Florida Loquat News #38 – March 2020

Mar 03, 2020 No Comments by

Florida Loquat News #38

The Newsletter of The Florida Loquat Festival

No. 38

March 4, 2020

Celebrating Florida’s Urban Fruit

An Ecology Florida/Friendship Farms & Fare Annual Event

LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY

Seventh Annual Florida Loquat Festival

March 21, 2020

9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

(Educational Program 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.)

Frances Avenue Park ~ New Port Richey, Florida

Mark Your Calendars

A bunch of fruit sitting on top of a treeDescription automatically generated

Glamour Shot

Harvest Season Arrives

Here is a beautiful ripe cluster of fruit from Friendship Farms in New Port Richey.

Here Comes The 2020 Festival

The seventh annual Florida Loquat Festival is fast approaching.  This is the only Loquat Festival in the United States and features the largest collection on loquat trees for sale in the state, the only loquat literary festival in the USA, and (new this year) the only Loquat Art Show in the country.

The Festival also offers the largest collection on loquat food products anywhere.  Look for jams, jellies, preserves, cookies, scones, tea, breads – all made from loquats.

Join loquat fans from around the nation on Saturday March 21, 2020 at Frances Avenue Park in New Port Richey.  This year’s festival will feature new experiences and expressions of loquat food and culture.  Read on for full details.

Educational Program

The educational program is 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with the sixth annual Loquat Literary Festival from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.  The educational program will have new contributors this year, along with some regular favorites. We are still working out details, but we expect to hear about loquat tea and loquat beer, the forgotten art and science of grafting loquats, the contribution of loquats and the festival to the quality of life in New Port Richey, and the role loquats in the local art scene.

New Event for 2020

First Ever Loquat Art Festival

As noted, we have some new additions to the festival this year.  Most notably, and most exciting: The first ever loquat art festival. Artists from around the region will display works that feature loquats. Only loquat art will be accepted for the show.  Application deadline is fast approaching – March 7.  See Florida Loquat Festival Facebook page for application.  Artists can sell their work and all artist work will be eligible for prizes.  

Harvest Forecast for 2020

Heavy Yield – Early Harvest

March 1, 2020

Loquat growers and those involved in the loquat food-production industry have begun the 2020 harvest.  Prospects for a large harvest are getting better by the day as the early harvests have been large.  It also looks like the fruit will come in a bit early this year – especially due to the record-breaking heat and prolonged above normal high temperatures throughout the winter.

The harvest season has definitely begun, with ripe fruit appearing on many trees around central Florida. In New Port Richey and the surrounding area, about 25% of the trees have harvestable quantities of fruit, and about 40% of all trees have some ripe fruit.

The cover image for this issue of the News features a representative fruit cluster. Beautiful!  These are from one of the major contributing groves – Friendship Farms in New Port Richey.  Folks at the groves have been harvesting early fruit for a couple of weeks.  

Typically, loquat trees produces fruit in clusters of 5 to 8 fruit, although you may find 10 or more in the cluster.  Notably, in many cases, and unlike the “glamor shot” on the cover, not all fruit ripens at the same time, and clusters may have a single ripe fruit, with others in various stages of ripening – and even green ones.

If we can avoid a hard freeze (below 27 degrees), we should have a fine harvest. The latest date for a freeze in our area is March 3.  If you have trees, take a moment and check to see if your fruit is ripe. Look for yellow and orange fruit.

Remember: with Loquats the darker the color, the sweeter the fruit.  Bright yellowish fruit tends to be tart.  Darker orange colored fruit tends to be sweet. Don’t be put off by freckles or brown streaks, those are typically tip offs of very ripe and very sweet fruit – loquat are a bit like bananas in that regard.

Quiz: Which bowls of loquats are the ripest?

(tip: compare with adjacent bananas)

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The Whole Cycle

Loquats bud, flower, fruit, and produce ripe fruit at over an extended growing season.  They begin to flower as early as late spring continue to bud and flower through summer into early fall, with fruitlings appearing in the fall, and  ripe fruit beginning in mid-January and continuing all the way through to early June.  

This extended period of fruiting is remarkable and yet another example of this kind tree’s incredible generosity.  

