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In early 2015 Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa invested over $300,000 to convert one of their tennis courts into a hydroponic garden to grow lettuce for the resort’s restaurants and events. The 4,000 sq. ft. former tennis court, now farm, produced its first crop in January and is now consistently producing over 300 pounds per week of the seven types of lettuces grown. Named Kawailoa Farm, the moniker pays homage to the resort owner’s vision of turning dreams into reality for a sustainable future.

This model of sustainable food production, unique to the hospitality industry, is the result of collaboration between the resort and the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture. The resort sponsored internships for two students from Kauai Community College (KCC) to assist with the design, construction and initial production stages. The internships provided valuable experiential learning in both construction and operation of a local, innovative food producing method. “This is an excellent example of a way to create local jobs and improve food sustainability,” added project partner Eric Knutzen, KCC’s Executive Director of Ho`ouluwehi: the Sustainable Living Institute of Kauai. Chancellor Helen Cox agreed, expressing appreciation that the UH knowledge base was utilized in the development, “we’re honored to have partnered on this project that will provide fresh produce for people dining at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and will directly benefit the local economy by providing sustainable jobs now and for future generations.”

This project exemplifies the vision of the owner of the resort, Toichi Takenaka of Takenaka Corporation, one of the largest architecture and construction companies in Japan with history dating back to the 1600s. Takenaka’s philosophy is to “contribute to society by passing on the best works to future generations.”  The hydroponics farm furthers the resort’s sustainability initiatives. Grand Hyatt Kauai’s General Manager, Dan King, stated, “We are very pleased to partner with the UH system in realizing practical and sustainable food production on-site.”

Tours of the garden offer guests the opportunity to see and learn about the hydroponic growing process and are currently offered on Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30am. Please meet at the garden near the tennis courts on the east side of the resort.