It’s a big claim, that our local farmers markets have better bananas than the bananas of the very banana benders themselves, and it’s a bit of a tongue twister, but having eaten bananas from the Mullum Farmers Market myself every week for the last decade, I’m right behind it.
Those of you who go to the markets each week, like my partner, will know by sight Nev Singh and his wife Baljinder, who have been the smiling faces behind bunches of bananas at Northern Rivers farmers markets for ten years.
Nev says his favourite thing about the markets is the people. ‘All the kids get a free banana, the little ones’, he says with his trademark humble smile. Nev believes that the farming methods he uses on his farm on Fowlers Lane, Bangalow, are the key to his farm’s popularity – he uses very little spray, and uses natural fertilisers to grow his fruit.
They also cut the grass between the bananas, ‘We don’t spray’, says Nev, and during those misty hinterland mornings at the farm Nev says walking between the rows of banana trees is like walking on a lawn.
‘And we make sure our farm has minimum waste. Bananas are instant energy, healthy for you and no waste – the wrapper is biodegradable.’
As a third generation banana farmer, Nev has learned his skills from his father, who learned from his father before him. He believes the trick to growing bananas is natural fertilisers such as rock phosphates, and plenty of water – which the hinterland is happy to deliver.
Neville Singh and Sons Bananas currently grow an astounding nine varieties of banana. These are: the Cavendish, Lady Fingers, Red Dacca, Ducasse, Plantain, Blue Java, Dwarf Cavendish, Dwarf Ladyfinger and the Senorita.
And, getting to a crucial point, as numerous customers have attested, the Byron hinterland bananas taste sweeter and more full of flavour than their Far North Queensland counterparts.
‘Our bananas taste better than the Queensland bananas because we grow them slower,’ Nev says. ‘They really take their time to grow, and for the full flavour to get into them – around 15 to 18 months, compared to the Queensland ones, which can be grown in 9 to 12 months. It’s a big difference and less chemicals – and people tell us they can really taste the difference.’
Nev’s sons, Adam and Harnek, will be proudly continuing the banana business once Nev hands over the reins, ensuring Northern Rivers residents have this tasty treat for years to come.
Mullumbimby Farmers Markets
7am–11am every Friday at the Mullum Showgrounds.