Mo’ Bamboo, Mo’ Betta’

Chungii bamboo

By Brian and Monica Arnett (pictured with son Tobias)
Owners Bamboo Nursery

Tell us about your business.

Brian Arnett: We grow a variety of non-invasive bamboo species from around the world, and have been leasing this land in Kapaa for about three months. As far as the plants go, we work with Quindembo Bamboo Nursery on the Big Island. We’re a satellite of them. They are the original people who brought all of the non-invasive, clumping varieties of bamboo to Hawaii.

What do people use bamboo for?

Monica Arnett: Most people use it for ornamental reasons, for aesthetic beauty. But bamboo is actually a completely sustainable product – you can use it for anything. We even have edible varieties. In Asia, bamboo is a staple – the uses are prolific. Anything you can make with plastic and metal you can do with bamboo. It’s actually as strong as steel.

Brian: In fact, the first fighter jet ever made was built with bamboo as reinforcement for the wings before they came out with the high-tensile strength steels.

Monica: Many people also like to use it as a privacy hedge. In other words, it acts as a natural fence. It is less expensive to plant a bamboo fence, it grows fast and is visually more appealing.

Why should people use bamboo?

Monica: Timber is one of the most important reasons why people should grow bamboo. Bamboo grows faster than some old-growth trees, the ones that they use for building. Bamboo can replace that, and that’s important because we’re deforesting rapidly.

Brian: With bamboo, every year you have another crop, unlike an old-growth tree – when you cut it down, it takes 40 years to grow. Bamboo is so prolific, it’ll grow and you have a continual resource year-round.

Who are your mentors?

Brian: Susan Ruskin and Peter Berg of Quindembo Bamboo Nursery. We learned a lot from them and went back to the beginning of how it all started. I like to learn hands-on and like to learn from people who have been doing it for a while

Monica: Once you start to learn about bamboo it becomes like a passion, and we were lucky to have mentors like Peter and Susan who did persevere and bring these bamboos here for the love of bamboo and the environment.

Brian: One of their hopes and goals was to bring bamboo to Hawaii for the purpose of forestation and a reusable product that the islands could use as a resource for sustainability. It was good to learn from people who want the same thing, not just to sell it to make money. Bamboo has a history and a purpose and has been used around the world for centuries as a staple.

What motivates you to get up and go to work?

Brian: I just love bamboo, I think it’s something the world needs.

Monica: I’ve always loved plants, and when I started working with bamboo, I wanted to share the good news with everyone. I really believe in it, and it feels good to do something that’s going to help people and the environment.

Brian: It’s a product that gives back. I’ve been building houses since I was a kid. It’s hard to go to work day-in-and-day-out and use toxic woods and chemicals, burning through endless forest. It’s really unfulfilling. For me, I want to give back something to the earth and, for me, this nursery is a way to give back. It’s exciting to be a part of what could possibly be a new resource in Hawaii.

What do you find rewarding about this business?

Brian: Knowing that a plant’s going in the ground somewhere.

Monica: And seeing people come here who are on fire for bamboo.

Brian: And they come back and talk about it and love it and want another one.

Monica: It’s like they’re seeing a piece of art. Sometimes you find something new in it, you admire it. To see that instantaneous reaction is rewarding.

Do you have a motto or philosophy for doing business?

Monica: To provide what we believe to be a sustainable product to the community.

Brian: Mo’bamboo, mo’ betta’.

Visit bamboonursery.com or call 808-885-4968 for more information.

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