Learning to Garden, Disney Style

I have to tell you about our time behind the scenes of The Land at Epcot. I didn't know you can do this, but for $20 a person (or less if you're a passholder,) you can go behind the scenes of The Land boat ride to learn more about growing vegetable with hydroponics. You don't need a reservation. Just sign up at the desk outside of Soarin'. They have multiple times throughout the day.

My husband and I went on this 1 hour tour and it was so interesting! We learned about pest control using other insects. This method is so much better for the environment and supports the natural ecosystem. I got to carry a small container of ladybugs through the tour. At the end, I released them on the eggplants to help control damage from other insects.
Ladybug helps to control pests in the garden

You can actually buy ladybugs for your own garden to help control pests. They are shipped cold, which is how Disney stores them. When they get warm, they come right back to life, like a little bug coma.

The Cast member leading our tour was fun and knowledgeable. She taught us all about how the plants grow, and how they supply the restaurants in Walt Disney World with fresh produce. This includes giving fresh sugar cane to the gorillas in Animal Kingdom! We even got to try a fresh picked cucumber. It was yummy!

We learned about coffee and chocolate trees, as well as bananas and spices. This tree is a pepper tree. Each pepper corn will be taken off and treated to make either white, black or red pepper for seasoning.
Mickey shaped peppercorn tree
The peppercorns grow like berries on the tree. Once they are picked if not treated, they will all turn to black. You can then grind it up and put it on your table.

peppercorns
 
Along with gardening, and the secret to growing Mickey shaped vegetables, we also learned about fish farming (Aquaculture), aquaponics, and how Disney saved the American Alligator from the endangered list. It was a fun tour and I'm so glad I spent the extra money to do it.
 
Next time you're at Epcot and have an hour to spare, I would suggest doing this tour. If you're like me, you'll leave ready to grow your own vegetables with aquaponics!