Download PDF Version: GF History.pdf [219.33kB]
Henry Nicholas Greenwell was born in England in 1826. He graduated from Sandhurst and spent time in Ireland as an officer in the British Army. He sold his military commission after fulfilling his one-year obligation to the Royal Crown when he was 23 years old and left for Australia to make a new start. He purchased a sheep station to go into the wool business. However prices and a drought didn’t keep him there long. Using the capital from this business he went on to form a partnership with a ship captain in 1849 in order travel to San Francisco with a shipload of tools and supplies that could be sold to miners during the Gold Rush.
Upon arrival to San Francisco Bay, the crew deserted and left Henry and his partner to unload their merchandise. Henry hurt himself badly in the process. His partner advised him to go to Honolulu where the best doctors were located in the Pacific as they served Hawaiian royalty. Upon his recovery, he returned to San Francisco only to find his partner has taken off with the profits. Henry returned to Honolulu where he was employed on Fort Street with an English import/export company. They sent him to Kona to open a store there.
Henry Nicholas Greenwell arrived in the Kona District in the early 1850’s where luck was about to change for this adventurer and entrepreneur. King Kamehameha III had begun selling land to foreigners in 1851. Greenwell purchased a parcel and began farming oranges on 90 acres of land for resale to the whaling ships to prevent scurvy.
When the orange crop suffered blight 15 years later, Greenwell left for a trip around the world, stopping in the West Indies in Montserrat where he met a British lime plantation’s daughter, Elizabeth Caroline, whom he married in 1868. Greenwell and his wife went on to raise 10 children.
Coming home to the Kona District, the Greenwell’s made their home at Kalukalu in Kealakekua. Henry turned to the coffee business and for several years he bought and marketed the coffee grown in Kona by Hawaiians. He gradually acquired extensive land holdings also engaging in the cattle and sheep business. For many years until his death in 1891, Henry Nicholas Greenwell devoted himself to the improvement of the Kona District. He served as postmaster, store owner, paymaster for school teachers and tax collector of the port of Kealakekua.
Greenwell Farms is situated on prime land at an elevation of 1,500 feet adjacent to the ancestral home of Henry and Elizabeth, which is now occupied by the Kona Historical Museum.
Henry Greenwell is also remembered for launching Kona coffee into the European market in the 1870’s. In 1873, while participating at the World’s Fair in Vienna he was awarded a ‘Recognition Diploma’ for his Kona Coffee by the President of the Kaiser’s Exposition.
The family tradition continues today, over 150 years later, with fourth-generation farmers Tom and Jennifer Greenwell fourth generation farmers, who continue to maintain the tradition of high quality Kona coffee at Greenwell Farms. Greenwell Farms is a working Kona coffee farming and processing company. Greenwell Farms offers tours of its coffee farm and processing facilities highlighting the century old Arabica coffee trees and the various tasks involved in hand-picking and processing of the coffee cherry. Tours culminate at the Greenwell Farms Store where visitors can sample various roasts and Kona coffee products are available.