Tuesday, November 21, 2023

MRFC Traditional Holiday Potluck Dinner - RSVP Info Included

We hope that you, your friends and family will join us at the traditional Holiday Potluck Dinner with the Manatee Rare Fruit Council!

When and Where: Monday, December 11, in our usual meeting room at the Harlee Center. General arrival time is 6:30 PM. At 7:00, a brief business meeting will precede the potluck dinner.

 If you would like to come a bit earlier to help set up and socialize that would be welcomed.  Please bring a dish to share, and to help save on waste, your own plates and utensils.  We will provide water and some non alcoholic drinks.

If you would like to participate in our white elephant gift exchange, please bring one wrapped gift, value under $10.  Be creative and fun in your gift choice.  We will draw numbers to determine the order and then the fun begins.  The first player picks a gift and shares with the group.  Following players can either pick a new gift or take a previous player’s gift.

We hope to have several other fun activities, and will certainly have great food and companionship.  We hope you can join us.  If you signed up at a meeting you are set and we will see you on the 11th.   If you have not yet signed up and would like to attend, please contact Sarah at 941-725-1568, no later than December 4th, and let her know what you would like to bring and how many will be attending.

We look forward to sharing good times together!

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

November 2023 Meeting - 2024 Tree Sale Informational Meeting

Join us Monday, November 13th, 2023 at 7pm.  

Harlee Building/County Fairgrounds, 1303 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221

Our scheduled speaker for November has asked to postpone his visit so that he can focus on some important business opportunities. 

In place of a regular speaker, the Board will present information about the organization of our 2024 tree sale, scheduled for Saturday, March 23. 

This will enable those willing to volunteer to learn about the specific tasks and task areas available. Those willing to volunteer will be able to specify their available time and their task preferences in an online signup in mid-November. A written version of the signup will be available at the November meeting for those who prefer to use it rather than the online form. Volunteers’ responses to the signup will not be shared publicly. They will be used only as needed by organizers. 

We emphasize that attendees at the meeting will not be shamed, pressured, or put on the spot. The sole purpose is to help align volunteers with tasks that are most interesting or convenient for them. On the other hand, sustainability of the tree sale--- and the MRFC in its current form--- require that more of us share in the organizational effort, so the Board dearly hopes that a large number of members will step forward to learn and help out.

Members and visitors are encouraged to bring fruit items for the tasting table and plants/fruit books/etc for the raffle table.

Raffle Table Do’s (and oneDon’t) from the Board

Once in a while we like to remind people about our current raffle table policies and etiquette.

• Label your plants and provide important information. If the common name is well-known, that may be sufficient. Supply the variety name if known; if not, then perhaps some helpful information such as “dwarf banana plant” or “red-flowered hibiscus”. If the plant is non-edible, this should be noted. If it is
a seedling of a fruit like mango or avocado that is usually grafted, label it “seedling for grafting”.

• Make your item easy for the winner to transport. For example, put potted plants in plastic bags so thatthey do not leak during transport (the bag just needs to cover the container, or course). Put soft fruit in an open plastic bag or other leak-proof container so that it does not stain if it breaks open.

• Feel free to put non-plant items on the table. Usually these would be related to horticulture, but other useful items can be considered. If you are unsure whether an item is appropriate, please check with one of the MRFC officers.

Collect a free raffle ticket, if you wish, for each item you bring. These will be entered in all rounds of the raffle
(purchased tickets are entered in all except the first round).

• Bring citrus trees for the table. Florida regulations do not allow distribution (or, actually, even propagation) of citrus trees except by growers registered and approved by the Florida Citrus Nursery Stock Certification Program.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

October Meeting - Dr Ramdas Kanissery

Join us Monday, October 9th, 2023 at 7pm.

Harlee Building/County Fairgrounds, 1303 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221

Speaker: Dr. Ramdas Kanissery

Our October Speaker
From the Program Committee

Our October speaker is Dr. Ramdas Kanissery, who leads the Weed Science research and extension program at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC) in Immokalee, FL. He previously worked as a senior chemist for an environmental research and consulting organization in Maryland.

He earned his Ph.D. in natural resources and environmental sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of many scientific and expository articles on weed control, the impact of herbicide persistence and exposure on crop health and productivity, and alternative and novel weed control tools for sustainable weed management. His extension work included the dissemination of crop-safe, applicator-safe, and precision weed management practices. He also provides a statewide service for weed identification and diagnosis of herbicide phytotoxicity in conjunction with the Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic at SWFREC.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

September 2023 Meeting - Dr Matt Snow - Longans

Join us Monday, September 11th, 2023 at 7pm.  

Harlee Building/County Fairgrounds, 1303 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221

Speaker: Dr Matt Snow

From the Program Committee

Our September Speaker is Dr. Matthew Snow. He was President of the Rare Fruit Council International in Miami from 2011–2020. On his farm, Sunshine Organics in Homestead, FL, he grows many tropical fruits, including mangos, avocados, annonas, and carambola.

