Florida Loquat News
March 21, 2015
Celebrating Florida’s Urban Fruit
An Ecology Florida/Friendship Farms & Fare Annual Event
Here is Your Pre-Festival issue of the Florida Loquat News
Florida Loquat Festival: Celebrating Florida’s Urban Fruit – April 4, 2015 – Just Two Weeks Away! – 9:00 – 2:00
Market Off Main – 6241 Lincoln St – New Port Richey
Our big event is almost here. April 4 is the date of the Florida Loquat Festival, in New Port Richey. Mark your calendars, and join us for this one-of-a-kind celebration. In the meantime, please spread the word about Loquats and the festival.
Florida’s Only Loquat Festival
Maybe Only Loquat Festival in America
Did you know that the Ecology Florida Loquat Festival is the only one of its kind in the state? From what our research team has discovered, so far, it appears ours is the only loquat festival in the entire nation. Of course, loquats can grow anywhere in the state, and we hope other locales will have their own festivals in the future. For now, however, we are the only venue to learn about and celebrate this wonderful spring fruit.
Volunteers Harvest Over 200 Pounds and counting !
Over the past two weeks volunteers with Black Cat Growers, East Madison Growers, and Friendship Farms & Fare have harvested over 200 lbs. of loquats. Most of the fruit was harvested in the East Madison neighborhood of New Port Richey. The primary use of this harvest will be for jellies, jams, and compotes, prepared by in the kitchens of Black Cat Growers. We appreciate the many residents who offered the bounty of their trees to the festival.
In the next couple of weeks Nature Coast Real Food Project will begin harvesting fruit for the festival. If you’d like to volunteer with the Nature Coast group, contact us, and we’ll get you in touch with the NC folks.
Announcing This Year’s Featured Nursery
Green Plan Tree Farm in Brooksville
We have some exciting news about the featured nursery at this year’s festival: Green Plan Tree Farms of Brooksville, Florida. In early February, we visited Green Plan and met with managers, Steve and Joan Marie. We were amazed at the size of their loquat grove. They have at least 200 trees in their grove, which would make it one of the largest groves (if not the very largest) in this part of the state – and maybe the entire state.
Steve reports that he will have a wide selection of trees at the festival, including several hundred young trees 1 to 2 feet tall, and twenty-five from 3 to 8 feet tall. Many of the larger trees are already bearing fruit. Here is Steve’s estimate of the trees he’ll have at the festival.
100 pint seedlings 6 inches tall
300 1 gallon 1ft tall
75 1 gal 2ft tall
7 3 gal. 3ft tall
3 3 gal. 4ft tall
1 7gal. 5ft tall
1 7gal. 6ft tall
13 15gal. 6 to 8ft tall full heads fruit bearing
Green Plan offers U-Pick opportunities, but unfortunately the ripe fruit was damaged in the recent freeze. They will probably have enough for a U-Pick later this month. In the meantime, if you are looking for a quality tree for your yard, garden, or farm, be sure to stop by the Green Plan sale areas at the festival.
More News on the Festival
Information Cards Available We have information cards available for distribution. If you know of locations where a small number of cards could be left, please let us know. We’ll share some with you, or have someone drop them off. You’ll find images of the cards in this edition of the news. Feel free to print them yourself and share with others. So far, we’ve placed cards at these locations:
Urban Place Apartments
Temple Terrace Public Library
Chuck’s Natural Food Store (Tampa location)
New Port Richey
Market Off Main
Starbucks Coffee Shop
Got A Loquat Poem? This year’s festival program includes a celebration of loquat literature – “O! Loquat!” The program will present short literary offerings (poems, narratives, prose poems) about loquats or prominently featuring the fruit or tree. We’ll use an open mic format on the day of the event. We’re excited about this addition! Here is a link to an announcement on the literary event: http://newsportrichey.org/2015/01/14/loquat-festival-seeks-literary-reading-submissions/
All readers are welcome! Official readings begin at 1:00, and will be limited to the first 20 readers who sign up at the festival. The readings must be no more than two minutes (about 300 words). Overflow readings are possible, after 2:00. To sign in, contact Wendy Buffington at the site when you arrive. With authors’ permission, readings may be included in future publications of Loquat News. Stay tuned, for more on this new addition to the festival. By the way, what rhymes with Loquat (besides Kumquat)?
Kovaleski On Program We are delighted to announce that renown permaculturalist and urban homesteader, Jim Kovaleski, will be participating in the festival. Jim will be on the program (see below), and share insights about loquat cultivation and the contributions of loquat trees to a Florida food forest. He’ll also do a presentation on drying loquats. If we are fortunate, Jim might still have a few ripe Christmas loquats from his famous tree at Freedom House in the Sims Grant neighborhood of New Port Richey. Jim’s participation was not confirmed soon enough to make it onto the information cards, so please make note of it now.
Special Announcement at the Festival The festival will feature an announcement about the inauguration of a new project whose mission is to enrich local economies and local ecologies. Complete details are yet to be finalized, but they will be by festival day. If you are interested in the how we might rebuild a healthy ecology and economy, you’ll want to be sure to be present for this part of the program. Like Kovaleski’s participation, this special announcement was not confirmed soon enough to make it onto the cards, so we wanted to be sure you were aware.
“Loquat Exclusive” This is a “Loquat Exclusive” event, so everything being shared (for sale, contribution, or gift) will be a loquat or loquat-derived product. The planners made an intentional decision to keep the focus of the event squarely on the celebration of this often overlooked, ignored, trivialized, and dismissed tree and its luscious fruit. For this festival, the loquat is nobility, and it will be treated as such. There will be no competition for it on this day.
