The 2014 Southern Fruit
Fellowship Annual Meeting will be held in Florence, South Carolina, in the
vicinity of McKenzie Farms, South Carolina’s premier (and one of the fartherest
north on the East Coast) citrus farm. Stan McKenzie and South Carolina
Extension Service Agent Tony Melton will be our hosts. Proposed attractions are:
tours of commercial kiwi, peach, and citrus operations; a visit to Moore Farms
Botanical Garden; and presentations from a wild fruit expert and an
entomologist. Please join us! (Bring fruit).
The meeting will occur August
21st – 24th, 2014. Our central meeting spot will be the Pee Dee Research and
Education Center (PDREC) in Florence. Our designated motel is the Holiday Inn
Express in Florence, with America’s Best Value Inn as an alternate. There’s an
RV park and campground just down the road. The registration fee will be $25
per adult. Children of attendees, well, we might let them sneak in for free.
Anyone interested in fruit-growing is welcomed to join with us; we’ll try to
sign you up as a SFF member, of course (membership is only $15 per year), and,
yes, the editors will try to solicit articles from you, but membership is not
required, only an interest in learning about our mutual hobby. You’ll find some
of the South’s top experts on fruit-growing at this meeting; it’s a good place
to ask questions or find a mentor.
Below is the proposed agenda: Thursday,
August 21st Thursday afternoon, River Run Farms, a kiwi operation, will be
open for us to tour. It’s off Interstate 95, about an hour and a half south of
Florence. Since it’s so far from our venue, we’ve decided to make this an
optional tour, before the Meeting actually starts; those on the way to the
Meeting from south of Florence may want to allow time to see this operation –
anyone ever seen a commercial kiwi farm before?
We’ll congregate at the Pee
Dee Research and Education Center from 5:00 - 7:00 PM. Registration fees will
be collected there. You can also pay your dues, if you want. At 7:00 PM, we’ll
go to Petro’s Iron Skillet Restaurant for our first meal together (price of
meals is not included in the registration fee). If anyone brings any
interesting wine, mead, or cider (no moonshine) to brag on, we might sample it
later at the Holiday Inn Express.
Friday, August 22nd 8:00 AM: Leave for
Moore Farms Botanical Garden. 10:30 AM: Leave Moore Farms and head to
McKenzie Farms. 12:00 PM: Lunch at famous Schoolhouse BBQ. 2:00 PM:
Lecture on native fruits at the PDREC. 3:00 PM: Presentation from an
entomologist. 4:00 PM: Business meeting, general discussion.
August 23rd 8:00 AM: Leave for McLeod Farms, a commercial peach operation.
They have a big packing shed, blackberries, row crops, and a museum with old
cars, tractors, etc. 12:00 PM: Lunch at Big’s Restaurant near McLeod
Farms. 1:00 PM: Leave McLeod Farms. 2:00 PM: Indoor meetings at the
PDREC. 4:00 PM: Tour of McKenzie Farms. 7:00 PM: Supper at the Compass
Sunday, August 24th Go home, or hang around and talk a
while longer. Myrtle Beach is 100 miles to the southeast; some of you may wish
to visit there, lots of touristy things to do there. Eat some
seafood. Florence is a thriving little city which happens to be on the main
interstate route to the Northeast, so it’s a big stopover for travelers. SFF
has reserved a block of rooms at the Holiday Inn Express and we’ll get a slight
group discount, but there are plenty of alternate motels nearby. We encourage
you to make reservations as soon as possible, though, just to make sure. For
those flying, Florence has an airport with connections to Charlotte and
Atlanta. The Pee Dee Research and Education Center will be our central
gathering spot. They have some demonstration and experimental crops we can see,
and it’ll provide us with a nice air-conditioned place to meet during the hot
part of the day. They have an Outdoor Education Trail we may
Tours: River Run Farms, 187 River Run Drive, Vance, SC 29163;
Phone: (803) 492-9878. Commercial kiwi farm. McLeod Farms, 29247 Highway
151, McBee, SC 29101; Phone: (843) 335-8611. Large commercial peach farm with
650 acres and 22 different varieties of peaches. Has been in the family since
1916, fourth generation peach growers. They have developed their own variety,
McKenzie Farms and Nursery, 2115 Olanta Hwy., Scranton, SC 29591;
Phone: (843) 389-4831; www.mckenzie-farms.com. Vegetables and
forty different varieties of cold-hardy citrus, eucalyptus, and palms.
