Locally-Grown Bananas Return to SoCal After 18 Years

Is a delicious, locally-grown banana the one thing that’s been missing from your life? Well, cry no more. After an 18-year-absence, Southern California-grown bananas have returned to the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

The delectable fruit comes courtesy of new farmer Andy Sheaffer of Vista Punta Gorda ranch in Ventura County. And he’s not just growing your typical bananas. He offers a total of 8 varieties, including the Brazilian dwarf, with hints of apple; the Indian Raja Puri which packs a crunch; and the aptly named blue-hued Ice Cream banana, so-called because of its subtle vanilla tones.

Local banana connoisseurs have been devoid of such regional products since the 1990s when Seaside Banana Gardens closed up shop. The plantation, which supplied several markets in Los Angeles, succumbed to a landslide flood in 1995, never to be heard from again.

Sheaffer took control of part of the old Seaside Banana Gardens property in 2008 and began picking up where the previous owner left off. Now it’s time for Angelenos to reap the fruits of that labor.

“You can grow bananas almost anywhere as long as it doesn’t freeze,” said Sheaffer. “But to get it to produce fruit regularly and thrive — that’s the big challenge in our climate.”

Evidently, Sheaffer has met that challenge.

Shoppers who wish to get in on the local banana experience should head to the Downtown or Main Street markets held Wednesday and Sunday respectively. The bananas are selling there for $4 per pound or $7 for two pounds. Diners of local restaurants like Providence, Mélisse, Cassia and the Rustic Canyon family of restaurants may also spot the local fare on their menus soon.

Read more about Vista Punta Gorda bananas here.

Image Credit: Flickr User design-dog, https://flic.kr/p/2Upbxgvia (CC BY 2.0)