Florida Loquat News
The Newsletter of The Florida Loquat Festival No. 14
Celebrating Florida’s Urban Fruit
An Ecology Florida/Friendship Farms & Fare Annual Event
2016 Florida Loquat Festival – March 26, 2016 – 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Frances Avenue Park. New Port Richey
Mark Your Calendars
This year’s Florida Loquat Festival will be Saturday March 26. Mark your calendars and make arrangements now to join loquat fans from around the state at Frances Avenue Park in New Port Richey.
See more details later in this issue of Loquat News.
Loquat Harvest Begins – Fruit Ripens Early
Fruit at Friendship Farms & Fare
We’ve started the loquat harvest. This is the earliest we have begun the harvest, but there is a large quantity of ripe fruit, and the window for loquats is rather narrow – so, to the trees! We don’t usually see this much mature fruit until mid-February.
The early ripening is doubtless due to the record-breaking heat we had in December, and the ripe fruit is small. Our two oldest trees at Friendship Farms & Fare (Grandmother and Grandfather trees) have the greatest amount of ripe fruit, by far. There is a considerable quantity of fruit in various stages of maturity on the younger trees, but very little is ripe.
Also, don’t forget the Florida Loquat Festival, – March 26. See details later in the Farm Report.
Harvest Tally – Just Getting Started – 10 lbs.
It is a little early to start the annual tally, but we’ve been harvesting and keeping track, so seems best to start the tally. As noted above, this is early for harvests. Harvests so far have been small, and mostly for the Friendship Farms & Fare CSA.
We did have an education session for folks on one of the harvesting teams, and netted about 6 pounds as part of the learning event.
Last year our harvest tally here at the Farms was about 100 pounds. All told, we harvested an estimated 800 pounds.
Growers Update – Early Harvest Period: Flowers, Fruitlings, Mature Fruit
The 2015-2016 season is now entering the early harvest period. As noted above, this is very early for significant harvesting to begin. 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.
Just as a reminder, remember, we observed our first ripe fruit – two bright orange nuggets on December 12. 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. Many 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 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.
Harvest Teams Coming Together
~ Join a Team or Start Your Own ~
So far, we have two harvest teams assembled. 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: March 26, 2016 – 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:
Trees (from young saplings to 6-8 trees)
Fertile Seeds for planting
Educational Programs (cultivating, harvesting, canning, cooking)
Culture and Humanities (poetry, 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 March 26 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 March 26 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 again be a feature of the festival, and this year’s keynote address will offer another consideration of the cultural context of the loquat.
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.
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 150 jars were sold in less than two hours.
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.
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:
March 26 2016
9:00 – 2:00
Frances Avenue Park, New Port Richey
Friendship Farms & Fare is a branch of Ecology Florida, a not-for-profit corporation. Contributions to Friendship Farms & Fare and Ecology Florida are tax deductible. To learn more about Ecology Florida, please visit the website: http://www.ecologyflorida.org/
Friendship Farms & Fare website is http://www.fffsite.org/
If you would like to support our mission and individual projects, you may share donations through our website (http://www.ecologyflorida.org/) or at our mailing address:
PO Box 596
New Port Richey, FL 34656-0596
Friendship Farms & Fare affirms and advances agrarian ideals to reestablish a sustainable culture
Ecology Florida advances the harmonious integration of healthy natural, cultural, and economic ecologies to regenerate a sustainable world
Ecology Florida, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization, with 501(c)(3) designation. Contributions to Ecology Florida, Inc. are tax deductable under section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code.
Ecology Florida is a registered charitable organization in the state of Florida. Registration number, CH 33333. A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.