One of my favorite things about our Holyoke Edible Forest Garden are the banana trees growing in front of our house. People are always surprised to see them growing here. They grow tall each summer, with big tropical leaves spreading out to cover our front porch. Our climate is too cold for them to fruit, but we love them for the look. Below is a photo of my housemate, Marikler, with our front tropical garden. The banana trees are to the right and bottom of the photo.
Our neighbors love the banana trees for the leaves! One day I came home from work and pulled into the driveway to find a neighbor standing there with a machete in his hand. He said it was about to frost and asked if he could cut the leaves. He wanted to give the leaves to his sister to make pasteles. You can find out more about pasteles here. He offered to bring us pasteles in exchange for the leaves. What a great trade. That's the thing about edible forest garden cooking. Sometimes you don't even have to cook! You just grow cool things, give them away, and people bring you fully prepared food.