Farms Botanical Garden, 100 New Zion Road, Lake City, SC 29560; Phone: (843)
210-7582; http://moorefarmsbg.org. Fifty
acres of gardens that inform, inspire, and delight. By combining cutting edge
horticultural practices and rural gardening traditions, they have reinterpreted
what it means to be a Southern garden. Their mission is to promote research and
education in horticulture, agriculture, and forestry for the benefit of the
people of South Carolina and beyond.
Pee Dee Research and Education Center,
2200 Pocket Road, Florence, SC 29506; Phone: (843) 662-3526; www.clemson.edu/peedeerec. Home to
top-quality research in areas that are of particular importance to South
Carolina residents. It is an integral part of Clemson University’s Public
Service activities, including the Agricultural Research and Forestry system and
the Cooperative Extension Service, with nine resident faculty and fifty support
Florence RV Park, 1115 E. Campground Rd., Florence, SC 29506;
Phone: (843) 665-7007; www.florencervpark.com. Holiday Inn
Express, 2101 Florence Harllee Blvd., Hwy 327, Florence, SC 29506; Phone: (843)
Angela J. Barrentine, General Manager.
There is a registration form on Page
23 of the SFF newsletter. Please fill it out and send it with your payment (checks
or money orders made payable to SFF) to Larry Stephenson, P.O. Box 84,
Carrollton, MS 38917 as soon as possible. We’d like to get an idea how many will
be coming, to better prepare.
If you care to volunteer to help run this
meeting, contact Tony Melton, Florence County Extension Service, 2685 S. Irby
St., Florence, SC 29505 or by e-mail at email@example.com; or Stan McKenzie,
2115 Olanta Highway, Scranton, SC 29591,or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Larry
Stephenson, email@example.com. We’ll
probably need a few helpers to get folks registered and pass out maps and
directions and such.
If there is any SFF business anyone cares to discuss,
or any questions, this is the place to bring it. If any member has a
presentation or demonstration they would like to make, let us know, so we can
schedule an appropriate time. We should have ample time at the PDREC for group
discussions. I think most of these growers experienced some damage from the
severe cold we enjoyed last winter; for those of us in SFF, it’ll be interesting
to see how they have pruned/repaired/replanted.
The Pee Dee Region is warmish
in August; those of you from cooler climates had best bring their short
to the August 9, 2012
The 2012 annual meeting of the Southern
Fruit Fellowship was held Thursday evening,
August 9, 2012through Saturday
August 11, 2012in and around the south
On Thursday night there was an
informal time of fellowship beginning around in the hotel breakfast area. Members brought lots of
and fruit products for the group to sample while we visited and shared our
experiences.Some also brought plants and
cuttings to share with others. The details for the conference were handed out
at that time.
On Friday morning the group
participated in the Muscadine Field Day held at the USDA McNeil Stationwhich
is a muscadine repository containing 35-40 different muscadine cultivars.We were able to taste the various varieties and check the data on
their production that the station has kept over the years.They are also doing research on pomegranates, blackberries and
blueberries . We will go to the Thad Cochran Southern
Horticulture Lab in Poplarville for lunch and talks with the scientists and
station personnel that are conducting research at the stations.After the tour in Poplarville, we toured the Crosby Arboretum in
Picayune which is the premier native plant conservatory in the southeast.
All Pictures courtesy of
All above Pictures courtesy of
Fall Flower & Garden Fest
The 2012 Fall Flower & Garden Fest was held Friday
and Saturday, October 5 & 6, at the Truck Crops Experiment Station in
Crystal Springs, Mississippi. Crystal Springs is about 25 miles south of
Jackson. Hours are from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. both days and food vendors will have
food and drinks available.
This is the largest home gardening show in the Southeast.
