It’s a giant grass that many Australians would be familiar with seeing, but not so familiar with eating.
When properly prepared, Bamboo is nutrient-rich, and is in fact a staple of many Asian country’s diets.
Big Heart Bamboo founder, farmer and entrepreneur Becky Dart is forging a new industry on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast—growing, cooking and preserving bamboo to eat.
“Bamboo is the world’s largest grass which is absolutely fascinating,” Becky says.
“From a time when we used to have megafauna it’s one of the remaining large species we have on the planet and one of the oldest plants in the world. It’s got very ancient DNA.
“It is highly nutritious, and has been revered as the gift of the gods in many Asian countries and it’s revered as a delicacy.”
Becky Dart is taking on the mantle of her father Durnford Dart who established one of the first bamboo farms in Australia in the 1990s.
“My Dad started this farm when I was about four years old, I did plant a few of them with my mates,” she says.
“I’ve got a photo of me planting these plants when I was four or five and now they’re 20 metres tall and going to live for another 200 years.
“The water consumption you need is negligible. It grows super fast as most people are aware. And then it’ll be bringing down the carbon while regenerating the soil.
“One of my favourite things I always say is that cats and cane toads can’t climb bamboo. That’s two species that are really messing up our wildlife in Australia but because of the shape of the bamboo cats can’t get in and around it.”
More than 240 species of bamboo still thrive on her dad’s property, at Belli Park in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
She also does tours for tourists wanting to make their way through the bamboo cathedral maze and see first hand how a bamboo farm operates.
As I drive in to meet Becky through a cathedral of thick bamboo more than ten metres high, I’m amazed at how Becky can prepare a food that by all initial appearances seems inedible, and transform it into a delicacy that is highly prized by foodies and restaurants around the country.
Becky’s innovation was recognised as a finalist in the Innovation category for the Weekly Times Coles Farmer of the Year Award 2021.
“I’ve learnt now just to be like the bamboo,” she says.
“If the wind comes just bend. Some days are for growth and other days are for putting your roots down. Bamboo has become my muse. That was a big epiphany for me a few years ago.”
Her dream now is for Big Heart Bamboo to take off in export markets and ship nationwide. She hopes to get her own kitchen on the property and combine it with a wildlife sanctuary.
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