Camp Homelani plants bananas

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Campers will soon tend to and enjoy fresh produce.

By Rob Noland –

BananaFarming

Each plant produces only one hand, or bunch, of bananas in its lifetime. Image taken by Steven Dempsey

Revolution Hawaii recently launched a banana farming initiative at The Salvation Army’s Camp Homelani to educate and minister to its young adult campers.

Camp Homelani groundskeeper Steven Dempsey and a crew from Revolution Hawaii began preparing a large plot of ground in early 2016 to plant the camp’s first banana patch.

After they cleared weeds and tilled the soil, they began digging trenches and installing pipes. Finally, they planted 13 small apple banana plants in the ground.

Dempsey said it will take about a year before campers get to taste the first crop. Because each plant produces only one hand, or bunch, of bananas in its lifetime, each tree will be cut down after it has given its fruit, allowing new ones to grow in its place. The hope is that once the plants begin to reproduce, the bananas will be available for harvest year-round.

Camp Homelani chef David Lucas, who is responsible for purchasing food and preparing meals at the camp, said he believes that by going directly from the farm to the table, the camp will be able to save money and offer campers a nutritious option.

“We may even be able to earn income by selling Homelani bananas at the local farmers market,” Lucas said.

Early in 2016, Camp Homelani planted the first 13 banana plants. Taken by Rob Noland

Early in 2016, Camp Homelani planted the first 13 banana plants. Image taken by Rob Noland

Apple bananas are the first step in Camp Homelani’s quest for self-sustainability. Already, two different strains of 25 tiny papaya trees have sprouted from seeds Dempsey purchased from the University of Hawaii seed lab. The trees will soon be transplanted from the starter tray to individual pots. Once they are a foot tall, they will join the banana plants in the Homelani garden.

The staff plans to grow everything from pineapple to passion fruit, chili peppers and peas, along with herbs and coffee, illustrating to campers through tending and harvesting the creative and powerful God who loves each living thing.

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