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Bananas and other tropical fruit growing in Ontario, Canada

One banana plant turned into a successful farming operation – in a place where no tropical fruit should technically flourish. Thirteen years ago, Terry Brake was in a serious car accident and couldn’t return to work as a Mechanical Engineer. His doctor gave him a Get Well Soon present – a banana plant. Today, alongside Laurie Macpherson who operates the farming operation under the Facebook name of Canada Banana Farms in a hoophouse near Auburn, Ontario. They’re producing Pink Lady Guava, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Avocados, Papayas and Coconut each year as well as various vegetables. Produce is available for purchase on site. 

To the major chagrin of North Huron's municipal government, crops are flourishing. Local grocery stores weren’t happy about having tropical produce available in Canada. There was definitely “a bit of bad blood,” he says. “They don’t want us here.” Someone else does, which is why they’re considering relocation. There are three other farming operations that have approached them on how they could be successful growing the same products, one in Ontario, one in Quebec and another in Alberta. 

Recently they’ve have sold their produce on a larger scale for distribution in the Toronto area. “The more people that can grow the better off we are,” he says. If every province had 5-10 growers the province could enjoy its own local tropical produce. The challenge is being able to encourage other young people to carry out this type of farming operation. 

Crops are doing very well. “We have excellent results with our bananas and papayas,” says Brake. They also grow some pink lady guava. “The grocery stores don’t even carry it. It’s a good market for us.” They’re still able to profit but they also ensure that prices aren’t astronomical. “We’re usually cheaper than the grocery store and people like that.” 

They do their own grafting, so other commodities will likely be introduced. Right now they have five avocados, which should produce next year and they’ve also started passion fruit, which should begin producing by next spring. Dragon fruit is also on the docket. Brake says they used to grow coconut but they lost it a few years ago because of a deep chill, which ruined the plants. They’ve modified the program and are introducing a dwarf coconut that’s cold hearty. Mangoes also grow there in winter, costing about $2.00 each. The farming operation doesn’t exist on the almighty dollar. “We’re about providing low cost food but quality food.” 

For more information: 
Terry Brake/Laurie Macpherson 
Canada Banana Farms 

Publication date: 7/14/2017
Author: Rebecca D Dumais
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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