The Florida Loquat Festival’s 7th Anniversary

March 21, 2020

News, New Features, and Opportunity to Participate

This year’s Florida Loquat Festival will be 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.

Here is a link to Frances Avenue Park:

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

There are new additions planned for 2020.  Here are some of the details and opportunities.

Volunteers Welcomed 

If you would like to volunteer to assist in setting up the event or on the day of the festival, please let us know as soon as possible.  You can contact us at mdechant@tampabay.rr.com .

Harvesters and Harvest Donors Our greatest desire is for volunteers to assist with harvesting the fruit – especially the week before the event.  Fruiting was very heavy last year, and we had abundant fruit for the event.  Fruiting looks very good as of the end of February. We are alert to the impact of climate change on all natural systems, so we’ll be prepared for any eventuality. We will set our expectations high, and plan for a cool winter and mild spring, with  plenty of fruit for this year’s festival.  Let us know if you’d like to share in the adventure of harvesting.

Included in our high expectations and positive plans is having plenty of volunteers stepping forward to assist. Let us know if you’d like to help.  Everyone is welcome. We also share a special welcome folks who will donate the harvest of their trees.  Contact information is last in the News. You can also email your information to, Marilynn deChant  mdechant@tampabay.rr.com.

Canners Sought 

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 in 2020. Every year there are more preserves than the previous year, and every year all are sold before the festival is over – last year nearly 800 jars were sold by seven different partners!  

Needless to say, this is a great way to supplement one’s income.  In fact, for those who are diligent, a considerable amount of money can be made.  

There are no fees for loquat vendors, canners, or bakers.  If you are making food products from loquats, or sharing fresh fruit, please join us.  All income received is yours. We will be very happy to receive a percentage donation (maybe 10%) from your sales, if you are successful.  Most of our partners (“vendors”) do share a donation – and we are most appreciative of those who care to share.  

If you plan to join us, please contact us as soon as possible to reserve your space.

Poets and Writers Called 

2020 will mark the sixth year of the Florida Loquat Literary Festival. Here is the official call, published in several literary venues:


The Florida Loquat Festival is seeking one-page poetry or prose submissions for a reading held at Frances Avenue Park in New Port Richey, Florida on March 21, 2020. We welcome all styles and forms as long as loquats are the subject or central image. Submissions are open to all writers and not restricted to professional poets.

We encourage and welcome submissions from anyone who wishes to participate. There will be prize packages awarded to first ($200), second ($100), and third place ($50).  Awards will also include publication in Leaves of Loquat, and other small complimentary favors.


All authors are invited to read at the event in beautiful Frances Avenue Park and will be published in the annual chapbook, 
Leaves of Loquat, which will be presented in the winter during a public event. Lastly, any time remaining after the reading will be open to the public for an open mic where all ages and levels of experience are welcomed and encouraged to participate.

Deadline is March 6, 2020.


Writers can submit two poems. If making more than one submission, send both in a single document. Include brief bio sharing your writing experience/ publications, if any, to 
dechant@usf.edu.

You can also mail submissions to Friendship Farms & Fare, PO Box 596, New Port Richey, FL 34655-0596.  Deadline March 6, 2020. Accepted submissions notified upon acceptance.

Literary Festival Sponsors 

If you are interested in sponsoring the Florida Loquat Literary Festival, contact Marilynn deChant mdechant@tampabay.rr.com.

Live Music 

The 2020 festival will include live music. Planners are close to making a decision on the talent.  Watch for more information in the next issue of the News.

Local Loquat Beer and Tea 

Patrons last year raved about the Loquat Tea from New Port Richey’s White Heron Tea and Gifts and the locally brewed Loquat beer from the Cotee River Brewing Company.  We are expecting to have tea again this year, and we are already telling harvesters to set aside plenty for fruit for loquat beer.

Loquat Art Show 

As noted earlier, look for the first ever Loquat Art Show at this year’s festival.  If you are an artist or know an artist whose work is appropriate for the show, contact either of the curators: Sarah Hanson hanson.sarahc@gmail.com or Marilynn deChant mdechant@tampabay.rr.com. All media is welcome so long as loquats are featured.   The show will run continuously throughout the festival and we will have art being created by artists during the show.

