Florida Loquat News
The Newsletter of The Florida Loquat Festival
Celebrating Florida’s Urban Fruit
July 15, 2018
Published by Ecology Florida and Friendship Farms & Fare
Here is Your Post-Festival issue of the Florida Loquat News
Poets, planners, canners, volunteers, vendors, and sponsors at the 2018 Florida Loquat Festival.
Fifth Annual Loquat Festival Great Success
Education, Economic, and Cultural Impact Significant
See inside for festival coverage, news of next year’s event, opportunities to participate, educational resources, and growers’ updates.
Fifth Annual Loquat Festival Great Success
Education, Economic, and Cultural Impact Significant
The fifth annual Florida Loquat Festival was a great success. Estimates are that 600 to 800 persons attended the March 24 event, and judging from sales, that number seems accurate. Over 400 jars of preserves were sold, well over 100 saplings were sold, festival t-shirts sold out of most sizes, and the famous Freedom House loquat cookies once again sold out quickly. We still have some commemorative brochures available. Send a note (and donation if you like), and we’ll send one to you.
The educational program was very well attended and the literary festival featured a number of cutting-edge creations from poets from around the country. This year’s literary festival included prizes for top three poems. Winners were Jan Ball for “loquat jam,” Lorna Wood for “Loquats in Vienna,” and Anju Kanwar for her poem, “Age of Aquarius.”
Because of the exceptionally cold winter, the fruit matured late, but we still had plenty of fresh loquats. Last year (2017), you may recall, we had a warm winter and the fruit matured very early, leaving us with very little fruit for the festival. Quite the opposite this year, with late ripening fruit – coming in abundantly in the week just before the festival.
We are all reminded that the Loquat Festival is a celebration of seasonal fruit grown in and around the Springs Coast Watershed. The quantity of fruit at the festival is based largely on regionally available production. Later in this edition, will be further details on the 2018 harvest and where we stand looking ahead to 2019.
This year, the festival featured addresses and lectures by the mayor of New Port Richey, Rob Marlowe; local acupuncturist, David Maharajah; Jeff Wright of Wrights’ Natural Market; Pete Kanaris of Green Dreams; and Dell deChant from the Department of Religious Studies at USF.
Several sponsors of the festival also shared words of appreciation and support, including: Jon Labossiere from Premier Supporter, Suncoast Credit Union; Joan Nelson Hook from Major Supporter, the Hook Law Group; Greg Smith from Major Supporter, the New Port Richey Rotary Club; and dedicated supporters Jeff Wright of Wright’s Natural Market and David Maharajah of Maharajah Acupuncture and Herb Shoppe.
Also supporting but not presenting, S.I. Electric (Judy Nicita), People Places (Frank Starkey), Natural Choice Pest Control (Luke Walker), West Pasco Habitat for Humanity, the City of New Port Richey, deChant Public Relations, and NewsPortRichey.
Besides his address, the mayor read a proclamation from the city declaring March 24, 2018, Loquat Day in the city. We had a number of folks from outside the area join us, with confirmed visitors from Syracuse, New York; Mobile, Alabama; Atlanta and Macon, Georgia, and Houston, Texas. From Florida, we welcomed vistors from Aripeka, Gainesville, Orlando, Tallahassee, Spring Hill, Miami, Sarasota, Brooksville, Tampa, Gulfport, and St. Petersburg. Recent immigrants from South Asia, Central Asia, and Europe also attended.
All in all, the festival was a great success, and organizers are already at work planning next year’s festival – March 23, 2019 (9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.). Mark your calendars, and as we always remind: come early for best selection.
Subscribe to Loquat News and Tell a Friend
Go to the Ecology Florida website to sign up for Loquat News. If you know of others who might like to learn more about the loquat and our festival, send them the link.
We publish Loquat News periodically – 4-6 times a year (sometimes more). The News has updates on the festival and the seasonal progression of the trees. We like to share reports from folks who are nurturing trees on their property. From time to time we’ll feature growers, grove curators, nurseries, and preserve producers. You might see an editorial from time to time, and even a little whimsy.
Here’s how to reach us and enter a subscription:
Mark Your Calendars for Next Year’s Festival
March 23, 2019
Barbara Klepper, one of the lead harvesters (and terrific loquat preserve maker!) poses with some of the 2018 harvest a few days before the festival.
