HONOLULU (KHON2) — David Sumida remembers his childhood very well.
“Oh the farm was and always will be amazing,” said Sumida.
He grew up on his family’s property, known as Sumida Farm, where the family has grown watercress for almost 100 years.
“You know it was like Disneyland for me,” said Sumida.
“The neighborhood kids would come here to swim, because before the canal was built for Pearlridge, it was this beautiful river,” explained Sumida.
Although times have changed, the business remained. Right now, Sumida Farm grows about 200 tons of watercress every year distributing the vegetable to most grocery stores statewide. It’s a family business, where Sumida still serves as operations manager.
“I decided to come back here because my dad wanted to retire,” said Sumida.
That was 40 years ago. Sumida and his brother-in-law took over the farm to keep the business in the family. Sumida previously worked as a carpenter as well as an alternative rock musician for decades, but stopped after being diagnosed with cancer. He’s in remission now, but was forced to slow down. He still spends a lot of time working on the farm, where he also still lives.
“It just gives me strength, you know, it makes me centered and focused,” said Sumida.
A few years ago, Sumida’s niece and husband stepped in to take over the farm, which just had its lease extended until 2045.
Sumida said, “It’s so much relief for me knowing that the fourth generation took over and not some outsider and it’s just a relief knowing we didn’t have to sell the farm.”
When he does have free time, Sumida likes to cook, and includes watercress in every dish. He also shares his meals on Facebook. He says he’ll continue to keep the family crop and business going, for as long as he can.
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“I’m not too old to work and actually my body might be getting older but in my mind, I’m still a young boy,” said Sumida.