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Laie Vanilla Company is owned and operated by Saili Levi. Originally from Samoa, Saili moved to Laie in 1991 and has been deeply connected with the community ever since. Laie is close to Saili’s heart because it’s where he grew up, met his wife, and raised his three daughters. Together, the Levi’s run the family business, Laie Vanilla Company.
Saili grew up farming on a plantation that grew ulu, taro, bananas, and tapioca. But as he grew older, he wanted to grow something more unique and different. When he came across vanilla he wanted to give it a try. For three years, Saili worked a full-time day job and was a vanilla farmer by night. Finally, in January 2020, he resigned from his day job and began working full-time on Laie Vanilla Company. Now, they have 800 vanilla orchid vines on their one-acre farm. They grow and sell vanilla beans in addition to vanilla extract made from their beans.
They grow their vanilla in a 70% shade cloth. They use peat moss, coconut husk, perlite and compost as a medium and chicken manure or worm casting as fertilizer. Saili says they try to keep it as natural as much as possible and rarely use pesticides. But when necessary they try to use safe alternatives like neem oil and other homemade remedies. If all else fails, they use bonide systemic insect control, but they are very careful with how they use it and the amount.