It takes hard work, determination and perseverance to make L&R Farms the successful business it is today on Moloka‘i, according to founder Lynn Decoite. She and her husband, Russell, established the farm in 2001 along with their children, producing three varieties of sweet potato — Moloka‘i Purple, Moloka‘i Gold and the more universally common orange. While the purple potato variety has been a traditional part of Hawaiian luaus, it is now being served at commercial luaus on the other islands and on island style plates at many restaurants in Hawaii. The Decoites’ dream is to one day export their product throughout the United States.
For now, L&R Farms stocks up restaurants and other establishments with the Moloka‘i sweet potato that was initially developed by Lynn’s grandmother, Becky Mokuau. She started raising tubers in the early 1960s on the family homestead and passed the “secrets” to her son, George Mokuau. George’s daughter, Lynn Decoite now gets help from her husband and their children with growing the sweet potatoes in Ho’olehua in rural Moloka‘i. “We have seven employees and we all strive to make our product the best we can,” Lynn Decoite said.
Ten years ago, L&R Farms introduced their renowned Moloka‘i Sweet Potato Chips as a snack for residents and visitors to enjoy and share with family and friends. The farms’ website states that the product is prepared like regular potato chips but with select sweet potatoes grown on Moloka‘i. They describe it as having a “crisp taste of Moloka‘i found nowhere else.” Every day, Decoite said, the farm tries to keep up a tradition of satisfying customers. “We believe that people enjoy our product and we are happy to supply them with it.” She said running a farm has its challenges. “We see ourselves as a small contributor to the economy, but know that the daily struggles to keep a farming operation in business are tough in this economy.”