Florida Loquat Festival News – #19 January 2017

Jan 09, 2017 No Comments by

Celebrating Florida’s Urban Fruit

An Ecology Florida/Friendship Farms & Fare Annual Event

2017 Florida Loquat Festival

April 8, 2017

9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Frances Avenue Park, New Port Richey

Mark Your Calendars

Friends, Supporters, and Patrons at the 2106 Florida Loquat Festival

The 2017 Florida Loquat Festival will be Saturday April 8. Mark your calendars and make arrangements now to join loquat fans from around the state at Frances Avenue Park in New Port Richey.  This is only three months from now, so make your travel plans now.

Here is a great story about last year’s festival:

http://newsportrichey.org/2016/04/07/attendees-pack-frances-park-3rd-annual-loquat-festival/

See more details on this year’s festival later in this issue of Loquat News.

Loquat Harvest Soon To Begin

Fruit Now Forming

Young Fruit at Friendship Farms & Fare

The first young fruit is forming on trees around the area. We are still waiting to see how the record-breaking heat this past fall and early winter will impact the development of the fruit.

Last year, we began harvesting very early, and last year was the hottest year on record.  This year is forecast to be even hotter.  So, we’ll just watch and learn.

Last year our harvest tally here at the Farms was about 250 pounds. All told, we harvested an estimated 1,000 pounds.

Early Harvest from Last Season

Growers Update

Early Harvest Period About to begin:

Flowers, Fruitlings

Mature Fruit

The 2016-2017 season is nearing the early harvest period. We enjoyed our first fruit of the season on January 1, 2017. It was bit tart — which is little humor for folks familiar with our favorite fruit.  Just as a reminder, remember, last season (2015-2016 season), we observed our first ripe fruit on December 12.   So this season, the ripening is occurring a bit later – at least for now.

We also are now witnessing one of the wonderful features of the loquat: the presence on a single tree of fully ripe fruit (sweet and ready for harvest), near-ripe fruit, fruitlings, fruit buds, flowers, and flower buds.  

As we always say:  Check your own trees.

Here at our groves, on a single tree at this point in the early harvest season, we can see the entire fruit cycle – from flower to mature fruit. While quite beautiful to observe, this unique feature of the loquat reveals the remarkable fecundity of the tree and is tremendous value as a food source.  Because there are still flower buds on the tree, it means that the tree will still be producing fruit for a least another two months – if not longer.  Because the entire range of maturity is also witnessed, it means that there will be fresh fruit daily from now until those flowers have turned to fruit – in March or April.

We expect fruit to be coming in through April, at least. That’s four months, total.  Few other fruit-producing trees have such a long fruiting season. What stamina!

If you have trees, take a moment and check to see if they are flowering, budding, fruiting – and if you have mature fruit.  Some trees in the area do.

Loquats bud and flower at different times – anywhere from late to spring to early winter.  They continue to bud and flower well into the winter.  Also, another wonderful gift of the loquat is that the fruit production cycle (flower, bud, fruitling, mature fruit) of a single tree is usually staggered, so that fruit clusters become mature over an extended period.  One of our mature trees (grandmother) currently has flowers, buds, fruitlings, and a few mature fruit. This means that this tree will be producing fruit well into the spring, if not the early summer.  

Stay tuned for further updates, and please send us your stories and images.

Call For Harvest Teams

~ Join a Team or Start Your Own ~

So far, we have one harvest team assembled – Old Number One.  We’d love to have several more.  Let us know if you would like to participate in a harvesting event.  Harvest teams will visit trees in designated areas, and harvest fruit that has been dedicated to the Loquat Festival by home and property owners.

Weekly harvests will be made available to our preserve producers for preparation of the delicious preserves (jellies and jams) that are so popular at the festival.  Team members will receive a portion of the harvest for their own enjoyment.

If you would like to join a harvest team, please let us know.  We are looking to establish teams in West Pasco, but would be happy to welcome folks from the entire Tampa Bay Region – and beyond!

Know Any Good Trees?

The Loquat Festival is looking for a few good trees – actually, quite a few.  If you have a tree (or trees) whose fruit you’d like to share, please let us know.  See contact information at the end of the newsletter.  

If you know of others who have fruit-bearing trees, please ask if they will share their harvest with the festival.  We are looking to harvest in the West Pasco area, but if we have teams or even lone-harvesters elsewhere, we’d be delighted to welcome their harvest into the mix.

