In 1938, a group of prominent East Oahu farmers assembled to discuss the pros and cons of the cooperative movement introduced at the time. With suggestions and encouragement by the late Mr. Merril K. Riley, then County Agriculture Extension Agent of the University of Hawaii, a group of 25 to 30 farmers agreed to try this venture. A board of directors was appointed, officers elected and an attorney retained to attend to all legal requirements.
By late 1939, with the acquisition of an office and warehouses, the cooperative was in business although recognition as a legal entity was not attained until two years later. In early 1941, delegates from a faltering papaya cooperative from Kailua, Oahu requested and gained acceptance into the organization as individuals following the disbandment of their papaya cooperative. Shortly thereafter, the final written approval for the cooperative was received from both the Territorial and Federal governments in September 1941. A reception was held in mid-October which announced the now legally incorporated “Koolau Farmers Cooperative, Ltd.”
As development turned the original farm lands into vast projects, a new and more modern facility was constructed in 1955 through 1956 adjacent to the old one. The business itself went through a transition from farm oriented to home and garden oriented, with a focus on supplying homes, businesses, cemeteries and governments with plants, fertilizers, pesticides, garden tools and other related items and services.
The business was constructed at two locations, the main store in Kaneohe and a branch at 1127 Kailua Road. Unfortunately, on November 11, 1982, “Hurricane Iwa” struck and causes extensive damage to the Kailua store which had by then been in operation for more than years. By pure coincidence and keen foresight of the Board of Directors, a permit had been obtained only one month prior to the occurrence to reconstruct a new facility. Thus, reconstruction proceeded immediately and the grand opening was held in mid-1993.
In 1982, the decision was made by the Board of Directors to turn this cooperative into a for profit corporation. After 4-1/2 years, a total approval from both Federal and Hawaii State governments was finally received in May 1987 to legally convert the former “Koolau Farmers Cooperative, Ltd.” into the new Koolau Farmers, Inc.”
In 2003 Koolau Farmers added a third store located at the City Square Shopping Center in Kalihi.
Today, serving thousands of customers island wide, we offer everything from seed starting supplies and fertilizers to plants, flowers and worm compost bins. Though the company has expanded, we are committed to providing exceptional personal service and high quality products to our valued customers.