The Gleaner NA July Special Edition

27 vanilla orchid in preparation for it to produce pods after nine months. Clad casually in cropped jeans, and moving expertly among the vegetation, a capped Binns divulges that vanilla is irresistible to men and that females should wear the scent, if they desire that romantic attention. The ex-banker turned farmer said she was taught how to pollinate when she used to visit a vanilla farm, which she said no longer exist and the practice not done commercially anymore on the island. “it’s very labour intensive … once I did over 100 in a day on this farm,” she explains. Binns also points out different types of bananas, such as Lakatan, Gros Michel and Fe’i that are cultivated on the flourishing property that is home and business. “We have 27 varieties of banana, and my favourite is the Gros Michel and that type was brought in to Jamaica fromMartinique, in 1835, by a botanist named Jean Francois Pouyat. It is the most expensive banana in the fruit market,” she said. “A fairly new variety is the Fe’I banana that was developed by a French scientist and they’re fine for boiling. Jamaica started to boil banana during World War One and called it Long Grain Rice, long before Uncle Ben’s. So, as a child if my neighbour said they were cooking long grain rice we knew what it was, but I don’t hear the term anymore,” Binns shared. She went on to say this type of banana boils within five minutes and it’s often very soft and is not ideal for export because of its propensity to get mushy when ripened and has a different flavour profile from the others. She also informed the group that bamboo was brought in from Asia to brace the banana plants. Interestingly, the skin of a young banana, like Aloe vera, commonly called ‘sinkle Bible’, has healing and therapeutic properties. “Some people, especially in the country areas, if a rusty should stick them, they’d crush the skin of the young green banana, add kerosene oil to it, heat it over lamp, then tie the area and it would draw out the poison.” The 90-minute tour revealed a number of endemic specimens, including Jamaica’s national bird, the hummingbird, otherwise known as the doctor bird, which she names and summons from the wild to glide and land on her guests’outstretched arms. It’s deemed a great teaching moment for parents in the diaspora to introduce their children to their Jamaican heritage. A leisurely stroll through the expansive variety of fruit trees and herbs, flowers, and trees of all sorts, including black pepper, allspice, jackfruit, breadfruit, sugar cane, fever grass, mint, rosemary, avocado pear, plantains, otaheite apples, mammee, mandarin, mangoes, oranges, Jamaica’s national flower, the lignum vitae, and national tree, the blue mahoe, reveals much about Jamaica in an transquil garden ambiance on the working plantation. But it was the welcome and farewell treats of natural juices, including cold coconut water and mammee punch that delighted the visitors. A sampling of various fruits that are in season were offered, but the highlight of the snack collection was the fried and salted breadfruit, which was sliced thinly and prepared without roasting nor boiled beforehand. A cooked version of the national dish, ackee and salt fish, whetted the appetite. The charming entrepreneur tickled her visitors’ senses with delightful sights, sounds, copious tasting, scents and feel of the Jamaican fauna that undoubtedly make the experience an everlastingly impactful one. Lorna Binns shows off a variety of tropical trees growing on the Sun Valley Plantation. CONTRIBUTED JAMAICA CONTINUED FROM 25 THE MONTHLY GLEANER | JULY 31 - OCTOBER 21, 2022 | | FEATURE