Hold the salt: Tommy Greenwell prefers pepper

  • Linus Amor and Bernard Dores showed Tommy how to grow black pepper on hapu’u fern. (Gwen Scott via Diana Duff/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Mature pepper plants will produce multiple racemes full of pepper drupes. (tottamfarmfresh.com via Diana Duff/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • The pepper drupes that turn red are processed as white pepper. (Diana Duff/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • The younger black pepper plants at Greenwell Farm are being grown on cages filled with coco husks. (Diana Duff/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Numerous green peppercorns appear along a raceme once the flowers have been pollinated. (Diana Duff/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Kiawe posts support many of the older black pepper plants at Greenwell Farm. (Diana Duff/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Most of the black pepper plants on Greenwell Farm grow in a fenced off area below the coffee processing facility. (Diana Duff/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Tommy makes frequent visits to the black pepper plants to check for ripeness. (Gwen Scott via Diana Duff/Special to West Hawaii Today)

In a recent Hana Hou magazine article, I read about coffee farmer Tommy Greenwell’s decade-long venture into growing black pepper on his farm in Kealakekua. Being a fan of fresh-ground black pepper, I wanted to try some of his. No luck. He’s sold out for the season. I did, however, take one of his farm tours and had a chance to see his field of pepper vines, standing tall in the late afternoon sun.