Gulf Coast Recovery – How Bamboo Can Revive the Delta

While the effects of Hurricane Katrina are still ravaging the Gulf Coast and also the blow in the BP oil spill now to be dealt with, it’s high time that a sustainable and long-term path to recovery begin for the US Delta area. And that path may well well be paved with bamboo stalks.

And even though the US loves their bamboo merchandise, there’s still no primary source for bamboo production in the USA. Combine that consumer want with a desperate need in the Gulf Coast states for a brand new kind of economic reconstruction and you’ve a win-win situation for farmers and shoppers alike.

Jackie Heinricher of Booshoot Gardens LLC saw this winning combination and began working with officials in the Mississippi Delta to bring together farmers, buyers, processors and businesses that could sell bamboo products. And though her plans are grand, her ideas began quite simply with the flowering of her Chilean bamboo.

Heinricher teamed up with Randy Burr, the man who engineered the commercial propagation of Boston ferns in 1973. Burr took on the challenge of trying to clone bamboo. Prior to tissue culture, it wasn’t feasible to farm bamboo on a large-scale simply because of the lack of seeds or division to plant. Given their reputation for invasiveness, most would think they would grow quickly but in reality there is a definite lack of seeds as most only flower every 60 to 120 years and propagation by division is labor intensive and good results aren’t guaranteed.

But following four years of trial and error, Burr developed the correct formula. The pair were now prepared to develop bamboo on a commercial scale in the united states. So where to begin?

Though most would think that this sort of alternative farming is best left to the Pacific Northwest, it may be the American South that offers the best climate and soil conditions for developing bamboo. Long left untilled, the soil in the South is ready for a brand new crop after inexpensive cotton imported from Africa and Asia made domestic production come to a halt. company reviews

Heinricher, in a recent tour through Alabama, spoke with farmers, community leaders and university officials about the advantages of growing bamboo in their region. First and foremost, it would produce jobs in one of the poorest regions in the united states. Secondly, it would fulfill a large need in America as the popularity of bamboo grows. (Heinricher has already talked with companies ranging from Target to M3 and event Starbucks who are looking to use bamboo for its cups). Third, the developing of bamboo domestically would not only encourage additional use of an environmentally-friendly material but it would also revive the Southern United States ecologically. While cotton-growing has devastating environmental effects, bamboo is a plant that can be harvested by cutting down instead of pulling up roots and it also requires no pesticides or fertilizers to develop, thus saving the groundwater from feasible contamination.

And in a region that is still water-logged from Hurricane Katrina and lacking a natural barrier against the ever-growing BP oil spill, bamboo can help steady up the shores and provide some protection from erosion and flooding.

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