Florida Loquat News #35 – July 2019

Jun 12, 2019 No Comments by

Florida Loquat News

The Newsletter of The Florida Loquat Festival

Celebrating Florida’s Urban Fruit

No. 35

July 1, 2019

Published by Ecology Florida and Friendship Farms & Fare

https://www.ecologyflorida.org/

Find the Florida Loquat Festival on Facebook

Here is Your Post-Festival issue of the Florida Loquat News

2019 Loquat Literary Festival Participants

2019 Annual Loquat Festival Tremendous Success

Largest Attendance in Festival History

See inside for festival coverage, news of next year’s event, opportunities to participate, educational resources, and growers’ updates.

Untitled Haiku – Carmella Guiol

Stores don’t sell loquats.

I eat mine straight off the tree.

Where is the ladder?

– originally published in Leaves of Loquat, Vol. 3, 2017

Sixth Annual Loquat Festival

Tremendous Success

Largest Attendance in Festival History

Education, Economic, and Cultural Impact Significant

The sixth annual Florida Loquat Festival was a great success.  Estimates are that 800 t0 1ooo persons attended the March 23, 2019, event.  Sales of all items were the highest in the history of the festival.  There were more vendors (we call them partners), more varieties of loquat products, more entrees in the literary festival (with larger prizes), and the first ever loquat art exhibit.  

Some Facts & Data

Over 800 jars of preserves were sold, festival t-shirts sold out of most sizes, Andrea Hiotis sold nearly all of her original loquat art work, Pete Kanaris’ GreenDreams sold out of the complete stock of trees from the nursery, Roy Kaplan again brought down the house with his canticle of loquat songs, and Kelly Hackman shared her award-winning loquat tea.  Wright’s Natural Market offered loquat smoothies at its store in downtown New Port Richey and the Cotee River Brewing Company (also in downtown New Port Richey) introduced its own loquat beer — the first ever of its kind.

We still have some commemorative brochures and copies of the only loquat literary journal in America (Leaves of Loquat).  Send a note (and donation if you like), and we’ll send one to you.

The Loquat Literary Festival

This year’s literary festival had its largest number of entrees and largest attendance to date.   Entrees came from around the America, and a few from other countries. Winners were:

First Place – Joey Hedger:  “Loquat Sunset”
Second Place – R. Lynn: “cravings”
Third Place – Victoria Reed: “Florida Story”
Honorable Mention – Mary Bucklin: “The Loquat Tree”

As is the policy of the Loquat Literary Festival, all writers who read at the festival have their work published in Leaves of Loquat.  The 2019 issue will be the fifth edition.

What About the Fruit?

Glad you asked. 2019 was a good year for loquats, and for the first time since 2016, we had an abundance of fresh loquats at the festival.  In 2017, you may recall, there was little fruit at the festival.  We had a warm winter and the fruit matured very early, leaving us with very little fruit for the festival. Last year (2018), the fruit ripened very late (coming in abundantly in the week just before the festival), leaving little time for harvest.  So, we had less fresh fruit than we would have liked.

This year was different. We’d like to say normal, but climate change makes that word obsolete.  What we can say, is that we had a wonderful harvest, throughout the entire season, with plenty of fruit from mid-February right up to 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 2019 harvest and where we stand looking ahead to 2020.

The Program

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; Kelly Hackman of White Heron Tea & Gifts; 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 Major Sponsor, Suncoast Credit Union; Greg Smith from Major Supporter, the New Port Richey Rotary Club; and Judy Nicita from Major Supporter, S.I. Electric.  

In addition to helping to underwrite the festival, Judy and S.I. also supplied electrical power for the event, using 100% solar power with one of the systems they install.  That achievement is a success in its own right.

Also supporting but not presenting, People Places (Frank Starkey), The Hook Law Group (Joan Nelson Hook), Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, the Cultural Affairs Committee of the City of New Port Richey, deChant Public Relations, and NewsPortRichey.  

Besides his address, the mayor read a proclamation from the city declaring March 23, 2019, Loquat Day in the city.  The festival is a point of pride for the city, and one of four annual agrarian events held in New Port Richey.

The other three festivals are the Okra Occasion in the late summer, the Sweet Potato Round Up in the fall, and the Collards Green Festival in late fall or early winter.  All feature local produce, local food producers, and learning events presented by local leaders and teachers.

We had a number of folks from outside the area join us, with confirmed visitors from Chicago, New York City, Syracuse, Mobile, Atlanta, Houston, and Cleveland.  From Florida, we welcomed visitors from Dade City, Aripeka, Ocala, Gainesville, Orlando, Tallahassee, Spring Hill, Miami, Sarasota, Brooksville, Tampa, Gulfport, and St. Petersburg. 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 21, 2020 (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 or find us on facebook. If you know of others who might like to learn more about the loquat and our festival, send them the link or direct them to our facebook page.  

