Florida Loquat Festival News #20 – February 2017

Feb 13, 2017 No Comments by

Celebrating Florida’s Urban Fruit

An Ecology Florida/Friendship Farms & Fare Annual Event

2017 Florida Loquat Festival Fast Approaching
Mark Your Calendars!

April 8, 2017

9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Frances Avenue Park

New Port Richey

Mark Your Calendars

Loquat

Deb and Travis during the 2016 Harvest

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 two months from now, so make your travel plans now.

America’s Only Loquat Festival

To the best our knowledge the Florida Loquat Festival in New Port Richey, Florida, is the only loquat festival in the United States of America.  There are loquat festivals in other parts of the world, including China and Japan.  So far, however, we’ve not learned of any others in the USA.

Loquat Harvest Underway

Ripe Fruit at Friendship Farms & Fare

The record-breaking heat this fall and winter is leading to early harvests.  Many trees are ready for harvest already.

Last year, we began harvesting very early, and last year was the hottest year on record.  This year has been even hotter.  

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

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!

If you would like to help with the harvest, contact Sylvia Spencer at (407) 488-5018.  Or email at gardenmaiden13@gmail.com

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.  If you have trees and would offer them for harvest, please let us know.  Contact Sylvia Spencer at (407) 488-5018.  Or email at gardenmaiden13@gmail.com

Growers Update

Flowers, Fruitlings

Mature Fruit

As noted above, the 2017 harvest season is underway.  Well ahead of schedule

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 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.  

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.

More About 2017 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.

Florida Loquat Literary Festival: Call For Submissions

The Florida Loquat Festival is seeking one-page poetry and prose submissions for a reading at the event, held at Frances Avenue Park in New Port Richey, Florida, April 8, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. We welcome all styles and forms as long as loquats are the subject or central image. Submissions are not restricted to professional poets and we encourage and welcome submissions anyone who wishes to participate. Accepted submissions will be invited to read at the event at 1:00 pm and will be published in the annual chapbook, Leaves of Loquat, which will be presented in the fall during a public event. Lastly, any time remaining after the reading will be open to the public for open mic presentations. Again, all ages and levels of experience are welcome to submit.

Up to three submissions of all things loquat (poetry or prose) are allowed. If making more than one submission, please send all at the same time. No submission may be more than one page.  One submission, per author, will be selected.  Include brief cover letter/bio sharing your writing experience/publications, if any, to chengr@mail.usf.edu by 11:55pm on March 18th. Accepted submissions will be notified by March 31st. 

Link to Frances Avenue Park:

http://cityofnewportrichey.org/Facilities/Facility/Details/Frances-Avenue-Park-4).

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.

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 2017 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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