Meet the farmers growing bananas in Ontario
Call them bananas, but a couple of farmers are successfully growing tropical fruit in southern Ontario.
Terry Brake and business partner Laurie Macpherson started Canada Banana Farms six years ago. They now cultivate papayas, pineapples, lemons, guavas, bananas and more.
Macpherson said the bananas get a lot of attention when they take them from the farm in Blyth, Ont., to markets in Exeter and Goderich, where they sell at four for $2.
“It’s nice to be able to eat something in the middle of winter that actually tastes like what it should taste like,” Macpherson said.
The seeds for the business were planted a decade ago, when a car accident left Brake unable to talk, walk or continue working.
A doctor gave him a banana plant to take care of as therapy. “It gave me something to get up in the mornings for,” Brake said. “It gave me purpose.”
As his hobby grew, Macpherson – who was his caretaker -- urged Brake to turn it into a business.
“At the very beginning, a lot of people thought we were crazy,” he said.
“We grow them in hoop houses,” Brake told CTV News Channel on Friday. “And we heat it with wood all winter long.”
The hoop houses – essentially long sheets of polyethylene stretched over a frame – have effectively created the jungle-like conditions these fruits need to flourish.
“It just feels like you’re in the tropics,” Brake says of his DIY greenhouses. “It’s very humid in there: about 85 to 90 per cent humidity in the winter.”
Novelty aside, Brake says his bananas are far tastier than what you can find in supermarkets.
“The bananas from the tropics are very old and shipped up from Costa Rica by boat… and then they’re sprayed to make them go yellow,” Brake says. “Ours are very sweet, creamy. Not as big, but a lot better.”
If you’d like to bite into Brake’s fruit, your best bet is to visit the weekly farmers’ markets in Exeter or Goderich, Ont. A bunch of four bananas costs $2.
The farm, which opened six years ago, currently has three hoop houses. Over the next year, Brake hopes to construct an additional 101 hoop houses on nearly two-and-a-half hectares of his farm.
“Our big goal is for other people to do this, that this could expand right across the country or the province,” Brake says.
“We don’t have to be dependent on foreign countries to supply us our food.”
With a report from CTV Kitchener