Art Show Sponsors 

If you are interested in sponsoring the Florida Loquat Art Festival, contact Marilynn deChant mdechant@tampabay.rr.com.

Trees 

We will have trees galore and new varieties this year The festival would not be complete without a wide assortment of trees.  It also would not be the same without our featured nursery, GreenDreams.

This year’s festival will feature trees, from seedlings and saplings to large trees. Our major focus will be a wide array of grafted trees and seedlings offered by GreenDreams – A Sustainable Solutions Company. GreenDreams is a major force in the sustainable food and culture movement, offering a wide assortment of organic fruit trees, suitable for Florida growing We encourage folks to visit GreenDreams’ website, and see all their offering https://www.greendreamsfl.com/

GreenDreams has been a mainstay of the festival for many years. As the festival’s primary nursery, this year it will 0ffer its widest selection yet of high-quality named varieties.  

All told, this will likely be the largest collection of loquat trees for sale in the USA. We should have close to 300 trees this year, at least 200 coming from GreenDreams. These will include some well-known favorites, including these varieties:

  • Premier
  • Golden Nugget
  • Bradenton
  • Oliver
  • Champagne
  • Sherry
  • Yehuda

We are particularly pleased to have the hard-t0-find Yehuda again this year.  This is the third year we have been able to make it available and GreenDreams’ proprietor, Pete Kanaris, reports that he’ll have a good supply.  Pete may also have the very popular Christmas loquat at the festival.

Pete will also have some entirely new varieties this year.  Numbers of these new cultivars will be limited, so come early for best selection.  Of special note, and new this year, will be some of the less common varieties: Novak, Avri, Wolf, and Pelchue.  As with all other products at the festival, please come early for best selection and highest volume.  

Most of the grafted trees from GreenDreams have fruit on them this year.  3-gallon trees are 3-4 feet tall and slim (for $45).  7-gallon trees are 4-6 feet tall and full (for $65).   GreenDreams will also have seedlings (for $5).

We are also delighted to have Pete Kanaris on the program again this year, addressing the role of fruit trees in a sustainable, comprehensive food system on residential and commercial properties.

Grafting Demonstration and Programming Feature

Welcome, Austin Barnhill. For years, folks have asked Pete and festival organizers for more information and a little how-to on grafting loquats.  We are happy to satisfy those requests this year, with a special guest: Pete’s friend and colleague, Austin Barnhill of Barnhill Farms and Nursery.  

Once a well-known and fairly common practice, grafting today is largely a forgotten art.  As with so many other traditional agrarian practices, there is new and renewed interest in grafting and the festival is delighted to offer a platform for learning about this vital part of sustainable food systems.

Austin is an experienced grafter and will be demonstrating grafting art throughout the festival at the GreenDreams sales area.  We will also feature Austin on the program.  So, all who have been asking about grafting are encouraged to be with us this year.

As Always The festival will include lectures on growing, harvesting, and preparing loquats.  Known and unknown specialists will present on the ways and wonders of our celebrated fruit. Various types of trees will be available from local groves and nurseries. If weather, our changing climate, our local trees, and The Great Mother are in harmony with our schedule, we will have plenty of fresh loquats. We will certainly have all manner of canned loquats: jellies, jams, compotes, canned halves and slices.

Savory Loquat Treats

Something New This Year 

Westside Deli, will offer samples of savory loquat dishes.  Westside Deli is a favorite New Port Richey restaurant committed to using locally-grown, seasonal, organic produce whenever possible.  Most loquat products are designed to accentuate the fruit’s sweetness – as with the various preserves, cakes, cookies, and beverages.  Bob and Deb Morris, Westside’s proprietors, have another loquat story to tell – a savory one!  They are keeping details  of their treats a surprise, but like everything else from Westside Deli, we are sure it will memorable. Visit Westside Deli’s website for more information about their menu, mission, and specials. https://thewestsidedeli.net/ 

Promotions and Related Loquat Specials

During the Festival and for the rest of March:

 

Loquat Beer

Cotee River Brewing Company

5760 Main St, Port Richey, FL 34652

(727) 807-6806

 

Loquat Smoothies

Wright’s Natural Market

5800 Main St, New Port Richey, FL 34652

(727) 848-5140

 

Loquat Tea

The White Heron Tea and Gifts

6228 Grand Boulevard

New Port Richey, Florida 34652

(727) 203-3504

info@thewhiteheronfl.com

 

Tentative Program Schedule

Here is a peak at a draft of the program for 2020.  This is not yet final, so please don’t use it for planning, but we are pretty close.  A final version of the program will appear in the next issue of Loquat News.

