Growing Bamboo? It’s certainly not a foreign concept for a domestic crop. Beyond the beauty of a bamboo garden, there are plenty of reasons to grow bamboo on a larger scale, be it for research of commercial use. Jackie Heinricher of Booshoots Garden LLC continues her work in the Delta to integrate bamboo as the next cash crop in that devastated region.
And why not? Not only will it provide a domestic source of a raw material to feed America’s growing appetite for bamboo products from bamboo clothing to bamboo sheets, but it will also protect our soil from the conventional farming methods used to grow traditional crops here in the United States. Those methods can require heavy equipment, deforestation, large-scale irrigation projects and heavy chemical use whereas the bamboo plant is harvested by cutting at the stem, regenerates quickly and requires no intensive irrigation or chemicals.
So while we wait with bated breath for investors to make our commercial bamboo farm dreams a reality, one woman from Teton Valley, Utah is taking matters into her own hands. According to an interview with the Teton Valley News, Kate Reynolds Yaskot is hoping to give her local economy a boost far from the Delta in the mountains of Idaho.
Reynolds Yaskot originally researched bamboo as a houseplant option until she realized the plant’s advantages beyond decorative.
“Bamboo grows faster and converts more carbon dioxide to oxygen than any other plant; it’s stronger than steel — bamboo structures have survived earthquakes when other buildings collapsed — and it can be harvested every three to seven years, unlike trees, which take many years to grow back,” she said.
Reynolds Yaskot, recognizing the value of bamboo for local farmers, approached several of them to see if they would be interested in taking a leap of faith on this alternative crop. Their biggest concern? How would a plant so heavily associated with the tropics survive a Utah winter?
This is a common misconception of the bamboo plant but with over 1000 species of bamboo in 90 genera, there are as many types of bamboo as there are climate regions. And surprisingly, this plant so associated with steamy weather has species that thrive just as easily in winter wonderlands.
So to show the hardiness of the bamboo plants and put the farmer’s minds at ease, Reynolds Yaskot transplanted two of her bamboo plants from her bathtub garden (seriously!) and placed them in her front yard last fall to see how they weathered the cold temperatures, snow and ice.
And the hardy plants survived! Now Reynolds Yaskot is looking into business plans and viable growing options to take advantage of the growing, environmentally-friendly trend of purchasing sustainable products. And what can is more sustainable than a plant that can regenerate to full maturity within 4 years of harvest and can be used for everything from baby blankets to bridges??
Hopefully other intrepid gardeners, entrepreneurs and investors will follow her lead and make the commitment to supporting local economies and sustainable products through bamboo farming.