2 Valley farmers hoping to find success with bamboo farm

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Valley farm is banking on bamboo to become the cash crop of the future.

The new plantings pose a big risk but growers hope a big reward awaits in the form of a tropical paradise.

Bushy bamboo plants just went into the ground near Easton in May.

May Kue Her said, "My husband and I have been thinking about doing something different here in the Valley."

May and her husband, Simon, grow the bamboo on their ten-acre farm. They took out their tomato and vegetable crop and planted two varieties of giant bamboo.

May Kue Her explained, "When we looked at bamboo it has so many benefits. It is a new venture for us here in the valley but we have to give it a chance."

It will take two years before they can start harvesting bamboo shoots for stores and restaurants.

The Hers have contracted to grow bamboo for a Florida company called OnlyMoso.

May said, "We have a contract where they will buy everything for 10-20 years. In the next 3-5 years, when the body or culm is big enough, of course, it could be used for building materials. From flooring to clothing, utensils, furniture."

May and Simon have lived off their vegetable crop for many years, so bamboo represents a risk. But they believe it will ultimately pay off.

UC Cooperative Extension Small Farm Assistant Jacob Roberson said, "It's always exciting. People taking that leap of faith or that first step and just always hoping more farmers will use this as an example."

The drought resulted in the Hers needing to dig a new well.

They said bamboo doesn't need as much water as many other crops.

May continued, "About 13-17 gallons versus the other crops, we're looking at 60-70 gallons."

They're just pretty plants for now.

Simon Her said friends were surprised to see how quickly the bamboo has grown.

"People come and visit all the time," Simon said.

May added, "You'd be amazed. We have so many stopping by and say, 'What are you guys growing?'"

The Hers hoped that will be obvious - in just a few years.
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