Ducks and Flowers

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Growing mangos and bananas.... instead of buying them?

What dakota girl would have ever guessed you could GROW bananas in your yard? Not me! I didn't even know you could make noodles ! But over the years I have learned more about that from the chicken and noodles that my husband loves to make and with white fluffy mashed potatoes. He is going to prove that miracle of comfort foods again this WED night at the early Thankgiving meal he is preparing for the folks at church.

In Dakota, we grew things like radishes, green beans, peas and lettuce or maybe strawberries. But bananas in your back yard? Who has ever heard of that?

Apparently you just go to Craig's list and there you can find info about people growing banana trees and "pups" in their front yard. Better yet, they will sell you some plants to start your very own small banana farm in your back yard!

I didn't even know what a banana tree looked like until we went to San Diego this September to see how they grow in Molly and Matt's tropical backyard~ They are a wonder of large, summer green leaves that keep producing these rolled up leaves that unroll in the sunlight.

They also produce little "pups" or new plants and you can decide which ones you want to produce and then take out the others and replant them elsewhere or do your own CRAIG's LIST so that all the energy goes to that ONE plant you want to bear fruit in two or three years!

And now in the news this week, we are urged to be wary of purchasing our bananas from the big producers of BANANAS in the tropics I see ironically. What is happening to our food again? It is being managed with greed and violence? How could they do that to simple and wonderful bright yellow bananas?

Apparently the big bananas farmers pay off terrorists to keep their big bananas farms going, and their prices they get? But who knows what the actual farmers are getting for their hard work? That is why I am for Equal Exchange now and Fair trade products at return a LIVING WAGE to the farmers who do all the work. So far I have heard of organic bananas at Open Harvest Foods in Lincoln but that is my only alternative and it is one and one half hours away?

I was just reading about this news this week and thinking I might need a banana tree next in Nebraska to go with our new mango tree. But little did I know how big banana trees get until I witnessed one! And who knows of my mango tree will keep growing in my sunroom this winter in Nebraska!

We received the mango root from CA in the mail for Father's Day as a surprise gift and it has grown... and thrived all summer in the HEAT of NEBRASKA which was mostly TROPICAL this summer! But now with the advent of fall and winter, the mango plant has had to come indoors to our sunroom and we are hoping it grows! Or at least I am since I have adopted it from the Father in the house. But do mango trees/plants get as large as Banana trees?

I am not sure how big a mango plant gets yet but BANANA trees are taller than me and they wave in the sun with their transparent bright green leaves as if they are waving to me in the wind and laughing in the sunny warm CA breezes. I might have to look one a mango plant/tree on google tomorrow! I need to learn more about mango trees I can see!

To add to my new interest in banana and mango trees, I just googled mango and Nigeria..... and articles about the mango crop in Nigeria came up. So apparently they do grow in Nigeria outdoors in the sun. I am lately interested in Nigeria too with the Nigerian orphan, Hassan who is six now, that we are hoping to raise enough money to support for next year in Jalingo, Nigeria.

We hope to raise $1400 for his books, clothes, housing, food for one whole year! And his new HOME is more than a bargain as he finally has a loving community around him again even thought he has lost his parents who died of AIDS and his twin brother who died of Malaria at such an early age and now he is six after a year in the new United Methodist orphanage built by the Nebraska and Iowa Conferences.

He came to the new UMC Nigerian orphange after living with his grandmother who was probably trying to keep him alive the best she could but who knows her age or health status and he was malnourished when he was found. He was very shy to play with the others at first and what a trauma for a young child to go through. His grandmother might not have had mango trees or banana trees in her back yard or a sunroom or food resources. I wonder what has happened to her now and if she can visit him?

So hopefully we can all try --- as Thanksgiving approaches --- to appreciate those homegrown foods that nourish us from our gardens and food stores with the canned sweet potatoes, cranberries, turkey, stuffing,mangos and other foods we enjoy. And yet somewhere folks are paying off terrorists to keep growing bright yellow bananas to get the prices they want for these bananas. And yet bright yellow bananas seem so harmless as do mangos or plants.

So I hope that those large green leaves keep growing in CA and producing bananas in a year or two in the tropical backyard..... and that our mango trees keep growing in NE so we can see what a real mango plant or tree looks like. We also want to see how high of a ceiling we might need in winter. We hope to keep learning appreciate the foods we can grow and others can grow....... and foods we enjoy like turkeys we can find this Thanksgiving that run free on the range if they are the lucky ones.

And thanks for encouraging us to learn about bananas from the tropics and mangos from Africa, Molly, and for all the ways we can learn from growing things in our lives.

And we now realize just how great fruits are even if we only have apples and strawberries in Nebraska in comparison. The strawberry plants here in my yard are getting cold now as they nearly freeze each night. We are doing our yearly ritual of deciding to bring in some of our plants, and our old timey yard chairs as we start to prepare for the winter snows and mangos --- bananas in our dreams.

We hope the bananas keep growing with their bright sunny skins and their large green floating leaves whereever and whenever possible. We hope someday again they can all grow in freedom and warm tropical sunlight without paying off terrorists to do so..... which seems counter to the teachings of the marvels of life and the fruits of nature.... or even the miracle of a mango plant growing in Nebraska and in Nigeria at the same time.

We might have to have a mango Christmas tree this year with lights around the pot or think about Hassan living in Jalingo, Nigeria and his new family and a place to call home where he can grow. And we might have to wonder if those banana trees in CA in the backyard are unrolling their leaves to the sun with the music of Jingle bells in the hood. Now if we only has some monkeys, pineapple juice or fresh mangos.... maybe at the market on 4th street from Mexico!

And the squirrels seem to have eaten some of the great orange Halloween pumpkins in Grand Island I noticed. So what is that all about? Time to once celebrate all fruits, plants, animals and creatures, trees and growing things in our lives! It is time to give our thanks for all living things and creation this November wherever we live and we hope that more people will get a living wage for their hard work on farms worldwide! Go Equal Exchange and Fairtrade!

We just announced converting all our of our coffeemaking and coffeedrinking to Equal Exchange at our church today after one year of making the transition. We now sell EE products every second Sunday of the month thanks to Susan and the UMW that gave her the loan to order $500 of products in the beginning.

It just takes some money to get started, some persistence, some HOPE and energy, continuing education and DVD's telling the story, some work ordering and finding baskets, change, signs, sellers and folks who like coffee, tea and chocolate....... churches who want to see that we are doing justice for others who have no voice to make a living wage and then Equal Exchange is now being SERVED and SOLD each month to help others!

Thanks Susan and Molly!