It’s bananas: The very different greenhouse producing tropical fruit in Norfolk County

“My friends think I’m nuts, but that’s just normal,” David laughed. “I’ve always tried something different. I don’t usually go down the same path everybody else does.”

David’s divergent detour toward Canadian greenhouse production of not just bananas, but five tropical fruits (banana, papaya, guava, passion and dragon) began indirectly through a desire to eat healthier following a battle with Stage 4 colon cancer in 2010. Subsequent discussions with suppliers during involvement in school food programs opened David’s eyes to how some tropical fruit may spend weeks in transportation prior to consumption. There’s something we can do here,” he recalled thinking. “Something we can change.”

David’s real estate agent responded with an opportunity to purchase an existing greenhouse banana operation near Blyth in Huron County. This introduction led to the development of a subsequent production facility inside an acre of greenhouse space (43,000 square feet) on a farm outside of Simcoe. The project’s current status is establishing proof of concept in 4,000 square feet of that total, with the goal of ongoing incremental expansion.

Locally produced bananas are softer in consistency than those most consumers are accustomed to, with David-attributed advantages including carbon offset realized from significantly reduced transportation, herbicide and pesticide-free production (they currently use organic principles, with the goal of achieving full certification), and the benefits of a naturally ripened product as the harvest timing reflects flavour and texture over considerations including shipping durability.

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