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Caloosa Rare Fruit Exchange to host annual sale

By Staff | Feb 4, 2009

The opportunity to experience rare and exotic fruits is just around the corner.
Valentine’s Day will see the Caloosa Chapter of Rare Fruit Exchange’s annual sale land in Terry Park in Fort Myers, bringing together a collection of trees, fruits and veggies outside the realm of what many consider the norm.
Entering its 25th year, the annual sale gives rare fruit novices and experts alike the chance to meet, discuss and sample exotic fruits.
Members of the Rare Fruit Exchange will be on hand selling their trees, and offering the chance to taste the exotic.
“It’s sort of a crash course in rare and exotic fruits,” said Rachel Singletary, Caloosa Chapter member. “It’s the chance to meet our members, who are all very interesting and knowledgeable.”
Even though the tree sale has been around for the better part of a quarter century, the Rare Fruit Exchange has been working to raise not only its profile but that of rare and exotic fruits in general.
Last summer the group held a special event called Taste of Lee to help it further that goal.
Working in conjunction with the University of Florida’s Lee County Extension Service, the Taste of Lee was a smashing success, bringing new members into the Rare Fruit Exchange fold.
Singletary suspects that people were convinced to join on the strength of the Taste of Lee. The tree sale will be set up much the same, with tasting tables, exotic trees and all manners of plants for sale, all locally grown, with the growers and farmers on hand to offer advice and information.
“We basically have a table that has all the unusual fruits, as well as fruits for people to taste,” she said. “We try to have the most unusual (things) there, so people’s interest is peaked. We have the plants and the trees, and the nursery men and women who grow them. They’re all local growers who are there for advice.”
One of the vendors at the event will be ECHO or Educational Concerns for Hunger, a North Fort Myers-based non-profit organization that tries to stave off hunger with agriculture education to small scale farm families worldwide.
Farm manager Danny Blank has worked the tree sale for many years. He said ECHO’s relationship with the Rare Fruit Exchange has been a successful one, as the local group has been a longtime supporter of the non-profit.
“They have been more of a support to us, financially,” Blank said. “They promote our educational aspects.”
ECHO’s Tropical Fruit Nursery has long sold its goods at the tree sale. Blank has called the transition between the outreach of ECHO to the Rare Fruit Exchange “seamless.”
“Our nursery is well suited to have a strong presence at their sale,” Blank said.
For more information, contact Singletary at 543-9910.