Thanks To Supporters and Volunteers
Every year, we are so thankful for the support of the community and the many businesses in the area who participate. This year is no exception We could not do the festival without this support. In this spirit, we are happy to share sincerest thanks with these groups and individuals (with note of their role in the festival):
Friendship Farms & Fare
Suncoast Credit Union
Major Event Supporters
The Hook Law Group
The Rotary Club of New Port Richey
Maharajah Acupuncture and Herb Shoppe
Natural Choice Pest Control
Wright’s Natural Market
West Pasco Habitat for Humanity
City of New Port Richey
deChant Public Relations
Rose’s Bistro Off Main
Creative Institute for Dental Arts
New Port Richey FarmNet
Environmental Committee of the City of New Port Richey
East Madison Growers Club
New Port Richey Public Library
Parks & Recreation Department of the City of New Port Richey
The Nature Coaster – Promoter
Green Dreams – Featured Nursery
Creative Institute of Dental Arts – Material Donor
Buttercup Kitchens – Cottage Industry Participant
Rose’s Bistro – Formative Contributor and Original Host
Coastal Rental – Material Donor
Grand Gardens – Featured Harvesters
East Madison Growers – Featured Harvesters
Sylvia Spencer – Friend of the Loquat and Organizer
Joan Nelson Hook – Friend of the Loquat
Ryan Cheng – Friend of the Loquat and poetry curator
Jon Tietz – Friend of the Loquat
Jake Pieterese – Friend of the Loquat and volunteer
Pete Kanaris – Friend of the Loquat
Roy Kaplan – Friend of the Loquat and spoken-word performer
Barbara Klepper – Friend of Loquat and harvester
Frank Starkey – Friend of the Loquat
Amelia Maseda – Friend of the Loquat, harvester, and volunteer
Wendy Buffington – Friend of the Loquat and founder of Loquat Poetry Festival
Jeff Wright – Friend of the Loquat
Jim Kovaleski – Friend of the Loquat
Judy Nicita – Friend of the Loquat
Rose Mohr and Jerry Kuss – Friends of the Loquat
Gary and Paula Gann – Friends of the Loquat
Dell and Marilynn deChant – Friends of the Loquat and volunteers
And many others.
Next Year: Already?
The Florida Loquat Festival’s 6th Anniversary
March 23, 2019
We are already planning next year’s festival, with a tentative date of March 23, 2019 (9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.), Frances Avenue Park, New Port Richey Florida. The program will be 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
New features are planned for 2019, and future editions of the News will give details. If you would like to volunteer to assist with the event, please let us know as soon as possible.
We are looking for harvesters, canners, and bakers. Let us know if you are interested. We also welcome folks who will donate the harvest of their trees.
We are also looking for folks to prepare and sell preserves, and baked goods. 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, and baked goods (cookies, muffins, breads). That is a tradition we would like to bring to an end in 2019.
Needless to say, preparing loquat food products is a great way to supplement one’s income – and it makes a real contribution to creating a sustainable culture.
Barbara, Dell, and Roy at a residential harvest site. Every year dozens of folks in the community donate the fruit from their trees to the festival.
Growers’ Update I
2017-2018 Season Report
If you were growing loquats in the 2017-2018 season, your harvest was probably very late and very heavy. That was the case for the groves at Friendship Farms & Fare and East Madison Gardens & Groves – our two main loquat orchards.
Winter brought a freeze in New Port Richey and vicinity. On January 18. temperatures dipped to 28 degrees at our main orchards. That’s exactly the temperature at which the young fruit can be damaged. The trees themselves can take temperatures down to 10 degrees.
At the time of the freeze, most of the fruit was still green and developing. The freeze seems to have slowed the ripening process – but it only slowed it. There were some anxious weeks as the fruit appeared not to ripen. We waited, patiently, but with great intention.
Other growers in the area reported damage to their fruit, and a reduced harvest. In New Port Richey, per se, and the more urbanized areas nearby, the fruit was not damaged – but its maturation was slowed significantly.
By mid-March, we noticed some clusters ripening – taking on that beloved yellow-orange hue. This was about two weeks before the festival. The first harvests were light, just enough for the canners to get started. Soon enough, however, all the trees had ripening fruit.
The week before the festival (March 17-23), all the trees in the main orchards had ripe fruit, and we observed ripe fruit on trees around the region. Harvest teams set out in earnest. The total harvest before the festival was over 500 pounds, and there was enough fruit on hand to satisfy festival goers.
Notably, the harvest continued long after the festival, with our main orchard yielding an additional 200 more pounds. The harvest finally came to an end in the first week of May, although there was still fresh fruit as late as mid-May.
All of this was quite the opposite of last year (2016-2017). Then, some will recall, we experienced extreme heat through the winter and very dry conditions. The harvest was very early, and ended in early April – the earliest our harvest has ever closed.
All told, harvests associated with the Florida Loquat Festival 2018 summed to over 1,000 pounds. Directors estimate that another 1,000 pounds could have been harvested if more harvesters were available.