Average attendance is 6,000 people over the two-day event. Admission and parking
are free. The garden, grounds, seminars, and one of the tour wagons are
On October 5th,
my wife and I attended the 34th
Annual Fall Flower and Garden Fest at the Truck Crops Branch Experimental
. In case you don’t know, this is
about the largest garden show in the Southeast, this year welcoming almost 4,000
people. There are dozens of exhibits to see, plant and nursery vendors, sample
plots of vegetables and ornamentals, and short seminars on all facets of
gardening. There’s something for pretty much everyone on display. Those
not attending missed a really good show. Need
another reason to go? Southern Fruit
) always has a booth there – it’s become sort of a second Annual Meeting for
many of us. We sign on new members,
put on grafting demonstrations, display some of our fruit, sell a few plants,
arrange some scion trading, and generally have a good time doing what we like
best – talking about fruit trees. Got
a new fruit to brag on? Need
something identified? This is the
place to bring it.
Last year was the first time I attended – really the
first time I’d met any fellow
members. I had been in
several years and was eager to meet some of those folks who wrote such
fascinating articles in the newsletter. I
was welcomed and had a grand time discussing fruit cultivation. Don’t forget
the important part of our name – we are a FELLOWSHIP, like-minded individuals
united by our common interest. It’s
to talk about fruit trees, and rare to find a large group of people who will
not only tolerate our interest, but share it. I
was even inspired to begin writing myself.
This year I wore a nametag and got to work along with
members.My assigned duty was to
entertain visitors while Carol Smith and Bonnie Thompson did the real work,
setting up our displays and our membership sign-up table. This
suited me to a tee – I really don’t need much encouragement to talk about my
hobby, so I had a blast. Now, I’m
hardly a novice at fruit growing, but neither can I claim to be any kind of
expert (not if I am cruelly judged by the amount of fruit produced). Though
I may not know the answer to every question, I am usually not shy about giving
my opinion. Here are some of the
questions I was asked:
What is this weird fruit that
look like a big green brain? Can I eat it? Osage orange (Bois d'Arc) . Nope.
Can I grow blueberries here? You
betcha ! Everyone should have some in their yard.
How can I keep deer away from my
trees? Fence them, or shoot
What kind of persimmon is this?
(Point to Mr. Jesse Thompson.)
How can pomegranates be
propagated? (Point to Dr.
What’s a good pear for this
area? (Point to Ron Hill.)
Is it hard to graft?
(Point to the table where Billy Smith, Larry Force, Ron Hill, Norm Herrin, and a
couple other members are giving demonstrations.)
(I did a lot of pointing.)
I have a really old pear tree in
my yard that makes a big crop of soft eating pears every year. Can you tell me
what kind it is? Nope, but
get that lady’s e-mail and address; I’m always interested in an unusual
pear. Make sure she gets our flyer;
she’s the kind of member we need.
And so it went, all day. Pretty
cool, huh? I believe I could be well employed as a salesman at a large nursery. I
was surprised at how many folks stopped at our tables; there was a constant
stream of people interested in our exhibits. Mrs.
Bonnie and Mrs. Carol signed up a good many new members. This
show is one of our most lucrative recruiting spots.
Any time there’s a group of people discussing fruit,
well, that’s where I’m going to be, so I really didn’t see as much of the
other exhibits as I would have liked. My
wife, Jenniffer, and I did make a quick tour of the grounds. Don’t
pack a lunch for this show; there are plenty of food vendors and you can eat
very well. There were people selling
all kinds of stuff for gardening and horticulture – irrigation equipment,
greenhouses, pruning supplies, you name it, and also many craftsmen and small
nurseries. I did notice one trend
that I approve – many nurseries offered native ornamental plants and seeds, in
a huge and pleasing variety. I
suppose with all the floods and droughts we have nowadays, gardeners have had to
turn to our tough and durable native specimens.
There were lots of experts on hand, giving tours of
the station, classes, and seminars. Of
course, the Truck Branch Experimental Station is pretty much a
for those interested in ornamental plants or vegetable gardening. If
you care to see all the different varieties of tomatoes or string beans that
exist, well, there they are, all laid out and labeled in immaculately tended
rows. It’s quite a display. These
are more than sample plots; MSU does serious research here.