In 2018, Dr. Snow spoke to the MRFC about avocados. His topic in our September meeting will be longans.

When not in the world of tropical fruit horticulture, Dr. Snow is a cardiology specialist with over 37 years of experience in the medical field. He graduated from the University of Miami School of Medicine, and is affiliated with several major hospitals in the Miami area. His 
office accepts new patients and telehealth appointments.

Monday, July 24, 2023

August 2023 Meeting - Paul Zmoda - Grapes and Winemaking

 Join us Monday, August 14th, 2023 at 7pm.  

Harlee Building/County Fairgrounds, 1303 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221

Speaker: Paul Zmoda

From the Program Committee

Our August speaker will be medal-winning winemaker, microbiologist, and tropical fruit expert Paul Zmoda. Born and raised in the Northeast, Paul earned a bachelor of science degree from Delaware Valley University before moving to Florida in 1977. His microbiology career was from 1990 to 2012, and he now lives in Riverview with his wife Luisa.

After joining the Tampa Bay chapter of the Rare Fruit Council International in 1985, Paul became a noted expert on tropical fruit. He regularly reports on his latest horticultural exploits in the Tampa Bay RFCI newsletter.

Especially noteworthy is Paul’s success in growing grapes, a Mediterranean fruit that has long been a challenge to growers in Florida’s humid climate. In his presentation, he will share his knowledge on grapes and winemaking.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

MRFC July Meeting - Pollination - Dr Jonathan Crane

Link to Slides from Dr Crane's Presentation

Join us Monday, July 10th, 2023 at 7pm.  

Harlee Building/County Fairgrounds, 1303 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221

Speaker: Dr Jonathan Crane

Our July Speaker

From the Program Committee

Dr. Jonathan Crane is a Professor at the University of Florida, Associate Director of the Tropical Reseach and Education Center, and Tropical Fruit Crop Specialist for IFAS Extension. The recipient of numerous awards for professional achievements and grants for his research and extension work, he is a well-known and highly respected expert in tropical fruit horticulture. His areas of specialization include tropical and subtropical fruit production systems, mitigation of environmental plant stress, plant physiology, enhanced flowering and fruit set/pollination, and sustainable production practices.

Several of our local tropical fruit experts are graduates of Dr. Crane’s annual summer course on Tropical Fruit Production and Research, and over the years he has given a number of informative presentations in our area. At our July meeting, he will speak on pollination, one of the important ingredients of successful fruit production.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

June Meeting - Amanda Pike, PhD, ATR-BC - Creating a Kid Friendly Food Forest

 Join us Monday, June 12, 2023 at 7pm.  

Harlee Building/County Fairgrounds, 1303 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221

Speaker: Amanda Pike, PhD, ATR-BC

From the Program Committee

Our June speaker will be Amanda Pike, PhD, ATR-BC. She is a board-certified therapist, certified educational leader and owner of a two-acre, Florida permaculture farm complete with hundreds of species of edible plants, free-roaming chickens and 26 beehives. Dr. Pike serves as Education Chair and Chapter Representative for the Palm Beach County chapter of the Native Plant Society. As a local 4-H program facilitator, she helps make food forestry an accessible and practical landscaping option for the community. Her food forest currently provides an average of 70% of her family's daily meals. Her latest book, Transforming Florida Yards: A Regional Food Forest Guide, was published June 1.

At our June meeting, Dr. Pike will speak on Creating a Kid-Friendly Food Forest: how to plan and design a backyard food forest based on kid-friendly perennials that will replace groceries starting in the first year.

Monday, April 10, 2023

May 2023 Meeting - Soil Microbial Communities and Plant Health with Dr Sarah Strauss

 Join us Monday, May 8th, 2023 at 7pm.  

Harlee Building/County Fairgrounds, 1303 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221

Speaker: Dr Sarah Strauss

From the Program Committee

Dr. Sarah Strauss is an Assistant Professor at the IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, FL. She is the author of many scientific articles on soil microbiology and its applications to agriculture. Her research and extension programs are focused on examining the interactions between soil microbial communities and plant health and productivity in both citrus and vegetable crops. The goal of her applied research is to provide growers with new information and methods for managing and improving crop production and soil health using soil microbiology.

In her presentation, Dr. Strauss will discuss the concept of soil health, and how and why microbes are key components of it. She will also discuss some methods that can be used to impact soil microbes and soil health.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Manatee Rare Fruit Council Annual Rare Fruit Tree Sale - May 6th 2023

What: MRFC Rare Fruit Tree Sale

When: Saturday, May 6th, 2023, 9am-3pm

Where: Premier Sports Campus 5895 Post Blvd, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34211

This is a once-a-year opportunity to purchase rare and unusual fruiting trees and plants. 15+ vendors, outdoor event, expert advice. 

