California transplant brings tropical harvest to his backyard in Arkansas

Special Reports
January 01 2022 12:00 am

MAUMELLE, Ark. – Bananas are typically grown in tropical climates like Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, but they’re not usually grown in Arkansas, especially in someone’s backyard.

A California native who planted roots in Arkansas is bringing the tropical harvest to the Natural State.

What started as a small endeavor, quickly grew into a full-on hobby for Southern California native, Dennis Goulet.

“The first one I bought was a foot tall and about the size of my pinkie in diameter,” he said. “In the first year, it grew to about five or six feet tall.”

Goulet started growing banana trees in his backyard four years ago, saying he “had no idea what to expect.”

Two years and a bunch of patience and water later, Goulet’s backyard venture proved to be a fruitful one.

“Last year I had about 220 bananas,” he said.

Goulet explained bananas like damp soil. Each plant requires about a gallon of water per day.

During the colder months, Goulet will dig up the plants and put them in the garage to keep them safe from the elements.

“I took pictures every other day, sometimes every day, showing the stage developments of the flowers,” he said. “I shared them on Facebook, and then all of a sudden you could start seeing little bananas.”

He doesn’t hesitate to split the success with family, friends and a few lucky neighbors.

“I didn’t realize until a couple years ago he was getting bananas, and we’re over here like ‘Yo, where the bananas?'” neighbor Frank Koester said. “To me, they are actually better than the ones you get at the grocery store.”

Goulet said it’s an adventure sure to get sweeter over time, and one that will keep him busy even at a ripe old age.

“As long as I’m physically capable,” he said.

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