OUR DRAGON FRUIT LOVE STORY
ABOUT THE FARM
Nestled at 2,800 feet on Mauna Loa Volcano of the Big Island, Tai Shan is a boutique farm specializing in farm owned beehives and dragon fruit in white, pink and red varieties. Tai Shan Farms produces dragon fruit using only organic and bee-friendly protocols.
Dragon fruit require pollination in order to set fruit. Since Tai Shan has over 1200 cacti, bees are kept on the farm to do the pollenating. The beehives are kept in the farm field where the bees concentrate on producing rare dragon fruit blossom honey, harvested only twice a year. An ohi’a forest surrounds the field and when the ohi’a are in bloom, the bees produce a mix of delicate, sweet lehua blossom and dragon fruit blossom honey. When the ohi’a are not in bloom, the bees forage between mountain wildflowers and Tai Shan’s flower gardens of hibiscus, angel trumpets, plumbago and bromeliad blooms producing a darker, richer more robust honey with notes of caramel.
Dragon fruit is a cactus of the night-blooming cereus family. Due to the higher elevation, the blooms typically open around 6 pm and close the next day around 10 am giving the bees ample daylight hours to do their work. The bees love the pure, sweet nectar from these golden blooms and the honey they make tastes as delicate, light and as golden as the color of the blooms with the subtle sweet taste of the dragon fruit blossom.
Dragon fruit is a unique looking fruit with flesh colors ranging from white to a dark magenta and a mild melon flavor with a multitude of health benefits. Tai Shan uses it in recipes to create value added products such as hot sauces, salad dressings, drink mixes, and baked goods. Of course, honey is collected and used in many of the products. Honey is also jarred and offered along with the other products.
Kevin Begemann bought Tai Shan Farms at a farmer’s market. He was visiting the island and was looking for a new adventure. He didn’t know he wanted to be a farmer until he did. He knew it when he was captivated by the magical Tai Shan and the endless possibilities he saw. He couldn’t stop thinking about it, even dreaming about it and did everything he could to make his dreams come true. He sold everything he had on the mainland and crossed the ocean with a few possessions and his dogs, Max and Sooki.
Two years later, he met Esther Zamora who also did not know she wanted to be a farmer until she did. She knew it when she met Kevin and the farm. She fell in love with Kevin, the farm and the bees. Kevin manages the field and markets and Esther is the main beekeeper and office manager. Together they make all the farm products and enjoy working together in the commercial kitchen especially when testing out new recipes for future production. Making Tai Shan products is a labor of love for Kevin and Esther. Their common goal is to make good food to “feed the people”. It truly makes them happy to give people something good to eat. They have always wanted to do this on a grand scale and Tai Shan is the perfect vehicle for this to be accomplished.
Kevin was partner to a pop up restaurant on the mainland and is thrilled to have a commercial kitchen. He is a masterful cook and took all the recipes he received in the purchase of the farm and made them his own, turning them from good to fabulous. Many local companies are now offering Tai Shan’s delicious drink mixes and carry their hot sauces, honeys and jams.
Tai Shan Farms products are available online here and at local farmers markets on the Big Island.