This one-quarter project, entitled Banana Varieties and Tropical Fruit Tree Farming, is designed to expand my knowledge of bananas. For this project I will be traveling to Puerto Rico starting Week 5 and will be returning home at the end of Week 10.  I am staying at Wildane Farm, a WWOOF farm, which is run by Esther and Jimmy McFadden. This farm is home to over 30 different tropical fruit trees, and has five or six varieties of bananas on site. To learn about the anatomy, cultivation practices, and overall natural and colonial history of bananas I will be using Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Keppel and the Musalogue (a catalog of “musa” or banana germplasm written by the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain) as resources. Specific learning goals include gathering information about how things like the soil profile, water availability, climate, and other factors contribute to different banana species and the growth of tropical fruit trees. I will also be conducting tasting labs in which I observe the differences in banana varieties. From these labs I will develop a mini cooking book of recipes highlighting the best uses for each species of banana on the farm. I will document my experiences through written blog posts, photos, and videos.

Learning Objectives Activities that will help me to attain this objective What my sponsor will evaluate
Learn about the anatomy, colonial history, and cultivation practices of bananas. I will be reading the following books

  • Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel
  • Musalogue by by the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain
I will complete a blog writing summarizing the most important points from the book.
Learn about the basics of banana and tropical fruit farming. This includes analyzing ideal soil profiles, climate, and other factors that contribute to a suitable growing environment. I will be doing volunteer work 40 hours/week on a tropical fruit tree farm. Here I will be working with 5 varieities of bananas, and over 30 species of tropical fruit trees. During this time I will be assisting with planting, tending, and harvesting the trees. I also hope to take and observe a soil sample. I will document my experience with a travel journal, blog entries, and various videos.
Be able to explain and distinguish between the tastes of different varieties of bananas. I will be tasting the bananas raw and also will conduct my own tasting experiments to see how different cooking processes effect the tastes of the different bananas.

Throughout my trip I will be travelling with my host farm to various other fruit farms to observe differences in the tastes of their fruits. I will inquire and study what may contribute to these differences.

I will develop a mini cookbook with recipes highlighting the best use for each species of bananas. Additionally I will make a cooking video for my favorite recipe.

I will create a blog post documenting and comparing each of the sites we go to.