At Walt Disney World’s The Land Pavilion in Orlando, Florida, the Tropical Greenhouse is home to over “30 different edible crops from tropical areas around the world” states Disney horticulturalist Les Frey. He should know, he’s been here for 18 years and currently supervises the intern program as well as manages the lab and greenhouses. I spent about an hour with Frey the day before Christmas here at Epcot. Today we’re looking at one aspect of that tour which focused on some of the cool plants and fruits you can find here.
Here at the Tropical Greenhouse coconuts and other food crops are used to show visitors more about our food sources. Not only can you explore them up close here, you can also look up to see them in their raw, growing form. Pretty fun for this city Bee.
Frey explains, “Some of these crops are normally seen as ornamental garden plants (such as the canna & cleome), but in other countries they are used for food.”
One of the crops I didn’t expect to see are these Flutted Pumpkins (below), which Frey points out are normally grown in West Africa. Its seeds and leaves are edible and are a dietary staple for millions of people there. The seeds, when roasted, taste just like almonds. It grows even in the worst soil conditions.
We use papaya as fruit but in some parts of the word it’s used as a meat tenderizer.
The stuff that knocked my socks off were seeing my first pineapple while it’s growing and find out what coffee really looks like! I have to say this city Bee – who has only had a handful of cups of coffee in her entire life – embarrassingly asked, ” So, how do the beans get to be brown?” Les was kind enough to explain that in each of these bright red pods are two little beans waiting to be harvested.
Another fun aspect to the Tropical Greenhouse tours is being able to see various plants that we use all the time but rarely see beforehand. As an avid tea drinker, I was enamored with this Tea Garden!
The Spice garden was just as much of a treat. I may have learned a lot while on this amazing adventure visiting gardens across the U.S., but I am still a novice when it comes to gardening and plant identification. That is one of the things that makes this adventure so much fun. I have to say it’s been AMAZING!
Les Frey was showing one way they illustrate the crop-to-table approach, “We showcase several plants in our spice garden and as part of our tour we pass around samples of various spices to let our guests smell them to figure out what each spice is.”
One of the first things you learn during The Land boat ride is that we consume about 80 million bananas a year. Yet again, I have only seen bananas on their trees in photographs. I was surprised at how lovely and colorful they are before they are ripened and cut down.
If you find yourself visiting Epcot, don’t miss The Land ride. It’s in The Land Pavilion right next to Soarin’! Be sure to stop by the information desk to see about the Behind the Seeds Tour. I had a great time here and hope you enjoyed these posts! A special thanks to Les Frey who is one of the nicest people I’ve met while on the first ever Photo Garden Bee Tour! Thank you Les for your time and efforts answering ALL my questions.
Tomorrow were switching gears to some great art buzz over at Jacksonville’s The Cummer Museum and Gardens. We’re taking a look at some of the earliest Botanical drawings done in America from the 1600’s by Jacques Le Moyne on view until the end of this weekend!
Britt : )