Asparagus: Signs of Spring
Twin Bridge Farms provides a unique crop
By Martha Cheng
What started as a moonlighting project has made Milton Agader and Al Medrano some of the most sought after farmers on Oahu. They are the main producers of island asparagus, found on many a fine-dining plate, in Alan Wong’s to DK Kodama’s restaurants.
So by the time Dole phased out all their diversified crops and Agader and Medrano’s jobs, their one acre of asparagus had turned into 40, all ready to be harvested. Medrano says at the time, he thought about jumping into another trade, as a carpenter or mechanic, but why commute an hour to town when he could stay close to home and work in Waialua’s fields where it seemed like everything was falling into place? For Agader, leaving the fields never crossed his mind. “I just like working outdoors,” he says. “We’re familiar with this land.”
. Running a farm means not only farming, but also marketing and distribution. “We have to grow quality,” Agader says. “It has to be consistent and we have to compete against the mainland products that come in.” But luckily, the asparagus sells itself. “Asparagus is so unique over here, people knock on our doors.” And against the imports, Agader says “we’re giving people better quality because it’s fresh.” Asparagus from Twin Bridge Farms arrives in stores within days of harvest.
Asparagus is so unique over here, people knock on our doors.”Because asparagus grows so fast, shooting up 5 to 6 inches a day, Twin Bridge harvests daily, 7 days a week. Currently, Twin Bridge uses conventional farming practices, but they’re looking into controlling the weeds (their greatest challenge) without using chemicals and are considering compost as a fertilizer. They’ve put aside a piece of land for organic farming, and hopefully, as they get comfortable with it, they’ll expand, just like how their asparagus patch started, from one acre to its current 65 acres.
Both Agader and Medrano are long-time farmers, and the few among many of the former sugar workers that are still farming. Says Medrano, “we’re still here. We’re still growing and we still got a lot of things to learn.”