Yearning to learn about other fruit alternatives?
Photo 1: JAMAS Fruit
The annual Collier County JAMAS class is the brainchild of Dr. “Doug Bug” Caldwell, Emeritus Commercial Landscape Horticulture Agent for Collier County Extension. In his nearly 45 years as a Landscape Entomologist and Arborist and 20 years with UF/IFAS Extension, Dr. Caldwell’s has seen it all in terms of pests and disease in the state of Florida.
Photo 2: Dr. “Doug Bug” Caldwell inspecting citrus leaves for the the Asian Citrus Psyllid
The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri Kuwayama, was first detected in Florida in 1998, and it has since become the key pest of citrus due to its role as vector of the pathogen that causes citrus greening disease, also known as huanglongbing (HLB). Citrus greening disease has had devastating effects on the industry in Collier County and throughout the state. Dr. Caldwell found that along with the commercial industry many homeowners’ citrus trees were dying, but that they were unfamiliar and inexperienced with what else they could grow.
Photo 3: Master Gardeners learning about tropical fruit varieties in the Collier Extension Grove
The subtropical climate of Southwest Florida is an excellent host to an attractive range of thriving tropical-subtropical fruit species, “Many folks have a “plant-fruit trees” gene and really enjoy the rewards of growing fruit trees” Doug says. He learned of the 100’s of fruit tree varieties that many had never heard of, created the annual fruit classes and transitioned the Collier County Extension citrus grove to a tropical fruit grove, “It’s a fun topic for me as I really enjoy learning about and tasting new fruit and how to grow them.”
Photo 4: Excited JAMAS class participants, 2009
Doug’s “Alternatives-to-Citrus” workshops series which include the annual mango and JAMAS classes, have been offered since 2009 as a way to familiarize homeowners and entrepreneurs with fruit tree options and their cultural requirements. Participants also go on guided taste tests, learn ways to preserve their bounty through dehydrating, pickling, jams and most recently freeze dried. Since the workshops began, over 1,300 local residents have participated.
Photo 5: Extension Director Twyla Leigh and Agriculture and Sustainable Food Systems Agent Jessica Ryals preparing taste test, 2021
Introducing and promoting alternative types of fruit trees not only means greater success for backyard groves, but more business for farms, nurseries and produce at local farmers’ markets.
Doug’s hope is that people will start planting unheard of, or underutilized, delicious fruits. Doug says he also hopes that these fruits would serve as partial income and back-up food source during tight times. He sees tropical fruit celebration days, more interaction with the local fruit clubs and small farmers and their extensive knowledge in Collier County’s tropical fruit future.
Photo 6: Collier Extension Tropical Fruit Class, preserving your harvest, 2019
Over the years the class has drawn local fruit experts as guest speakers including Jenny and David Burd, Dr. Stephen Brady and Louise E. King of the Fruit & Spice Park. This year’s JAMAS guest speaker will feature our very own Jeff Wasielewski, Commercial Tropical Fruit Extension Agent UF/IFAS Extension Miami-Dade County who will give a presentation on how to best grow the JAMAS alternatives and other fruits such as jaboticoba, sapodilla, white sapote, bananas and other fruit trees in south Florida.
Jeff is an expert horticulturist with 25 years of experience in the field. He has been writing and teaching about tropical fruit and South Florida horticulture for over 20 years. His goal is to assist all commercial tropical fruit growers in South Florida by providing current and science based information.
We hope to see you at the JAMAS class!
Where: Zoom (register on Eventbrite to get the link)
When: Saturday, September 18, 2021 @ 9:00AM to 10:30 AM