Nourishing lives: The story of EARTH bananas

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: July 30th, 2020

In the late 1980s, when EARTH University acquired the land now home to our Guácimo Campus (Limón, Costa Rica), we inherited a tired and degraded conventional banana plantation from the previous owner. We were disturbed by the effects of soil mistreatment and indifference to biodiversity. That was clearly not the way to do business.

EARTH bananas.

EARTH bananas.

In response, we challenged ourselves to overhaul commercial operations and remediate the land by pursuing two highly unusual goals:

  • People: to radically brighten the future of talented and driven youth from across the Global South, as well as dignify the lives of residents in the communities neighboring our flagship campus.
  • Planet: to research, discover, and apply ecologically sustainable best practices in agriculture – and encourage others to do the same.

Recognizing the great rewards of doing business better, we began leading an enlightened transformation within Costa Rica’s massive, pollutive, and exploitive banana industry.

According to Adrián Jiménez, EARTH’s Commercial Crops Manager, the high-quality bananas produced on our campus stand out from the bunch because they represent our unbreakable commitment to social responsibility and environmental leadership. Profits from the sale of each banana are added to our Scholarship Fund. “We know that the sale of even a single box of our bananas makes a difference,” Jiménez says. “Everything we do helps students fulfill their dream of studying at EARTH and becoming change agents.”

EARTH bananas are grown with far fewer pesticides.

EARTH bananas are grown with far fewer pesticides.

Thanks to our continuous pursuit of agricultural innovation:

  • EARTH bananas are grown with far fewer pesticides and herbicides than those at big conventional plantations.
  • organic wastes are converted into nutrient-rich compost to fertilize our next harvest.
  • complementary plants are installed in our drainage channels to reduce soil erosion and water contamination.
  • the protective plastic bags and ropes used in our field are reused again and again.
  • a 13-meter barrier has been reforested on each side of the river that crosses our farm, protecting wildlife.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, EARTH continues processing bananas while adhering to new safety protocols that ensure the well-being of the 75 local people who work in our packing plant and the 275 who work on our farms. All of them are provided with masks and other protective gear to perform their duties, and their body temperatures are recorded daily. Lunch shifts have also been established to distance eaters during mealtimes.

All the staff work following safety protocols to ensure their well-being.

All the staff work following safety protocols to ensure their well-being.

“We have implemented a series of important changes to continue our work, and we’ll make new changes, if necessary,” Jiménez said. “We invested financially to ensure the protocols are properly followed so we can safeguard our workers’ health and, at the same time, achieve our business goals.”

Despite the circumstances, EARTH bananas can be found for sale on more and more shelves. In Costa Rica, they are available at PriceSmart, Megasuper, Fresh Market, AMPM, MasxMenos, and Perimercados. In the USA, Whole Foods Market continues to proudly sell our products, and our UK distributor J N Fox & Sons recently established a partnership with Starbucks, to supply EARTH’s bananas to the global coffee chain.

There is still more to be done, and we are excited to do it. We will keep enhancing and advancing responsible farming around the globe and improving the quality of life for millions of people. That is our promise.

To learn more about how we grow the world’s most impactful banana, click here.