Articles written by Darryl McCullough (unless otherwise noted)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Heavy Hitters and Scouts

I wonder whether there is any place with more great local fruit tree clubs than Florida's Suncoast, with the MRFC and Sarasota's TFSS in the heart of it. I attend at least two dozen club talks every year, and the overall quality and entertainment value of the presentations is impressive. More often than not, the talks given by club members rival the big names. With the diversity of subjects--- from how to grow a good mango, to the fascinating species of annonas, to the health benefits of eating fruits and how best to cook them---- there is something for everyone.

This spring features a lineup of heavy hitters up and down the coast, and I'm not talking about baseball spring training:

This Wednesday, February 8, the Suncoast Tropical Fruit and Vegetable Club in Nokomis hosts Noris Ledesma of the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden on "Training and Pruning a Mango Orchard to Improve Blooming and Yield in South Florida". As most of us know, any talk by the effervescent Noris is a treat. If you miss the February 8 talk, you can hear Noris at the March 28 meeting of the Tropical Fruit Society of Sarasota. The topic is not posted, but will appear at the TFSS website in due course.

February also gives you two chances to hear the famous Chris Rollins: at the MRFC meeting on the 13th, and the Tropical Fruit Society of Sarasota meeting on the 28th. The topic at both is Florida's Best Fruits For Homeowners. Retired after 40 years directing the Fruit and Spice Park in South Florida, Chris is spending this month touring the state. The great fruit tree sage and raconteur is another treat not to be missed.

As if these weren't enough, May features Jonathan Crane, famed tropical fruit tree expert and Associate Director of the Tropical Research and Education Center, speaking at the Sarasota club on May 23. Dr. Crane is a fount of knowledge on pretty much every aspect of growing tropical fruit, and always gives an enjoyable and informative talk.

All of the local clubs welcome guests, and details about the meeting times and locations can be found at the websites of these organizations: MRFC, TFSS, STFVC.

It's certainly an historic spring lineup, but let's not forget the "scouts" who find these speakers, persuade them to visit, and make the arrangements. With apologies in advance to those I am failing to credit, thanks go to Jimmy and Sally Lee (along with Scott Petersen, Ray Jones, and Wayne Clifton in recent years) at the MRFC, and Bob Thinnes at the Suncoast club. In Sarasota, the entire Board pitches in, but past and current Chairman Will Wright deserves the lion's share of the credit. When we see these volunteers at our club meetings, let's remember to thank them for putting together the speaker programs that we all enjoy.

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