The bamboo business is booming, part of the growing trend towards using more and more renewable, sustainable “green” materials. Sales of bamboo products passed $25 billion last year, and the popularity of bamboo shows no sign of slowing.
Why is bamboo so popular as an eco-material? Several reason. It can grow almost everywhere and thrive in many different climates, from jungle to the frozen northern climates. Bamboo increases the production of oxygen – as much as 30 percent more than most other plant species such as a hardwood forest, even though it’s not a tree, but a member of the grass family.It can grow up to two inches in a single hour. Most varieties mature in five years or less, so the harvest cycle is much shorter than that of trees, which can take decades to mature to a harvestable stage.
Bamboo can be made into almost anything, from paper to clothing to flooring. It has a tensile strength greater than steel, so it is an ideal building material. In fact, you could build your house, furnish it and fill the closets with clothing, with just bamboo-based products.
Local growers can cash in on the booming demand for bamboo as well. For growers interested in growing and harvesting a renewable crop, bamboo is idea. At the local level, there is a strong demand for both the bamboo poles, in sizes from pencil-diameter to giant 6-inch timber bamboo, used for garden art and gutters. Growers have even been successful with “U-Cut” bamboo lots, similar to traditional U-Cut Christmas tree lots. For growers who want to add value, there are dozens of basic bamboo products, from fencing to garden fountains, that can be easily fabricated from bamboo poles and sold direct to the public at craft fairs, or retailers like garden centers. To learn more about growing and marketing this remarkable plant, read Golden Harvest, which includes a list of over thirty of the best bamboo varieties for small growers.
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