends this industrious pair were busy growing, harvesting, and selling rambutan, and planting Sugarloaf pineapple, plumeria, longan, and mango.
Sugarloaf is the only pineapple Paul and Jude have ever planted, in fact they consider all other varieties to be contaminants. One taste of this sweet aromatic pineapple and it’s easy to understand. Planting Sugarloaf was limited by lack of available and trustworthy propagation stock. Since it takes 18-24 months to produce the first pineapple, securing planting material, sure to be Sugarloaf, was imperative. Perseverance runs deep in Paul and Jude and it paid off. In 2003 they secured a handful of tops (crowns) from a neighbor and the dream became reality. Today they have over 380,000 Kauaʻi Sugarloaf Pineapple plants in the ground. Since edible pineapple does not produce seeds it must be grown from propagation material - the top of the fruit or crown, a slip, or a sucker. Each takes 18-24 months to produce 1 pineapple and if you are lucky the fruiting plant awards you with a couple of slips and a sucker or two. It doesn't take much to figure that from one plant after two years you may have 2-3 new plantings, wait another 2 years and those plantings might each produce a couple more slips and suckers if everything goes right. Do the math and it’s easy to see there must be some closely guarded trade secrets Paul has employed to be chief caretaker for over 380,000 Kauaʻi Sugarloaf plants. Trade secrets aside, if you meet Jude you will be quick to believe she could probably grow pineapple via positive loving thought. Their philosophy is deeply rooted in personal dedicated relationships with their crops. They eat, sleep and drink farming, a soft symphony of how to improve their crops plays in the background of their psyches. They can’t help it. Paul’s fruit science background, decades of hands on experience growing Sugarloaf and Jude’s tender loving care have partnered with the rich red volcanic soils of the sunny Moloa’a peninsula. Together they grow the best Sugarloaf Pineapple in the world. Compare their crops with others and you will be quick to acknowledge this combination works. In fact, conversations about this sweet, low acid, white pineapple are heard well beyond the boundaries of Hawaii, and will often include mention of Jude, she’s got quite a following. Reports about the ‘pineapple lady, Jude’ at farmers markets and her contagious love of Sugarloaf are sure to include that the generous samples she is quick to pass out are without a doubt the best tasting pineapple ever! But Jude is quick to give the true credit to her husband Paul and his hard work. Labor of love for sure, but daily chores include much more than planting and fertilizing to grow these rare pineapples we have been blessed to call Kauaʻi Sugarloaf Pineapple.Links: