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ring-tailed lemur sits on a tree branch

Lemurs go bananas

It’s not often that you get asked to come hang out with lemurs as part of your workday, but life as an Extension agent sometimes has its perks.

The Lemur Conservation Association reached out to UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County Extension to provide guidance on creating a composting system for the property, near Myakka City.

an array of young banana plants

An array of young banana plants. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County]

Home to six species of lemurs, the reserve includes a refuse area, located away from the main center and consisting of a mound of mulch, dirt and lemur waste. The area looked perfect to try a composting method known as a “banana circle.”

The concept is simple: banana plants ring a compost pile and feed off the nutrients. Start by digging a large, rounded pit to contain the mixture of food waste, lemur excrement and floor pine shavings. Then, plant a circle of banana plants around it. Fill the pit with the waste mix, and let the natural composting processes break down the materials and provide nutrients for the bananas.

Once the bananas are mature, they can even be used as Lemur food. A true closed-loop system; a natural “Farm to Table” concept.

As a bonus, the resident gopher tortoise, Compost Carl, also has been seen enjoying the banana circle.

The staff and 75 volunteers at the reserve took on the project, 100 percent. Since the installation, the banana plants have taken off in the circle, and the approach has proven to be a hugely successful composting method for the center. Future plans included working with Venture Scouts to plant four more banana circles to reduce more waste and grow more bananas.

To learn more about the reserve, visit the Lemur Conservation Association website.


*Special thank you also goes out to RR Farms of Palm River Florida for supplying start up banana plants.

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