Florida Loquat Festival News #21 – March

Mar 20, 2017 No Comments by

Florida Loquat Festival News – No. 21

March 2017

Celebrating Florida’s Urban Fruit

An Ecology Florida/Friendship Farms & Fare Annual Event

2017 Festival Almost Here

Mark Your Calendars

The Florida Loquat Festival

April 8, 2017

9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Frances Avenue Park

New Port Richey

Barbara & Sylvia during recent harvest at Don & Cindy’s tree

We are only a few weeks away from the 2017 Florida Loquat Festival on 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.  

Link to Frances Avenue Park:

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

Barbara & Sylvia during a recent harvest at Don & Cindy Cadle’s Tree

News on Trees For the Event

We are delighted to report that this year we will have more cultivars and seed-grown varieties than ever before, and perhaps the most ever in any one place.  We have at least two certified nurseries confirmed and we might have a third.  This year we are featuring Green Dreams: A Sustainable Solutions Company.  Under the leadership of Pete Kanaris, this unique firm creates ecological landscapes that provide long-term curb appeal with a bonus: your favorite veggies, fruits, herbs, and more. Their methods reduce maintenance needs and eliminate costly resources (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and excess water). 

Green Dreams creates edible landscapes, organic gardens, and ecological design in the Tampa Bay area and beyond.  The company offers all the elements needed for an at-home oasis that will nourishes health and ignites the senses.

For this year’s festival, Pete has gone all out.  In comments to Ecology Florida News and Florida Loquat News, Pete reported: “We will have somewhere between 120-150 grafted loquats. Here is a list of the varieties we carry:

Ed’s delight
Golden nugget
Christmas
Bradenton
Premier
Sherry
Yehuda
Champagne
Oliver”

Pete is working to have a message board present at the festival with the flavor profiles for people to read and choose from.  Cultivars will grow true to their variety and often produce fruit within a year – although there is no guarantee of that.

Joining Green Dreams will be Friendship & Fare from New Port Richey, one of the sponsors of the event.  Their trees are all seed-grown, with seeds selected from the best trees in their high-yielding grove, which is part of their urban farm.  Friendship & Fare curators report that their trees produce fruit in two to three years. Noted one representative, “We’ve never had trees not produce in three years, and many produce in two.”

If you are interested in acquiring trees, please come early.  We are aiming to have more trees than last year, but in the past the trees have gone very quickly.

Special This Year: More Preserves

Besides the wide assortment of trees, this year should bring an even larger and wider selection of preserves.  We have commitments from two experienced cottage-industry canners, and inquiries from others.  Returning this year will be Sue Andreski’s Black Cat Kitchens and Sylvia Spencer’s Butter Cups Kitchens.  

At last count, overall production is ahead of last year, and we expect production to increase considerably in the coming weeks, as the early harvest is processed.  

Besides a wide variety of  jams, this year we’ll have jellies and loquat butter.  The canners are telling me they might have a couple of surprising new preserves as well.  There is already very high demand for offerings from these well-regarded canners, but at our request they are holding back most of their production for the event.  We want to be sure to that everyone has an opportunity to acquire the preservers of their choice.  As with the trees, come early for best selection.

Master canner (and also Master Gardener), Sue Andreski will be on the program offering a general introduction to canning loquats.  For Sue’s presentation, see information on the tentative program, below.

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.

Tentative Program

We are finalizing the program, but we wanted to share an advance outline of the tentative lineup.  

A new addition this year will be a welcome from the Mayor of New Port Richey, Rob Marlow, who will also share a reading of the City’s official proclamation of “Florida Loquat Day and the Florida Loquat Festival” in New Port Richey.  Also, new on this year’s program will be an expanded Loquat Literary Festival, curated by representatives from the MFA program in literature at the University of South Florida.  Joining us again this year, is New Port Richey’s resident urban farmer and local treasure, Jim Kovaleski.  This year Jim will be speaking on the topic of “Loquats and the Florida Homestead.

Here is this year’s tentative program:

The Florida Loquat Festival: Celebrating Florida’s Urban Fruit

Fourth Annual Celebration  *  April 8, 2017

Ripe fruit at Friendship Farms & Fare

Program (tentative)

10:00 a.m.

Welcome and Introduction

Dell deChant, University of South Florida

Proclamation & Welcome to New Port Richey

Rob Marlow, Mayor of New Port Richey

The Florida Loquat Festival Story & History

10:30 a.m.

Supporters’ Recognition & Comments

10:45 a.m.

Our Local Trees & Growing Your Own

11:00 a.m.

Loquats From Farm To Table: Canning & Beyond * Sue Andreski, Black Cat Kitchens

11:30 a.m. -12:00 noon

Loquats & The Florida Homestead * Jim Kovaleski, Freedom House Farms

12:00 – 12:15 p.m.

