Introduction to Bamboo Village Hawaii
Aloha, Please allow me to introduce you to me, Leimana Pelton, and my 20 year long dream manifesting as; Bamboo Village Hawaii (BVH). We live in a place where nature reestablishes its domain every day. Her fiery essence creates, even now, the land we call the “Big Island” with her two enormously proud mountains! Every day the ocean tears at the jagged coasts yet never the less our island grows. Just a few miles up slope into an 1500 year old native rainforest the quiet abounds with the orchestrated symphonies of ambient sound. The majestic Ohias, thrust deep into the blue sky sway and rustle in the rhythmic pulses of the wind now dying from invasive human practices, and the remaining varieties of resident birds sing sweet accompaniment (recently the invasive Coqui frog has dominated the night sounds thanks to folks who dumped their trash along our forest road. And now amongst this, the feathery tops of Guadua, Hirose, Latifloris, the Indo blacks, among other species of select non invasive tropical clumping bamboo swishing back and forth. This is where the bamboo village is growing. We are nestled deep in this rainforest near the coastal area of Kalapana where lava flows recently consumed the town leaving a space for new beginnings.
This is the Lower Puna district of the Big Island of Hawaii; quiet, slow paced,, mostly zoned for agriculture with pockets of self- sufficient lifestyles both traditional and permaculture amongst the sparse and somewhat deviant local population. This situation gives us natural beauty and the economic designation of “Federal Enterprise Zone” qualifying us for federal and state grant programs. Our intention is to implement the “Bamboo Way” in this unique setting, providing the facilities and expertise to teach practical cutting edge and traditional bamboo construction skills in the midst of a sustainable lifestyle in nature.
Under the direction of award-winning artist, designer, and bamboo expert Leimana Pelton, BVH was formed in order to promote the use of bamboo as an elegant and sustainable building resource uniquely suited to Hawaii’s economic and environmental needs, supporting the pioneering efforts initiated by sustainable futuristic professionals. Mr. Pelton’s vision includes mixed timber, food tree, and bamboo farms, localized treatment plants, on-site training facilities. We also need research activities collaboration with the University of Hawaii with our eco-ethical designed living and working environments. Our global goals are synergistic with our local ones. By collaborating with local officials, architects and other community leaders, BVH hopes to bolster the Big Island’s economy by cultivating an agriculturally based alternative-building industry that embraces the original Hawaiian culture that also benefits the environment, thus providing a global model for human sustainability.
Having studied with bamboo master builders and experts from across the globe, Leimana Pelton, feels the Big Island is now ripe to launch a viable bamboo-related industry in the form of a cooperative network. During his exploration, Mr. Pelton, traveled to bamboo Mecca’s like the Philippines, Colombia and Vietnam, and Thailand, and has had the outstanding opportunity to study and build with renowned South American mostly self taught bamboo architect/ builder, Simón Vélez. Also a part time associate, Dean Johnston, Master Architect, who coordinated species specific research in architecture, entomology, engineering and agriculture sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, that will lead to breakthroughs in tissue culture propagation and to widespread acceptance of bamboo as a coded building material.
The exciting news of Mr. Johnston’s preliminary tests indicate that our preferred species of treated bamboos are bug resistant and several times stronger than conventional building materials based on strength to weight ratios. American Institute of Architect Students National Research Award 2001-2002, Went to Mr. Johnston for his Master’s Thesis research on bamboo.
Sometimes referred to as “Vegetable Steel or Miracle Grass,” bamboo is loved throughout the world because of its beauty and outstanding structural qualities. Our homegrown tropical clumping bamboos or timber bamboo are high-oxygen producing, non-invasive species. Not only do they work to reduce air pollutants and to enrich the soil with beneficial micro-organisms as they grow, but they also have the highest rates of photosynthesis of any plant, is a nutritious food source for both humans and animals, and can grow up to a foot in a single day! Growing at these phenomenal rates, a mature 100’x100’ patch of our preferred bamboos will produce enough material to frame an entire house every year. In addition because of its lightweight yet incredible strength, heavy machinery and power tools are not needed for harvesting or construction.
It is our belief that creating bamboo plantations to serve as construction resources is an important step toward environmental health and economic self-sufficiency for Hawaii. Bamboo is a beneficial giant grass that has a reputation of promoting the health of most any environment in which it grows. Unlike tree farming, harvesting bamboo does not lead to soil erosion or even the death of the plant itself; the root clumps can live for hundreds of years forming dense root systems that promote soil retention increased water table and provide shoot production for food. The propagation of different types of clumping bamboo and the creation of bamboo timber plantations would benefit the island of Hawaii tremendously, reversing decades of soil erosion that are a direct result of the sugarcane and eucalyptus industries. Sustainable development was defined by the Chairwoman of the World Commission on Environment and Development as “development that meets the needs of the current generation without undermining the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In the global villages of the future, the bamboo houses will be many! for lack of help. One person can only do so much.
We no longer expect support from private or public sources but have received recognition from county officials and related industry leaders for addressing the urgent financial concerns of our global and local communities. Grant funds were received in 2001 for initiating projects designed and developed by Pelton and several beautiful structures have already been built on the island. It is our sincere hope that this infant industry can become an important force in shaping Hawaii’s economic and aesthetic future. Leimana’s travel took him to Northern Italy where his bamboo design, construction and teaching skills were recognized by the global foundations mentioned above which support BVH goals. In 2004 Leimana organized Eco Terrestrial Concepts,LLC to demonstrate the versatility of bamboo using his invented joinery system which was conceived as a solution for bamboo construction in 1999. From 2009 to 2012 ETC built 10 structures for county of Hawaii environmental Management recycling through a grant from the EPA.
Leimana is committed and dedicated to improving the human community based on the principles of permaculture and sustainability. He is building a demonstration village for training programs. We are creating jobs and empowering people with bamboo related job skills. He is educating people, villages and communities about the environmentally friendly properties of tropical clumping bamboos and sharing the exciting news of how a bamboo industry will benefit the planet and Island of Hawaii. His goals necessitate many forms of support and community involvement is welcomed. We hope that you will share in the bamboo dream and become a part of this most incredible vision of a future industry for Hawaii and our beautiful planet Earth. Included with this introduction are some photos of different designs developed using Pelton’s proprietary building system. See the bamboo facts, and bamboo report for answers to many questions about bamboo in general.

BVH was formed under the state of Hawaii’s non-profit tax laws.