Worth all the sweat and tears

EVOL Taylor says after she was born, 'Mum brought me home from hospital and put me in a banana packing case and I haven't been able to get out since'.

Since then the Korora Bay banana grower has taken her interest a big step further by turning to organic banana growing and battling for more than 15 years to achieve a successful organic growing regime for Coffs Coast bananas on her family's plantation.

"I used to cry at night thinking I was sending my father broke trying to learn," she said.

In spite of her best efforts it was not until she got help from American soil scientist Elaine Ingham that she was able to achieve her goal of healthy, vigorous organically-grown bananas on the family plantation.

She has found that a balance of mulches is the answer and this mulch in turn grows clover, which becomes a cover crop. This is mowed, creating soft green aisles through the bananas which prevent erosion.

As a side benefit, organic growing has rid the soil of the chemical residues left from earlier banana treatments and has given the land a clean bill of health for other uses.

Now she has taken her organic banana production to the final stage, processing, and is hoping to take a leap into export.

Evol Taylor and her family are turning their organic banana crop into organic dried bananas, banana jam and chutney with the jam using a recipe from Ms Taylor's great grandmother, Lidia Berryman.

And this weekend they will be one of the exhibitors at Australia's first-ever organic food expo at Sydney's Darling Harbour.

The family has gone to great lengths to carry out extensive scientific testing on their bananas to assess their vitamin and mineral content so they can market to sports people and those needing extra vitamins and minerals as well as to those wanting organic and chemical-free products including mothers looking for school snacks.

Korora Bay organic jams, chutney and dried bananas are available from Carobana in Korora, Essential Ingredients and the Little Larder in Coffs Harbour and Kombu Wholefoods in Bellingen.

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