It is illegal to ship any sand, soil, rocks or lava out of the State of Hawaii without it being inspected and approved. For more information, contact the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Agriculture, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS).
FUKU-BONSAI'S UNIQUE SITUATION
- Fuku-Bonsai is the oldest Hawaii certified export nursery since 1973. We pioneered the use of volcanic pumice as part of a "non-soil media" that is similar in concept to the University of California's Non-Soil Mix (known in the industry as a "UC Mix"). Most potting soils contains a mixture of three items: clay, aggregate, and organic matter. A non-soil media does not contain any clay soil. All certified nurseries must use materials that have been approved, including the original source point quarry, how the material is transported, and how the materials are stored.
Since 1973, we have been shipping our True Indoor Bonsai to all parts of the United States. Kurtistown gets on average about 175 inches of rain each year! This makes it an ideal place to produce our specialty plants as during most months, we do not have to water our certified plants which are grown from seeds or cuttings on benches in non-soil media. We are inspected twice per year. The potting mix that we designed contains an extraordinary amount of air spaces and is very light. Such a mix is needed in our rainy climate and this also is a factor in our bonsai being the most successful gift bonsai for anyone who can grow houseplants.
As requested by our customers, we began to design workshop packages and planned to ship our non-soil media to customers who did not have a comparable fast-draining potting media. But we found that it would be technically illegal! Our Hawaii State nursery certification allows us to ship "plants grown under the certification program and in the approved non-soil media." But it does not allow us to ship the media alone if a plant is not growing in it!
Somehow we ended up going from Hawaii Department of Agriculture jurisdiction into USDA jurisdiction. Because the two governmental agencies could not come to a formal agreement, it was necessary for us to meet all USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) requirements. It turned out that they had higher more stringent requirements!
We obtained approval in two steps. The volcanic pumice that is used in both the nursery and Micro-Lobster operations is screened and the sizes mixed to our specifications at the quarry, loaded on large 30+ cubic yard tractor-trailers, and hauled to Fuku-Bonsai. It is unloaded into a cleaned sterilized concrete and metal holding bin. USDA-APHIS requires that they be notified prior to us ordering a load. They will come to the nursery to inspect the condition of the storage bin, go down to the quarry to check the material before it is loaded, and observe the loading process.
The premium "high-velocity pumice ejecta" makes up less than 1% of the quarry material and must be hand selected. Once the quarry site was approved, USDA-APHIS allowed us to send our crews to the quarry to hand select pieces that are stored on the nursery benches to prevent contamination and subject to inspection at any time.
|An inspection at the volcanic pumice quarry.|
|Fuku-Bonsai's Limited Media Permit stamp.|
Creating a viable, exportable Micro-Lobster breeding tank has been a complicated uphill effort! From the very beginning, we stated our intention to be a commercial operation committed to meet all governmental regulations. Within each Micro-Lobster tank, there are numerous complex components that must meet governmental, biological, aesthetic, and economic standards. The two types of volcanic lava that we use are ideal for us. But to get them cleared required a huge amount of effort and goodwill.
We appreciate the goodwill and assistance of the USDA-APHIS staff stationed in Hilo. Having worked with them since 1973 in shipping True Indoor Bonsai to Canada, Europe, and Japan, they've come to know and trust us. But although there is courtesy and respect, each and every clause in the Compliance Agreement is followed to the letter. Even though Fuku-Bonsai was the only company requesting it, they put together a complete regulatory program that was approved in Washington D.C.
Fuku-Bonsai is the only company in the State of Hawaii who has a USDA-APHIS Limited Media Permit! No commercial company can collect, utilize and sell coral, beach sand, and "ocean live rock." This would seem to make creation of Micro-Lobster tanks for export an impossible goal. But we obtained regulatory approval for volcanic products, created aesthetically exciting aquascapes, and learned to create bacterial innoculated habitats that make possible our sustainable breeding colonies!
*** Continue to Export to Foreign Countries