It is a bad idea to try and find Finca Pasiflora by night. But there we were at 8.30pm, desperately winding our way through dark country roads in search of the farm owned by Wade Moore and his wife Yami, where we were due to spend our first Costa Rican weekend. When we finally arrived, we were greeted by a feast and slept deeply in a wooden bunk house to the sounds of cicadas and a cool evening breeze.
Born in Costa Rica to American parents, Wade spent time working in both the States and Central America before inheriting the family farm. With an electrical generator, supply of water from a stream that runs through the land, and stash of food grown from the soil, Finca Pasiflora is almost entirely self-sufficient.
Along with bananas and plantain, Wade grows sweet potato, yuca, carrot and other root vegetables, herbs, oranges and many other tropical fruits. He also houses chickens, ducks, pigs and a rodent species called “paca.”
On Finca Pasiflora, everything is made use of. Animals’ manure is used to fertilise the crops, and the waste from the crops is used to feed the animals. Even human waste is piped into a biodigester hiding behind the house, which facilitates the digestion of faeces and produces methane used for cooking all the fresh produce grown on the farm.
Though we could have spent our entire two-day visit
exploring the 30 ha of land at our fingertips, we visited Finca Pasiflora with
a mission. Banana varieties and integrative farming. Wade grows nine different
banana varieties, each with its own flavour and use, and he grows them among,
or integrated with, other crops. Just to name a few benefits, this integration
of many crop types allows for increased soil fertility, as nitrogen fixing
legumes can replace nitrogen in the soil, income diversification as more than
one product is grown, and increases biodiversity as a variety of insects are
attracted by the variety of plant life.
We had just two days to learn as much as we could about Finca Pasiflora, and to get as much as possible on film. Here is a peek into how we spent our time with Wade, and a flavour of a typical few days filming a documentary about bananas!
AM After an 8am breakfast, our first morning was spent touring and filming the woodland area of the farm, which was set aside to form a nature reserve. Here there were beehives in construction, and a system of ponds filtering sediment out of water diverted from the stream, preparing it for use in the farm.
After this we toured and filmed the farm itself, which is scattered in patches across the whole site. In Wade’s ‘plantation’ area, a row of bananas neighbours a row of sweet potato which neighbours a row of papaya, a pattern repeated across the plantation, sometimes even with other crops substituted in.
PM Our farm tour continued, finishing with a close look at all the varieties of banana grown, including a tasting session of these, more to come in a future blog! Wade showed us the process of cutting the bananas from the parent plant out in the farm, weighing the bananas whilst still attached to their stem, or ‘raceme’, and chopping the raceme into smaller ‘hands’ of bananas.
Having learnt about Wade’s philosophies and seeing them in practice on the farm, we finished the day with discussions about priority areas still needing to be filmed, decided who from Wade’s family we would like to interview and what focus the interviews could take.
Roles were also assigned for the next day! These roles usually fell into one of four teams: Interview team, B-roll team (filming landscapes, close ups, anything that isn’t a close up of a human face!), Bird Survey Team and Plant Survey team. Our final final tasks included recharging camera batteries, transferring photos and videos from SD cards to laptops, cleaning camera lenses and checking emails!
06:30: Bird Survey Team (Julian and Marina) and Plant Survey Team (Sara and Oscar) began in the field! Their aim was to create a list of all plant and bird species present on the farm, which we hope to use in the future to compare any differences in biodiversity present across the different farms we visited.
07:00: Interview Team began filming (Jackie, Mollie, Oscar)! We retraced our steps through the farm with Wade, filming him speaking about his crops and explaining his methods for cultivation
08:00 -09:00: Breakfast
11:00: Bird and Plant Survey teams finished with data collection! These teams then morphed into the B-roll team, getting our essential footage of all the crops and farm animals. Julian stepped out of filming to spend some time getting in touch with farmers we were yet to visit and organised future trips
14:00: Interview Team begins with Wade, B-roll team set up a time lapse camera, and gets footage with the drone
19:00: Download files from camera to laptops, and social media posts written for Facebook and Instagram
20:00: Interview with Yami about agroforesty and her previous background in biology and agriculture
21:30: Our last evening at Finca Pasiflora was celebrated by chatting away by a campfire, surrounded by fireflies and sounds of the forest
Assistant Creative Director
Mollie is an aspiring conservation biologist, and is optimistic that we can find ways to preserve the world’s incredible biodiversity whilst ensuring that peoples’ livelihoods prosper. Her previous research has focused on human interactions with ecosystems at the landscape level, including through forest restoration in Brazil and the introduction of an invasive newt species in the UK. Mollie’s childhood was spent stalking her friends pets, sifting through rockpools, and watching tadpoles grow into frogs in her makeshift tank. Having grown up in London, Mollie is at home in the hustle and bustle of busy city life, however she is always happiest by far when she is surrounded by trees and the quiet rustle of birds and squirrels. Apart from tree-hugging, you often find Mollie eating cake, doodling on scraps of paper or playing basketball. She hopes that Bananageddon will empower people to make small changes in their lives which will help contribute to a healthier world for everyone.