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Big Island Farm Tours
As local ingredients continue to play a more prominent role on Big Island menus, chefs and farmers are working together to support a burgeoning agritourism industry in Hawaii. Several local farms have cropped up over the past few years to make specialty items that cater to the island's gourmet restaurants. The Hawaii Island Goat Dairy produces specialty cheese; lone beekeeper Richard Spiegel of Volcano Island Honey Co. produces a rare and delicious honey now available not only in local restaurants but on the shelves of high-end stores like Neiman Marcus; and the Hamakua Heritage Farm has turned mowed-down koa forests into a safe haven for gourmet mushrooms. While a handful of farms—like Mountain Thunder, which produces 100% organic Kona coffee, and Hawaiian Vanilla Vineyards, which is cultivating vanilla from orchids growing wild on the Hamakua Coast—are open to the public and offer free tours, others have opted instead to offer limited tours through group operators. The Big Island Farm Bureau has also tried to encourage local farming and agritourism through the creation of Hawaii AgVentures, an organization that schedules farm visits (to either single or multiple farms) for interested parties www.hawaiiagventures.com.