Monday, June 7, 2021

Thank You to the vendors, volunteers, and customers who made this tree sale a success

 The 2021 Manatee Rare Fruit Council Fruit Tree Sale took place on May 16, through the efforts of

many club members. Payments from vendors are still coming in, so we don’t have the final numbers.

But despite a pandemic and a tree shortage, the sale was successful enough to ensure the continue

financial soundness of the MRFC.

There was no shortage of customers, despite the change in location, but there was a shortage of

trees to sell. Eight (eight!) vendors from 2019 did not participate in this year’s sale, for an assortment

of reasons. Some have retired from the business, some had covid concerns, and some--- including

two of our medium-sized vendors who dropped out in the week before the sale--- were unable to

obtain enough inventory due to the ongoing shortage of trees. Three new vendors joined the sale.

Our new citrus vendor was mostly cleaned out in the first hour. Next time, he will know to bring more


In addition, some of our regular vendors had diminished inventory. One of our longstanding vendors

brought 130 fewer trees than in 2019, just due to difficulty obtaining wholesale trees.

Despite these challenges, vendors were selling and customers were buying. We had excellent

weather, warm but not very humid. The personnel that we worked with at the Premier Sports Campus

did a fine job, helping us plan the layout and traffic patterns, lining the sale area according to our

specifications, and providing water for thirsty plants on sale day. They also recommended a local

company to provide uniformed security, who directed traffic and kept it flowing smoothly and safely.

Many people helped make the sale happen. The Board is responsible for planning and overseeing

the sale, and put in many hours over the course of the past year. Tree sale veteran Donna Gretton

helped with the site selection and layout, in addition to her usual contribution of lining up and

contracting the vendors, and helping them prepare for sale day. Always a major task, organizing the

vendors was especially complex due to the many changes implemented this year.

The all-important publicity effort involved many volunteers to execute our 14-point plan. In

alphabetical order: Raleigh Barnes, Michael Jaster, Michael Kohlmann, Joshua Starry, and Celeste

Welch, plus the many club members who shared information about the sale on social media---

probably our most powerful means of spreading the word.

Hats off to Michael Jaster, together with our friends from Palma Sola, the Suncoast Beekeepers, and

the Master Gardeners, who were front and center at the MRFC Information Booth providing all

manner of knowledge to many customers.

Several others contributed in various ways, including a couple of dozen members who signed up to

help on sale day. We greatly appreciate all who turned out. We now have a better understanding of

the sale day needs. In this location and sale format, volunteer help is especially needed for setup

from 7 to 9 AM.

The Board is collecting feedback from vendors and customers, and we will seek to make any

adjustments we can in order to make the sale better. So far, most of the feedback has been very

positive. We’ll report on the final numbers, the feedback, and our final thoughts next month.