Bambikes and the Beauty of Bamboo

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Using bamboo for bikes, playgrounds, housing material and other products is not just a novel idea but one that makes a statement for the environment.  Bamboo is a beautiful construction material, it makes products and homes look great.   What was good news to me was that aside from its aesthetic value, bamboo is a sturdy and long-lasting material that won’t just disintegrate in time.  According to Bambike founder and president, Bryan Benitez McClelland, bamboo can compete with the strength of steel and other hardwoods.

So what makes bamboo so great?: Well according to Wikipedia and Calibamboo:

  1. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on earth. Unlike trees, individual bamboo stems emerge from the ground at their full diameter and grow to their full height in three to four months. It can be continually re-harvested every 3 years without damage to the plant system and surrounding environment.

Trees used for conventional wood takes about 30-50 years to regenerate to their full mass, with less oxygen produced, less carbon monoxide consumed, and more soil displacement when harvested —all contributing to  harmful environment effects.

  1. Bamboo is good housing material, In structural engineering tests, bamboo has shown to have higher tensile strength than many alloys of steel and higher compressive strength than many mixtures of concrete. The high silica content in bamboo fibers means the material cannot be ingested by termites, clearly the bamboo is naturally designed for strength.

 In the Philippines, the nipa hut is a  typical example of the most basic sort of housing where bamboo is used; the walls are split and woven bamboo, and bamboo slats and poles may be used as its support. In Japanese architecture, bamboo is used primarily as a supplemental and/or decorative element in buildings such as fencing, fountains, grates and gutters, largely due to the ready abundance of quality timber.

  1. Bamboo’s thick root system helps soil integrity and prevents landslide and soil erosion.
  1. Being a flexible material, bamboo can withstand earthquakes making your home a safe haven from this natural calamity.

Biking is a zero-pollution and health-friendly activity and using bamboo for its construction further highlights its environment-friendliness. ” Bamboo is one of the greenest building materials on earth, so bicycles built out of bamboo are, more or less, the greenest way to get around, “ says McClelland who realized his pro-environment vision when he was 6 years in a summer camp.  His mother further encouraged him to be active in supporting Gawad Kalinga when he arrived from the US 5 years ealier.

BAMBIKE (Bamb EcoLogical Technology Inc.) is a socio-ecological enterprise that hand-makes bamboo bicycles with fair-trade labor and sustainable building practices. Bambike builders come from Gawad Kalinga, a Philippine based community development organization for the poor, working to bring an end to poverty. The company is currently developing a bamboo nursery for reforestation and plans for a reef rehabilitation project. Bambike is a company that aims to help out people and the planet, dedicated to social and environmental stewardship. Their  goal is to do better business and to make the greenest bikes on the planet.  For more information, check out their website at http://www.bambike.com.

 

Organic Farming Advocacy: Grow, Buy, and Trade Locally

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Health, Garbage, Food Supply, Flooding,,and Livelihood..These are the main problems that can be addressed by Organic Agriculture or OA.  Organic Agriculture is an advocacy that Department of Agriculture, SOAP or Spread Organic Agriculture in the Philippines and  Costales Farms in Laguna  advocate to help in the health and economic problems of the countrry.

 Niet Arceo, speaker from the Agri-training Institute and Costales Farm owner, Ronald Costales, invited some bloggers to help in the dissemination of this advocacy.  We were invited to stay overnight for a tour and a lecture on the concept of Organic Farming and its many benefits.
“Consumers must demand Organic Agricultural products to help the industry sustain this healthy, economically-helpful and environment-friendly effort,”  states Arceo as she began the lecture on Organic Farming  for the blogger guests.  She introduced Mr, Costales, who gave the next lecture, followed by members of SOAP. Two SOAP representatives, former corporate workers-turned-farmers, shared their experience and motives in being part of this organization.
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“You don’t need to have acres of land to start a farm, even a small garden plot would do for a start,”  explained Ronald Costales, farmer, scientist, and Organic Agriculture advocate.   He shared to his blogger guests how he started his farm, the process of organic farming in his 5-hectare property, and how his children help in running the farm.  Most  of them graduated with courses related to Agriculture.  In tandem with OA, he also endorses “Zero Waste Farming.”, wherein garbage from the kitchen is utilized as fertilizer.  They did admit that a lot of effort was needed initially to get started, but it’s all worth the effort in the end.

Basically, this is I what I gathered from the lecture:

  • First it takes years to heal soil or help it regain its original nutrient-rich condition so plants will flourish.    For anyone who wants to start their own organic farm, you need to make sure your soil is healthy. If it is not, then you have to enrich it with compost, which involves mixing it with smelly, rotting garbage coming from the kitchen.  That is why it is important to segregate, so you can make use of rotting garbage as your soil enricher.
  • Another form of soil enricher is animal droppings, especially rabbit droppings that is rich in nitrogen.
  • When earthworms or other worms start to appear then that is a good sign your soil is getting rich.
  • After you plant your seedling or cuttings, then you apply organic pesticides on a regular basis.  No need to spend on fertilizers with chemicals but make your own from items you have in the kitchen, like vinegar mixed with water and a little salt.
  • You can also raise chickens, pigs, and rabbits for food as well as their droppings for fertilizer..
Mr. Costales explain that farmers share information with each other freely as they see no point in being competitive.  On the contrary, they need to work together as there are just too many mouths to feed.

The lecture was followed by a tour of the farm while the guests took photos of the beautiful Costales Farm Resort.  The guests were fed with fresh salad greens along with fish and home-raised  chicken and pork.  We were also given freshly squeezed dalandan juice and a fresh concoction of cucumber-tarragon juice.  After every meal, we had spearmint tea alternating with tarragon tea to help in our digestion.  The tea was flavourful and we would drink more than 2 pint-sized cups every time it was offered.

 Evening entertainment included a sing-along while we were being served lambanog and finger foods of veggie sticks,  krispy kangkong, French fries, and  freshly-picked arugula leaves.
We got up early the next morning to visit the nearby Taytay Falls, which included a 15 minute trek before reaching our destination.  We tried to capture all the beautiful scenery around us with our cameras before some of us took a dip into the  icy, fresh water of the falls. The whole experience was so refreshing, I feel like I got 80% healthier from inhaling  the fresh Laguna air for more than 24 hours  and from consuming  the organic meals all day..