For some time now, the Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI) has been growing novelty bananas plants for the enjoyment of visitors, staff, and adults in custody (AICs). AICs that work at the OSCI Greenhouse maintain these enormous plants, and twice a year the AICs thin them down to ensure healthy regrowth of the plants for the next growing season.
Prior to 2020, the discarded plant material was just unheeded as yard waste. The adults in custody thought there must be a better use for the plant material and proposed the idea of donating the clippings to the Portland Zoo. The AICs idea became a reality and now the leaves, stalks, and small fruit from the banana plants are being donated to the Portland Zoo for the animals to enjoy.
While the brows are intended for elephants, many other animals appreciate the goodies like the orangutangs, polar bears, and even the goats!
This past December, OSCI supplied the Zoo with approximately three yards of this special treat. The success of this program has staff and AICs looking for more ways to donate discarded plant material to the Zoo!