Could the Fallfest be improved? Sure,
next year YOU could join us at the Southern Fruit Fellowship booth; you’ll
find it worth the trip, I promise. Bring fruit! The
bigger and more exotic, the better. We
like to open people’s eyes as to what can be grown, and this is a good place
to do some bragging to an appreciative audience. Many
heartfelt thanks to Dr. Rick Snyder and all the hard-working staff at the
research station who make this show possible each year. See you next year!
A Note from Jenniffer:
Although I’m not as nutty about fruit trees as my
husband, Larry, I do enjoy watching him enjoy his hobby. I
have watched his interest and participation grow with the Southern Fruit
)as well, and he’s right – it has been a great fellowship.I attended last year’s Fall Flower and Garden Fest with my husband, met
some of the other
members, and perused the grounds of the MSU Truck Branch Experimental Station.We strolled through the vendor booths and viewed some of the vegetation
that MSU was cultivating and enjoyed some great food.This year was no different in that regard, but we also got to enjoy
spending some more time with our fellowship of fruit tree fanatics that we had
become closer with.They have become
like an extended family, many of them older than us and giving sage advice from
their years of failures and successes growing fruit trees.This year, we arrived a bit earlier with Larry being eager to see his
fruit tree buddies and be part of the learning experience for those passing by
the exhibit tables.I stood and
watched him congregate with fellow
members and visitors as they talked about their hobbies and interests like some
discuss their love of hunting, fishing, or football.But I also looked at the day’s program of events, and decided that I
would attend the Garden Mama’s Organic Strategies program.I have been listening to Nellie Neal, better known as Garden Mama, on the
radio for years.I listen to her
give gardening advise to other listeners, and I have even called in and asked my
own questions or given advice to some of her other listeners.I was glad to finally meet her in person and hear her presentation.
Well, to wrap
up my impressions of this year’s Fall Flower and Garden Fest, I’ll just tell
you what I have told some of the other
members.My philosophy after 20
years of marriage is this:A man
with a hobby is a happy man, and I support my husband’s hobby.I may not be as interested or as involved in being outdoors or growing
fruit trees, but I can appreciate my husband’s hard work and the pleasure he
gets from his hobby.I can also
enjoy the fellowship of the other fruit tree enthusiasts he has become friends
with and count myself among their ranks.They
are a great group of people willing and ready to share their experiences and
even the fruits of their labor.Happy
Springs Fall Fest 2012
Mississippi State personnel
conducted guided tours of the flower and vegetable gardens which are planted
to be at their peak for the Garden Fest.
The large round bale
of aged hay demonstrates another way to garden. It shows how to raise
the level of gardening for people who have trouble bending. It was
placed in the AgrAbility Demonstration-Gardening Accessibility area.
There were 68
vendors at the Garden Fest. Approximately half of them were plant
vendors who packed the area with beautiful colorful plants of all varieties
One creative vendor entertained
visitors with his Gourd Banjo which he makes and sells.
This vendor hand makes
spoons, salad sets and bowls from different hardwoods found across the South.
He also uses different types of maple for his products.
The slip covers for pots make
displaying plants easier and more colorful.
There were several vendors
selling bird houses and yard art to decorate the yard.
One vendor demonstrated the
grinding of corn into cornmeal and sold fresh ground cornmeal.
There are always many food
and drink vendors with wonderful things to eat including homemade snacks.
Southern Fruit Fellowship has
had a booth at the Garden Fest for many years where members demonstrate
grafting, exhibit fruit, plants and vegetables, answer questions, sell plants
and sign up new members. A visitor views the posters showing fruit that
members have grown and pictures showing the Annual Meetings at various locations
across the South.
Photos Courtesy of Dr. Rick Snyder
American Fruit Explorers/Southern Fruit Fellowship/Citrus Expo meeting was
held November 18/19 2011 near
, with our hosts from the
Dr. Gmitter demonstrates some of the results
of his 30 year citrus breeding program
Unusual cross at Citrus Repository. Pretty
but rather tart.
Pumelo at Citrus Repository
Frank Lloyd Wright designed "sphere of
water" at Florida Southern University
Citrus Packing Plant
Citrus Packing Plant
Citrus Packing Plant
Bill Castle (hat) and Ryan Atwood explain
design of Florida Pomegranate trials