Norman Bezona has dedicated nearly 50 years to becoming an expert in tropical horticulture. Norman specifically remembers his first inspiration for plants at the early age of four as he worked beside his grandmother in her garden. At age fifteen, Norman set off on his first of many big adventures. He traveled alone from Portland, Oregon to Okinawa where he attended Kubasaki American High School.
The tropical setting of Okinawa set the stage for Norman’s lifelong passion for tropical horticulture and a strong desire to live in the tropics. This became a reality when he enrolled at the University of Hawaii, College of Tropical Agriculture, in 1956. He did graduate work at the University of Florida, but quickly realized that Hawaii was where his heart was. He returned with his family and began working for C Brewer Company Ltd. in the Big Island’s District of Ka’u. His work as a diversified crop horticulturist allowed him to work with macadamia, coffee, citrus, guava, avocado, and ornamentals, as well as being a part of the agricultural reforestation of Ka’u.
Inspired by his favorite childhood book, “Swiss Family Robinson”, and his favorite childhood hero, “Johnny Appleseed”, Norman has never stopped dreaming. He began acquiring forest land on the Big Island of Hawai’i in 1982. Now known as the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary, education and botanical tours are offered in cooperation with other organizations.
Norman worked in the field of tropical agriculture for more than 50 years before retiring from the University of Hawai’i as Professor Emeritus. In addition to his dedication to Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary, Norman is currently a Hawai’i Director for the International Palm Society and an Advisor to the Hawai’i Chapter of the American Bamboo Society.
Working as a consultant, Norman has visited many equatorial forest regions worldwide and continues to work with organizations on special projects around the world. He writes articles for local publications, and works with the community to support tropical forest protection.
Norman has been a tour guide for numerous eco-agricultural tours in the Hawaiian Islands as well as tours in Africa, Asia, Australia, South and Central America. At Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary Norm leads many of the tours and maintains the property grounds with the help of his family and local volunteer groups.
Event designer and chef, Voltaire is our extraordinary creator of events and cuisine. From French/Creole to Italian, Indian and all types of international flavors, he often says he was born to create and here he presents exquisite meals from simple breakfasts and lunches to multi-course gourmet dinners.
The youngest of 14 children, Voltaire refers to his earliest memories in the kitchen as “under his mother’s skirts”. As a young adult he came to New York City. In 1989, he moved to San Francisco, where he gained culinary skills as an understudy with Master Chef Ken Guerra. He ultimately handled the catering business, bar tending and event design for Ken’s restaurant, Bier Haus. Ken moved on to be the UC Berkeley Food Service Director where Voltaire continued to work with him to fine tune his expertise. From there he worked with Taste, a nationally recognized catering company with upscale and celebrity clientele, for five years. He currently owns his business, “Hawaiibean”.
Ricci Bezona has aquired extensive knowledge of Hawaii’s culture, history, horticulture and archaeology while living on the islands for most of his life. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Hawai’i with a major in Horticulture Technology, emphasis in Business, and special study in native plants in Hawai’i. In addition, he has a secondary teacher certification in Science. For over 25 years Ricci has worked in all phases of landscape design, planning, development, and maintenance; both exterior and interior; specializing in tropical and sub-tropical plants.
Currently Ricci owns his own landscape business, Bezona Botanicals, in West Hawaii. Ricci also contributes to Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary as a Horticulture Consultant and assists with landscape design and implementation. In his spare time, Ricci is an avid bottle collector with special interest in bottles from Hawai’i dating back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Diane McWhirter spent the majority of her childhood on the Big Island of Hawai’i and Oahu. Although she currently resides on the mainland with her three children, Hawai’i still feels like home. Frequent visits to the Islands, lifelong friendships, and family ties to Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary have kept her spirit of Aloha alive. She looks forward to someday moving back to Hawai’i where she and her children plan to be involved in the community.
Tim Bezona dedicates his time to miscellaneous projects on the property.
4-H, Scouts and help with special projects on a volunteer basis.