They’re Growing Bananas In Canada
Canada Banana Farms has a grow-it-yourself plan for tropical fruit. The Ontario company grows bananas, mangoes, papaya, citrus and other tropical fruits, as well as organic vegetables. In addition to selling at local farmers markets and at the farm, the company also supplies plants and information.
"Many tropical fruits like bananas don't need that much light," says Terry Brake, company spokesman. "If you can grow a potted pine tree in your house, you can grow bananas. They just need a temperature of about 68 degrees."
Banana Farms grow their fruit in 3 hoop houses, but Brake grew his first banana
plant in a basement room. He gave it to Laurie Macpherson and showed her how to
graft bananas and other tropical fruit. With his help, she turned his hobby
into a business.
"She bought a farm and built hoop houses and started raising them," says Brake. "At first people thought it was a joke when we sold the fruit at farmers markets, but then we put on an open house. People started driving 2 or 3 hrs. to get our fresh fruit."
Brake now serves as her spokesperson, but he credits her with creating the business. Macpherson is not only selling fresh fruit, but also the plants it grows on and the greenhouses to grow it in. She sells individual banana starters for as little as $15 for a 6-in. plant and $55 for a 3-ft. tall plant.
She currently grows 7 different varieties of banana. One variety called Big Bertha can produce as many as 300 bananas on a single plant.
notes that a single banana tree requires as little as a 3 by 3-ft. space and
can grow as high as 15 ft. However, dwarf trees grow to only 6 to 7 ft. tall.
"If you buy a tree it will bear fruit in about 8 mos. in a heated, high humidity greenhouse, or in 14 to 18 mos. in a 68-degree house," says Brake.
the banana plant sends up 3 stems, each producing clumps or "hands"
of bananas. Each stem produces from 200 to as much as 500 lbs. of fruit.
As the hands are harvested, the stems die back and suckers shoot up from the mother plant. Each sucker will also produce 3 stems.
"She would like people to grow their own," says Brake. "She sells individual plants, as well as turnkey greenhouse packages complete with furnaces, fans, ductwork and plants, everything needed."
The 24 by 50-ft. greenhouse kit is priced at $35,000 and the 30 by 96-ft. kit is priced at $85,000. In addition to the components, Macpherson provides 40 hrs. of tutoring on how to grow tropical fruit.
"We’ve shipped plants as far as Alberta and recently provided all the plants for a 300-ft. long greenhouse," says Brake. "Some are raising for their own use, and others are raising to sell at the farm gate."
Canada Banana Farms cannot ship plants to the U.S. but they’re happy to consult across the border and recently helped a Texas operator set up a tropical fruit operation. However, there are U.S. companies that sell banana plants, including www.fastgrowingtrees.com.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Canada Banana Farms, 38926 Moncrieff Rd., RR3, Blyth, Ont. Canada N0M 1H0 (ph 519 531-1905; facebook.com/canadabanana.ca).