This is a great opportunity to meet experienced fruit tree growers and purchase trees, fertilizer, and possibly sample some fruit vendors may bring.

We encourage people to bring wagons to haul their chosen trees. 

The location will be the same as 2021 and 2022 - Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch. 

Print Flyers to Share

April 10th 2023 Meeting - Marshall Hartley - Citrus


Join us Monday, April 10th, 2023 at 7pm.

Harlee Building/County Fairgrounds, 1303 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221

Speaker: Marshall Hartley

From the Program Committee

Our April speaker, Marshall Hartley, is the owner of the Hartley Citrus Farm in Lake Wales, Florida.  He holds a degree in citrus and horticultural science from Florida Southern and has been a certified crop advisor for 25 years, qualifying him to be an expert witness. He has had an extensive career in many aspects of commercial citrus production and, since 2021, has been a vendor at the MRFC’s annual rare fruit tree sale. 

He will speak on proper care of citrus trees in this age of citrus greening and other challenges, focusing in particular on planting, watering, and soil and leaf nutrition. As mentioned in last month’s MRFC newsletter, he will also bring trees for sale.

Friday, March 3, 2023

MRFC March 13th 2023 Monthly Meeting - Palma Sola Botanical Park Tour and Member Discussion

 What: MRFC Monthly Meeting - Palma Sola Botanical Park Tour and Member Discussion

When: Monday March 13th, 2023 at 7pm

Where: Palma Sola Botanical Park, 9800 17th Ave NW, Bradenton, FL 34209

The next monthly meeting will be Monday, March 13th at 7pm.  Please note: this meeting will be held at Palma Sola Botanical Park, 9800 17th Ave. NW, Bradenton, Florida 34209  (yes, the same location as the January meeting). It will feature a tour of our rare fruit tree collection, and a members discussion of the maintenance of the collection.

Going to be near Melbourne, FL on April 22? You may wish to check out the Brevard Tropical Fruit Club 2023 Tree Sale.

We are now collecting membership dues for 2023.  Dues are $12 per year and can be paid for 1 or 2 years. Click here for more information about dues and to pay online.  You may also pay with cash or check (made payable to MRFC) at this or a future meeting.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

February Meeting - Chris Wenzel - All About Mangos

Join us Monday, February 13th, 2023 at 7pm

Harlee Building/County Fairgrounds, 1303 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221

Speaker: Chris Wenzel

Title: All About Mangos

From the Program Committee

Our February speaker will be Chris Wenzel, native Floridan and founder of Truly Tropical in 1999. On this 5-acre property in residential Delray Beach, she has over 200 fruit trees including over 90 varieties of mangos. Truly Tropical sells fruit and trees, mostly mangos but also avocados, carambola, sapodilla, jakfruit, sugar apple, custard apple, black sapote, jaboticaba, canistel, caimito, pitomba, and miracle fruit.

Chris will discuss how she made her dream of growing mangos a reality. This will include the history of the farm and her efforts to plant, graft and grow over 90 varieties of mangos. Chris will also talk about how new varieties of mangos are developed, and her own efforts to develop superior mango varieties. Mango varieties that originated at Truly Tropical include ‘Best’, ‘Big Jim’, Kaeli-K’, ‘Carpe Diem’ and ‘Marko’. 

Be sure to check out Chris’s YouTube channel, with many videos about all aspects of mangos and their horticulture. 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

January 2023 Meeting at Palma Sola Botanical Park - MRFC’s partners: the Master Gardeners, Transition Sarasota, and Palma Sola Botanical Park

What: MRFC Monthly Meeting - MRFC Partners

When: Monday January 9th, 2023 at 7pm

Where: Palma Sola Botanical Park, 9800 17th Ave NW, Bradenton, FL 34209

At our January monthly meeting at Palma Sola Botanical Park, we’ll
have a chance to learn more about three of the MRFC’s partners: the
Master Gardeners, Transition Sarasota, and Palma Sola Botanical Park
itself. Each of them is providing a representative to tell us about
their organization:

--- Extension Master Gardener Programs now exist in all 50 states and
the District of Columbia, several Canadian provinces, and South Korea.
We will learn more about these remarkable programs from MRFC member
and Florida Master Gardener John Dawson.

--- Transition Sarasota is a local food and community-building
non-profit that is very active in harvesting otherwise-wasted produce
for local food banks and pantries. In particular, its Suncoast Fruit
Rescue project organizes volunteers to harvest fruit from commercial
or home trees in Sarasota or Manatee Counties, with the owner, the
volunteer harvesters, and local food banks sharing the bounty.
Executive Director Joyce Norris will represent Transition Sarasota.

--- Palma Sola Botanical Park, a longtime friend of the MRFC and the
location of our rare fruit tree collection, will be represented by
Executive Director Beverly Burdette.

After the representatives give brief presentations, we’ll have a
question-and-answer session with the full panel. We hope to see you
there for this unusual opportunity to meet some of the MRFC’s