More About 2016 Loquat Festival

April 8, 2017

9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Frances Avenue Park

New Port Richey

As always, this is a Loquat Exclusive event. Only loquats and loquat-related products will be available.  Lectures, demonstrations, and educational sessions will be dedicated solely to loquats. The poetry salon at the event will also focus on loquats.  At the event, look for:

Fresh Loquats

Trees (from young saplings to 6-8 trees)

Fertile Seeds for planting

Loquat food-products

Educational Programs (cultivating, harvesting, canning, cooking)

Culture and Humanities (poetry, fiction, history, philosophy)

Literature (recipe booklet, commemorative brochure, poetry chapbook)

Event T-Shirt, with distinctive Loquat Festival logo (we are affirming for advance contributions to create this unique commemorative artifact)
If you are interested in loquats, New Port Richey on April 8, 2017 place to be. We are the only loquat festival in the state, and probably the only one in the nation.  Mark your calendars (electronic an traditional), tell your friends and family. Most of all, join us on April 8 for this one-of-a-kind celebration and learning festival.

Our nurseries will have seedlings, young trees, larger trees, and some very large trees.  Our harvesting teams will have fresh loquats of various varieties.  Local cottage food producers will have loquat preserves (jellies, jams, compotes, and preserves).  As always, we’ll give away loquat seeds to the first one hundred  folks who show up – and more if possible.  

Beside loquat products, the festival will include educational presentations on seed starting and grafting, harvesting, and food production.  The popular loquat poetry salon will take a new and larger form this year – expanding to become the Florida Loquat Literary Festival.  This year’s keynote address will offer a consideration of loquats and urban agrarianism.

New for 2017

The Florida Loquat Literary Festival

We are excited about this year’s new event, the Florida Loquat Literary Festival.  We’ll feature sessions for professional writers, non-professionals, and children.  And of course, we’ll continue our tradition of on-site day-of-event poems.

Curators for the literary festival are Ryan Chen and Lacie Meier from the University of South Florida’s Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.  All poems will be published in the 2017 edition of Leaves of Loquat – the festival’s exclusive literary journal.  Like everything else related to the festival, we are fairly certain that Leaves of Loquat is the only literary journal devoted exclusively to loquat literature.

We’ll have more information on the Literary Festival and how to submit your work  in the next issue of Loquat News.   In the meantime, if you are already planning to submit, you can drop us a line here at Loquat News and we’ll forward it on to Ryan and Lacie.

Opportunities to Assist

Harvesting

Fruit Sharing

Preserve Making

On-site Assistance

If you would like to volunteer to assist with the event, please let us know as soon as possible.  Our greatest desire is for volunteers to assist with harvesting the fruit – especially the week before the event.  We also welcome folks who will donate the harvest of their trees.  Let us know if you have a tree, whose bounty you’d like to share with us.

Sylvia Spencer Offering Loquat Preserves at 2016 Festival

We are also looking for folks to prepare and sell preserves.  As many of you know, one of the traditions of the Loquat Festival is selling out of all the jellies, jams, compotes, canned halves and slices.  That is a tradition we would like to bring to an end next year.  In order to do so, however, we’ll need more folks willing to make the preserves. We cannot guarantee sales, but last year over 400 jars were sold in less than two hours.

Folks are also welcome to assist the managers on the day of the event.  There are wide number of tasks and opportunities to assist at the festival itself.  

Let us know if you’d like to help in any of these areas.

Support Opportunities Available

If you or your business would like to support this year’s festival, please let us know, and we’ll send you our supporter package.  You can contact us through the Ecology Florida website. If you leave a phone number, we’ll give you a call.  

http://www.ecologyflorida.org/contact-ecology-florida/

http://www.ecologyflorida.org/

Thank You

Your interest and support of loquats and the Florida Loquat Festival is appreciated. Thanks for being part of our mission to increase awareness, appreciation, and use of “Florida’s Urban Fruit.”

Please share this newsletter with others you know.  For information on supporting our work, see the contact addresses and link earlier in the newsletter, and below.

See you at the 2106 festival:  

April 8 2017

9:00 – 2:00

Frances Avenue Park, New Port Richey

Did you find this information helpful? If you did, consider donating.

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