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:

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

https://www.ecologyflorida.org

Find the Florida Loquat Festival on Facebook

Mark Your Calendars for Next Year’s Festival

March 21, 2020

Three of the hundreds who attended the 2019 Florida Loquat Festival, New Port Richey Mayor Rob Marlowe, Contributing Supporter David Maharajh of Maharajh Acupuncture & Herb Shoppe, and Dell dcChant, Grower

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):

Founders and Hosts

Ecology Florida

Friendship Farms & Fare

Major Sponsor

Suncoast Credit Union

Premier Supporter

The Cultural Affairs Committee of New Port Richey

Key Contributors & Major Event Supporters

The Hook Law Group

S.I. Electric

The Rotary Club of New Port Richey

Contributing Supporters

Maharajh Acupuncture & Herb Shoppe

The Central

Wright’s Natural Market

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties

Creative Institute of Dental Arts

Rose’s Bistro Off Main

NewsPortRichey

Participating Supporters

New Port Richey FarmNet

Environmental Committee of the City of New Port Richey

East Madison Growers Club

Grand Gardens

New Port Richey Public Library

Tasty Tuesdays

Parks & Recreation Department of the City of New Port Richey

ALSO

The Nature Coaster – Promoter

Green Dreams  – Featured Nursery

Creative Institute of Dental Arts – Material Donor                                  

Rose’s Bistro – Formative Contributor and Original Host

Coastal Rental – Material Donor

Grand Gardens – Featured Harvesters

East Madison Growers – Featured Harvesters

Joan Nelson Hook – Friend of the Loquat

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?

Yes!

The Florida Loquat Festival’s 7th Anniversary

March 21, 2020

We are already planning next year’s festival, with a tentative date of March 21, 2020 (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 2020, 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 that there are no vendor fees.  We feature loquat products only.  If you make something with loquats you are welcome to attend.  Please contact us for an application and registration materials.

We also are committed to a healthy and supportive economic culture, with vendors (our partners) encouraged (but not required) to share a portion of their income with the festival – if they are successful.  We have been told, “that won’t work.”  Well, it does, with nearly all (80%) of all our partners sharing a portion of their success with us.    

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.  

Growers’ Update I

2018-2019 Season Report

If you were growing loquats in the 2018-2019 season, your harvest was probably very heavy.  That was the case for the groves at Friendship Farms & Fare and East Madison Gardens & Groves – our two main loquat orchards.

One of the harvesting teams for the 2019 festival

Winter was mild in New Port Richey and vicinity in 2019. There were no freezes and ample rain.

Other growers in the area reported no damage to their fruit, and a substantial harvest – more than in recent years. In New Port Richey, per se, and the more urbanized areas nearby, the fruit was thick on the trees.  Several growers reported that they had never seen so much fruit.

By mid-February, we noticed significant ripening, which continued on up to and through the date of the festival.  During the week leading up to the festival, harvesting teams worked every day and often long into the night. All the trees in the main orchards had ripe fruit, and we observed ripe fruit on trees around the region.  The total harvest before the festival was over 1,000 pounds, and there was enough fruit on hand to satisfy festival goers.

Notably, the harvest continued for another month after the festival, with our main orchard yielding an additional 200 more pounds.  The harvest finally came to an end in late April, although there was still fresh fruit as late as early May.

All told, harvests associated with the Florida Loquat Festival 2019 summed to approximately 1,500 pounds.  Directors estimate that another 1,000 pounds could have been harvested if more harvesters were available.  

Growers’ Update II

2019-2020 Season Report

First Buds Appear June 8, 2019

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 begin appearing later this month, if they have not already appeared.

Our first buds appeared on June 8 this year. This is much earlier than last year, and one of the earliest buddings in our records.  Last year, the first bud did not appear until July 2.

With buds now or soon 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, and we have seen a few already.  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 bearing fruit for two to three months.  

The first fruitlings appear a little more than a month after the 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 28 trees in our orchards.  We look forward to another prosperous 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.  In 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.  

Dubbed “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), six have matured into a little collection of saplings about three feet high with unusually large leaves.

Loquat Archives

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 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.  

https://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.

LOQUAT SUNSET – Joey Hedger

Vision blurs further out

over the Gulf

of Mexico (does it burn

your eyes?) no

it’s soft, the loquat dots

forming a pocked expression

of the day’s end—

I dreamt of a bedroom ceiling

fan, its loquat leafblades, twirling

like dancers, and the wallpaper

a living organism, my hand

frozen in Sistine reach—

(what now, if all things end?)

The old bloom sets,

a collapsing sun over

the Gulf, and suddenly orange

is all that I can see.

– Awarded first-place in the 2019 Loquat Literary Festival, to be published with other loquat literary works from the festival in Leaves of Loquat, Vol. 5, 2019. Reserve a copy in advance.

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Established 2014

Next Year’s Festival March 21, 2020

Founded and Hosted by

   

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

https://www.ecologyflorida.org/

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