Growers’ Update II
2018-2019 Season Report
Advance Notes for 2018-2019
First Buds Appear July 2, 2018
The trees have their summer foliage now, and growers can look for the first buds and flowers anytime now. With the arrival of the rainy season, the trees should do just fine without much irrigation. For archival purposes, we note that we do not irrigate our trees after they are established (about a year) – except during extreme droughts, which we had in 2016-2017. We also do not fertilize, although we know those who do. Our experience is that loquats thrive without extra water or fertilizer – this is part of what we find so appealing about Florida’s Urban Fruit.
What to look for in the next few months: new leaves mature, buds appear, then flowers, and first fruitlings.
By now, the new leaves put out in the early spring are beginning to mature. Buds should be appearing, which is the case with our orchards in New Port Richey
With buds now appearing, and looking ahead, growers should be alert to the first flowers – the signal of the commencement of the fruiting cycle.
Flowers may appear as early as June, although we have not seen any yet this year. The earliest we’ve had flowers at Friendship Farms & Fare is June 20. We do have buds, so we expect to see some flowers soon.
Once flowering starts, it will continue throughout the summer and into the fall, which means significant fruiting will begin as early as late fall and continue through early spring – with a single tree often bearing fruit for two to three months.
The first fruitlings should appear a little more than a month after the first flowers. We’ve noted that development tends to vary, which we attribute to weather conditions and increasing heat due to global warming. In our experience, above normal heat, lack of rain, and arid conditions (as we had in the 2016-2017 season) seem to accelerate maturation and quantity of fruit. In contrast, more rain, overcast conditions, and cooler temperatures slow maturation and quantity of fruit.
At Friendship Farms & Fare and East Madison Gardens & Groves we’ve planted more trees – Yahudas, Bradentons, Christmas, Olivers, Champaign, two more Golden Nuggets. In total, we now have 22 trees in our orchards.
We look forward to a fruitful year.
Seed Starts and Seedlings: wait two months. One of the more persistent questions we receive concerns germination of loquat seeds. In our experience, seeds from locally established varieties of loquat trees germinate in just about two months. Almost like clockwork, two months after planting the seed, the first tender shoot appears. Also, on the basis of our experience, trees grown from seed mature and produce true to their parent. Cultivars are another issue, and seeds from them may not germinate.
The main guidance given here is to give the seeds at least two months to germinate. To be sure, we suggest waiting three months. So many have reported being dissatisfied with their seeds not germinating, only to learn that they gave up weeks before germination would have occurred.
Update on “Spring Hill Giant” (2017) Every harvest, we select seeds for starting at the nursery from the trees that produce abundant, large, and healthy fruit. Last year (2017), we selected seeds from a beautiful tree in Spring Hill. The variety was not identified, but we suspect it is a Gold Nugget or Bradenton – but it could also be a hybrid, as are many of the trees that flourish in the Springs Coast Watershed.
We are dubbing it “Spring Hill Giant.” We planted ten seeds in our seeding mix on March 27, 2017 and the first sprout appeared on May 29, 2017. See note, above, on the typical two-month germination period. Of the ten seeds planted, as of this issue (early July 2019), our little collection features saplings about two feet high with unusually large leaves.
We are compiling a booklet with archival articles on the loquat in Florida. The booklet will contain the two articles recently discovered by our researchers – Isabelle Krome’s 1936 article, “Louqats,” and John Popenone’s 1960 article “Evaluation of Loquats.” We have releases on these articles.
We are also seeking release from Winthrop Packard’s reflection on loquats in his famous 1910 book, Florida Trails. As an additional feature, we are including Dell deChant’s essay, “The Loquat’s Cultural Context.”
We expect the booklet to be available later this year, with a suggested donation of $10.00. Let us know if you’d be interested.
Commercial Potential of Loquats
We remain convinced of the excellent business opportunities available for enterprising folks who want to develop commercial ventures using loquats. Our festival has shown us that there is a market for a wide range of loquat products – from fresh fruit during the season, trees year round, to pies and other pastries (including cookies!) – and of course, preserves of all varieties. Harvesters could also prosper during fruiting season, and growers and cultivators throughout the year.
Loquats may be just the answer for some of the many folks who are looking for more sustainable endeavors, or just meaningful work. There is no question that a market for loquats exists – the Florida Loquat Festival proves that. Equally clear is that as of now that market has hardly been developed. Let us know if you are planning to pursue the commercial potential of loquats. We’ll publicize your endeavors, and feature your project at next year’s festival.
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.
Attendees at the 2018 Loquat Poetry Festival – now a regular feature of the Florida Loquat Festival.
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.
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 https://tarrylane.wixsite.com/friendship
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
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.
Next Year’s Festival March 23, 2019
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