Special Announcement: New Port Richey FarmNet

Anne Short, FarmNet and Jake Pieterse, Habitat for Humanity

12:15-12:30 p.m.

Special Guest

12:30 p.m.

Loquats & Our Changing World * Dell deChant, USF

1:00 p.m.

Loquat Literary Festival: “O! Loquat!”

Ryan Cheng and Lacie Meier, MFA Program, Dept. of English, USF, Facilitatorx  

2:00 p.m.

Concluding Comments

Supporters’ Recognition and Thanks

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Festival Items: Suggested Donations

Festival T-Shirt $15.00

2017 Commemorative Brochure $5.00

Leaves of Loquat 2015 (poetry collection) $5.00

10 Seeds From Seed-germinated trees $1.00

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 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 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 Accepted submissions will be notified by March 31st. 

If you can’t get a submission in in time, bring it with you to the event – we’ll have an open mic opportunity for those who attend the festival.

Link to Frances Avenue Park:

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

Early Loquat Harvest

The record-breaking heat and extremely dry conditions this fall and winter have resulted in very early ripening of the fruit – leading to early harvests.  We have harvested close to double the usual amount as of this time in a typical year.

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

This is wonderful for the canners, but it does mean that we likely will have less fresh fruit for the festival.  We are already looking north to trees in Hernando County that run a bit behind those in the Tampa Bay region.

We will do all that we can to have abundant fresh fruit at the event, but might have to limit quantities due to early ripening this year. Please come early for best selection.

Last year the harvest tally at Friendship Farms was about 250 pounds. We are already close to that, and trees in this grove are still loaded with immature fruit. All told, we harvested an estimated 1,000 pounds.  We will certainly exceed that quantity this year.

Ripe Fruit at Friendship Farms & Fare

Still Welcoming Harvesters

Looking For More Next Year

If you would like to join a harvest team, please let us know.  It is a bit late in the harvest season – but not too late.   

We would be delighted to develop expert teams for work in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Contacts and reports from those counties indicate that there are many trees ready for harvest.  Our three reliable Springs Coast Teams (West Pasco) are barely keeping up harvest here, and none are available for extended travel.

If you live in Pinellas or Hillsborough, and have an interest and serious commitment to harvesting in future years, please contact Sylvia Spencer – information, below.

To join in this year’s harvest in the next few weeks, 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, below.  

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

Early Season

As noted above, the 2017 harvest season is well underway.  

Even though we have harvested a large quantity of fruit already, we continue to observe 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.  Yes, there are even some trees with blossoms.

As we always say:  Check your own trees.

At Friendship Farms, 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 – well into April and some even into May.

With fruit expected 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.  You’ll find that they are probably loaded with 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 mature tree in the area (beloved by locals as “grandmother tree”)  has flowers, buds, fruitlings, and loads of 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 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

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 our changing world.

Opportunities to Assist

Harvesting

Fruit Sharing

Preserve Making

Looking ahead to next year, and future year, if you would like to volunteer to assist with the event, please let us know.  

Our greatest desire is still 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.

For next year, we are 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.  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 next year, contact Sylvia Spencer at (407) 488-5018.  Or email at gardenmaiden13@gmail.com

Thank You To Our Supporters

Without the interest and support of a community, events like the Florida Loquat Festival cannot happen.  In the spirit of community and nurturing support, and in addition to festival’s founding and sponsoring organizations, Ecology Florida and Friendship Farms & Fare, The Florida Loquat Festival appreciates and celebrates these supporters – and we encourage you to support them in their commitment to the festival and restoring a sustainable world.

Founders and Exclusive Sponsors

Ecology Florida and Friendship Farms & Fare

Premier Supporter

Suncoast Credit Union

Major Supporters

Rotary Club of New Port Richey

The Hook Law Group

Contributing Supporters

People Places, Wright’s Natural Market, SI Electric, City of New Port Richey, deChant Communications, and NewsPortRichey    

Rose’s Bistro Off Main, Creative Institute of Dental Arts SunPrint Management

Participating Restaurants, Kitchens, and Bakeries:

(tentative, based on availability of fruit)

Rose’s Bistro Off Main

Caposey’s Whole Works Restaurant

Leaning Tower of Pizza

That Little Bakery on Grand

Participating Supporters

Environmental Committee of the City of New Port Richey

Cadle’s Cove Farms

East Madison Growers Club

Freedom House Farms

Grand Gardens

New Port Richey Public Library

Tasty Tuesdays

Parks & Recreation Department of the City of New Port Richey

Habitat For Humanity

New Port Richey FarmNet

Black Cat Kitchens

Butter Cups Kitchens

Support Opportunities Available

If you or your business would like to support next 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 2017festival:  

April 8 2017

9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Frances Avenue Park, New Port Richey

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

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