The Garden Exchange was started in 1964 by Noboru and Sachiko Ikeda. Prior to opening their own business, the Ikedas had worked for the Hilo Farmers Exchange, where Noboru assisted ginger growers in shipping their excess plants.
Born and raised in Japan, Noboru came to Hawaii in 1924 at the age of 18. He attended union boarding schools at Lahainaluna High School and later taught Japanese language school in Puna. After World War II, he worked in the sugar cane fields where he eventually became ill, the reason for his switch in employment to Hilo Farmers Exchange.
Sachiko Ikeda was a housewife before joining her husband at the Hilo Farmers Exchange in 1949. She had no prior farming experience, except for raising chickens and selling fruit while caring for her four children.
In 1964 at the age of 58, Noboru was released from the Hilo Farmers Exchange because of his age. Sachiko Ikeda, however was not fired. She later left the company after they let her husband go.
The Ikeda’s departure from Hilo Farmers Exchange was a blessing in disguise. With the financial help of Noboru’s older brother and Sachiko’s younger sister and her husband, the Ikedas had the starting capital for new venture-the Garden Exchange. Sachiko noted back in a 1993 interview, that it could not have been done without the help of family.
The company started out as small enterprise—a husband and wife team—which continued to specialize in the existing ginger shipment business. As the years passed, Noboru realized that farmers needed fertilizers and chemicals for their plants and added those items to the store inventory. Little by little the Garden Exchange grew. Coincidentally, Hilo Farmers Exchange closed down a short time later.