Who Are These People?

Quindembo Bamboo Nursery is comprised, primarily, of Peter Berg and Susan Ruskin. With a lot of help from their friends.

peter and susan at their committment ceremony

peter and susan at their committment ceremony

We began importing non-invasive bamboos through the State Quarantine to Hawaii in 1989.  Bamboo from either out of state or out of the country needs to be kept in a state run quarantine facility for one year.  Virtually all of the clumping bamboos currently available to the nursery trade in Hawaii were imported by us during these years.

In the early years, selling bamboo in Hawaii (1990) was an uphill battle.  People had had all the bad experiences of running bamboos growing rampant.  The concept of clumping, non-invasive bamboos was pretty alien, even though vulgaris vittata (the big yellow and green kind), was everywhere.  We spent a lot of time explaining how clumping bamboos grow – most of the time it seemed as if no one understood what we were saying.

We rarely have to have that conversation any more.

When we started the nursery, we thought we would be selling plants to people who wanted to build with the canes, or eat the shoots.

What happened, instead, was that because of the building boom in the islands everyone wanted what we have come to refer to as ‘neighbor abatement’.

So we have morphed into providing material for the landscape trade, ornamental specimens and fast beautiful privacy hedges.

It’s been fun, having the opportunity to create beautiful containers of landscape ready plants, but it wasn’t what we imagined we would be doing.

Closer to our hearts are reforestation and economic development programs.  A number of years ago, we donated 300 plants and a crash course on what/how to ORE, a group in Haiti that provides planting material for farmers who learn farming techniques other than slash and burn. (please see their website at www.oreworld.org/bamboo.htm).

Those original plants have turned into over 15,000 bamboo plants, distributed for reforestation,  so that people can cut bamboo to cook with and let the trees grow.  Since that time we have also sent plants to Ghana & Togo.

We would like to do more of this kind of work but we haven’t figured out how to quit our day jobs.

Quindembo is an Afro-Cuban word of Congolese origin, which roughly translates into an “amalgam”, “a mixture of many things”, kind of like, in Hawaii, chop suey.   It was used to describe the coming together of the many cultures that came to Cuba and created the music.

More than a word, it is a concept that symbolizes survival, adaptation and evolution.

Also, we figured no one else would be using the name in Hawaii.

So far so good.

Aloha, and peace without bombs……………. Susan and Peter