EARTH University has 3,000 acres of bananas grown sustainably and traditionally. For more than fifteen years EARTH’s students and staff have been experimenting with organic techniques on the banana farm located on the EARTH campus. The banana farms are located on the campuses in Guacimo and Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
EARTH’s sustainable methods provide a positive model in the banana industry. EARTH does not use herbicides, but instead hand picks weeds. EARTH’s use of organic post-harvest fungicide and organic fertilizers lowers the impact on the environment. The organic waste from bananas is recycled into compost or to make banana paper.
Bananas start their journey by being loaded onto this transportation mechanism. The bananas really ride in style from the field to the processing plant! Its like a long suspended cable. At the front of the procession, is a man suspended in his control cart which also is connected to the conveyor system. When the bananas come to a road, the driver causes the metal track to lower for the bananas to float across.
Bananas are sorted and cleaned before being packaged. Trained staff do this job and students come to learn about the process. The bananas from picking to eating last 22 days before they become too ripe. Experience and skill are necessary to ensure bananas arrive in time with the highest quality possible.
EARTH's organic bananas are sold at Whole Foods Market. It was a great honor for me to be allowed a tour in their banana production facility at EARTH.
EARTH recycles organic waste from the University’s banana production and Integrated Farm to create a mixture called Bokashi. Bokashi is similar to compost and is created with organic waste, sawdust, and effective microorganisms. These effective microorganisms help to break down the food waste to turn it into nutrient-rich organic compost. The compost is created in only a month and then can be used as an organic fertilizer for use in gardens and around the farm at EARTH.
Banana Paper Produced at EARTH
EARTH developed a system to recycle banana and paper waste into a valuable new product, banana paper. The banana paper is made out of banana stems and outdated textbooks. Each ton of banana paper made saves between 17 and 20 trees and saves over three cubit yards of landfill space. The banana paper process also creates much less air and water pollution than with the virgin paper process.
The texture of the paper is very unique. I had a clear conscience when we purchased our banana paper at EARTH because I knew no trees had been cut to make the beautiful paper. The variety of products made with the paper included journals, notebooks, stationary, cards, and even business cards. The products sold support scholarships, research, and university operations at EARTH. I have recently seen banana paper sold at our local Target in Florida which had been made in Costa Rica. My family was excited when we saw it because we knew the inside story of where and how it had been produced!
To see a video of EARTH’s banana production and banana paper project visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT-zn6aiqhU
Father’s Day 2010 Video
In honor of Father’s day, I self choreographed this ballet to Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Cinderella”.