Something interesting popped up among the locally grown carrots and lettuce heads at last week's ASU Farmers' Market: tiny clusters of still-green bananas grown right in downtown Tempe. Apparently, the banana trees are just one of many fruit-bearing plants on campus.
ASU's harvest program began back in the early '90s, when Arboretum workers began picking ripening dates from the date palms scattered around campus. The program grew, eventually yielding thousnds of pounds of dates and up to six tons of sour oranges per year.
If you've never spotted the broad-leafed banana trees on campus, that's because they're tucked inside the Secret Garden, a hidden courtyard in the center of one of the ASU buildings that until recently was one of the college's best kept secrets. At one point, finding the stairway down into the garden was a rite of passage earned after several years of schlepping books across campus.
Now, a spray-painted sign on the sidewalk near Dixie Gammage Hall literally points the way.
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The garden may be a little more exposed, but few locals know about the bananas, white sapote and other fruits that grow in the grassy expanse. We won't tip you off as to the "secret" location, but we can tell you it's an ideal spot for banana plants, which grow well in sunny climes when shaded and continuously watered. Now, you'll just have to find the sidewalk marker -- or head to the next farmers' market on April 5 and ask for bananas.