At the festival, you won’t find clowns and Ferris wheels, cotton candy and commercial snacks, flea market treasures and imported toys. You won’t find other fruits and vegetables. You certainly won’t find citrus. This is a loquat-exclusive event, intended to celebrate a wonderful tree and its delightful fruit.
What to Look For We will have seeds, seedlings, young plants, large plants, fresh fruit, jellies, jams, and pies. No citrus here. We will also have lectures and educational events on planting, cultivating and harvesting; eating, preserving, and recipes; and the history and cultural context of loquats. Finally, this year, we will have loquat literary offerings (see notice, above).
Know Any Trees ? If you have a loquat tree that volunteers can harvest for the festival, please let us know your location (and phone number); we’ll make arrangements for the harvest in season. Getting a “stable” of trees is very important to the festival – this year and beyond.
Still Time to Volunteer We are so thankful for the many folks who have stepped forward to volunteer at the festival. If you would like to volunteer to assist with the event, please let us know. At present, our interest is in folks who could help with tree-spotting, and assisting with harvesting in advance of the event.
In you would like to assist in a general way, contact the festival planners at the Loquat FB page:
If you would like to assist, specifically with the harvest in advance of the festival, contact Nature Coast Real Food Project at their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/naturecoastrealfoodproject
To assist with the preparation of loquat preserves, contact Black Cat Growers, at their FB page:
Aiming For Abundance This year we are aiming to have even more loquat materials than last year. As some may remember, the festival was such a huge success, that we ran out of some items very early, and nearly everything by the end of the event. We were well prepared for a smallish event, but not for the hundreds who attended. This year we are aiming for abundance, with hundreds of trees, thousands of loquats, and at least 100 preserves. We are also hoping to have a lot of pies.
We are enthused about this year’s program. There are some late additions not found on the promotion cards, so use this for your planning. Here it is:
Welcome and Introduction, Dell deChant, Ecology Florida
The Journey of the Loquat (origins and history), Shelby Smith and Brittany Connolly
USF Religious Studies and FARM
Loquat Cultivation and Permaculture Applications
Jim Kovaleski, Freedom House Farms
Loquats in the Kitchen, Sue Andreski, Black Cat Growers Kitchen
Loquats and Culture, Dell deChant, Ecology Florida
Special Announcement: Local Economy & Local Ecology Project
Travis Morehead, Nature Coast Real Food Project
Loquat Literary Festival: “O! Loquat!” – Wendy Buffington, Facilitator
As you can well imagine, putting on the festival costs money. We are very very thankful to the many folks who have come forward to dedicate time and energy to the project. Volunteers are the lifeblood of events like this.
Financial support is also an important and necessary part of the project. We have certainly received some financial support, and we are so grateful for that. At present, it would be wonderful to receive a little more to at least cover expenses. In this spirit, we share a positive request for financial support of any sort. All supporters will be recognized at the festival, and in the festival literature.
You can donate using PayPal at the Ecology Florida website http://www.ecologyflorida.org/
You can also send a check, made out to Ecology Florida. Contributions to Ecology Florida are tax deductable. If sending a check, send to:
PO Box 596
New Port Richey, FL
Please note that the contribution is for the Loquat Festival.
* Harvesting Accelerates *
Young Trees Bear Sweet Fruit
You should find your fruit ripening nicely now, and the cool spell should bring out a little more sweetness. If you had a hard freeze (like Steve and Joan Marie at Green Plan Tree Farms) you may have lost ripe fruit.
Check your trees or those in your neighborhood for ripe fruit. So far, at Friendship Farms & Fare, we’ve harvested about 10 pounds, picking fruit on an as needed basis.
We’ve included a few images of the first harvests.
From now until the end of the season (in late April to early May) folks with trees should be able to enjoy fresh fruit. Our trees are just beautiful. The distinctive yellowish-orange hue of the loquat fruit that is one of our first harbingers of spring.
We’ve been harvesting our young old trees each week. The fruit is delicious – so the young trees are producing true to their parent. If you’ve been following the reports on our four young trees (nearly 3 years old now), you’ll remember we observed flowers and the first fruitlings late last year. We did not know if their flowers would yield fruit, but they did – after sprouting from seeds about 3 years ago. We can now report that those young trees have produced marvelous (“true”) fruit, which is sweet and firm – much earlier than we’ve been led to believe in literature on loquats.
We are using June 1st as the birthday for the young trees. That’s about the date when we being to observe a significant number of seedlings under mature trees.
One of the many benefits of the loquat is its long fruiting season, with fruit maturing over a four month period. Here at Friendship Farms & Fare, we harvest our first fruits in January and keep harvesting through April. Even now our trees as many tiny new fruitlings as they do mature fruit.
Besides the abundant fruit appearing, the trees are now putting forth new growth. On your trees or those in your vicinity, look for radiant virescent leaves, soft and tender to the touch, with sharp tips pointing to the heavens. This is another way the loquat signals the approach of spring.
A Brief Look Back at the Inaugural Festival
For new subscribers, here are a couple of stories about last year’s festival from in the local press (just click on the links):
Trees for Sale
If you are interested in acquiring loquat trees, send us a message. We have small trees (seedlings in half-gallon pots), a number of medium trees (2-4 feet) and a several large trees (4-6 feet).
Your interest and support of the Florida Loquat Festival is appreciated. We continue to add new subscribers, and we look forward to adding more in the weeks leading up to the festival. Please share this newsletter with others you know.
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.