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‘It’s exciting’: Sask. couple going bananas over their new crop

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A Saskatchewan couple has taken farming to new heights in their greenhouse, and they’ve had their first sweet harvest of a very unlikely tropical crop during a bitter Saskatchewan cold snap.

“It’s exciting that it’s actually flowered,” said Jessica Sopher, co-owner of Arkopia Farm and Freeze Dry.

“It was June 27, I remember the day that it went into bloom. It was really exciting,” Sopher recalled.

In the middle of winter, the farmer couple grows bananas in their solar greenhouse in the northeast of Saskatoon.

Sopher said they were not sure if their plan would work but they wanted to try and bought two plants for $150 each.

“We first bought the banana plant in 2021 and it was about two feet height up to my hip. Two years and nine months later, it has given us fruit,” she said.

Carla Shynkaruk/CTV News)

The couple tries to be as self-sufficient as possible at their farm with a small selection of animals and a greenhouse to grow all their produce.

They grow most of the food for their three kids and themselves.

“In minus 50 during the day with the greenhouse with no additional energy, now it got to 30 during the day. And then at nighttime, we do have a backup natural gas furnace and when I have time a little woodstove,” Dean Sopher said.

The couple said the bananas they grow have a similar texture to store-bought, but are smaller and have a unique tropical flavour.

According to Sopher, theirs are not the only bananas grown in Canada, but among the first with only three other growers they know of.

The bananas have gained popularity on YouTube as well, attracting 50,000 followers who watch videos. One notable video featured the cutting loose of the first bunch, which weighed about 18 kilograms.

“Once you have the proper design and infrastructure, the building, everything’s easy. Bananas are super easy to grow,” Dean said.

(Carla Shynkaruk/CTV News)

Sopher said it takes seven months for each plant to produce.

“We also have guavas. I’ve made jams with that. As well, we harvest lemons, oranges, and limes,” she said.

The couple has no plans to sell any of their fruit, however, Sopher said they may sell the baby plants.

The couple has a packaged fruit smoothie business. The smoothie recipe was created by the Sopher’s from freeze-dried fruit and no extra ingredients. Production is done overseas. That helps pay the bills, although they’ve gotten so good at the greenhouse process that heating it costs less than $1000 a year and they are always working to get those costs even lower.

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