10:00 Welcome and Greetings

         Florida Loquat Day: Proclamation, New Port Richey Mayor Rob Marlowe

         Endorsements by our Sponsor and Supporters

10:30         Loquats in the Kitchen – Bob and Deb Morris, Westside Deli 

11:00 Loquat Brews: Local Tea and Local Beer – Kelly Hackman

11:30 Loquat Grafting Demonstration – Austin Barnhill

12:00 Loquats and the Artist: art in the community, art by the community, art of the community – Sarah Hanson

12:30 Loquat Songs – Dr. Roy Kaplan

12:45 Loquats and Food Sovereignty – Dell deChant

1:00 Loquat Literary Festival  

The Mission of Florida Loquat Festival

The Florida Loquat Festival is an annual agrarian event in New Port Richey, Florida, demonstrating food sovereignty in this unique place in the world, celebrating its highest yielding fruit tree, affirming its local food system, and commending the people who have made a commitment to all three.

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.

In this way, the Loquat Festival harmonizes with other seasonal food celebrations in New Port Richey, including the Okra Occasion in late summer, the Sweet Potato Round-Up in the fall, and the Winter Harvest Festival in early to mid-winter.  

We do not aim to make the events bigger and bigger every year (although they all continue to grow in attendance and vendors), we aim to make them better and better very year.  Unlike many other festivals in Florida, our aim is not to make these festivals a distraction, a carnival, a concert venue, or a flea market.  Rather, through these festivals we seek to rediscover the sources of our existence – our seasons, our local food system, the place we call home, and our neighbors – humans, animals, and plants.  

A group of people posing for a pictureDescription automatically generated

One of the harvesting teams for the 2019 Festival

Hard Copy of the News

 $5.00

Several folks have asked about acquiring hardcopies of Florida Loquat News. We usually do a run of 100 copies for promotional purposes. They go quickly.  

If you would like to sponsor the publication, please let us know.  Contact us throhg our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FloridaLoquatFestivalNewPortRichey/

If you desire individual copies, contact us through the website. Suggested donation is $5.00, and we’ll send it to your mailing address.  To order your copy and send donation, use our mailing address:

Ecology Florida

PO Box 596

New Port Richey, FL 34656-0596

Commercial Potential of Loquats

We are convinced that there are real 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 exist, and it is quite clear 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.

By the way, did you know that you can make wine, tea, and beer from loquats?  We are now in contact with some local artisans working on formulas to craft just such libations.

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.   If you are interested in supporting the Florida Loquat Festival, contact Marilynn deChant mdechant@tampabay.rr.com.

Subscribe to Loquat News and Tell a Friend

News about loquats is starting to circulate. To keep up with what’s going on, subscribe to Loquat News, the only publication dedicated exclusively to Loquats – Florida’s Urban Fruit!  

Go to the Loquat Festival Facebook page to sign up for Loquat News. If you know

others who might like to learn about loquats and our festival, send them the link.  

We publish Loquat News three to five times a year.  The News has updates on the seasonal progression of the trees, and planning for the festival.  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.

Go to the Loquat Festival Facebook page and let us know your email address and we’ll add you to the mailing list.

Loquat Archives

Sponsor Sought

We have compiled a booklet with archival articles on the loquat in Florida.  The booklet will contain the two articles discovered by our researchers – Isabelle Krome’s 1936 article, “Loquats,” 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 will go to press on this publication as soon as we have a sponsor.  If you would like to sponsor the publication, please let us know. Contact us at the Ecology Florida web address for details: https://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.

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