Fresh fruit is all about health. Fresh-picked fruit from your own back yard is all about taste. And exotic fruits? You probably have a favorite fruit . . . but think about the fruits you never had as a child . . . the ones you have discovered since we now have premium-priced “fruits of the world” shipped to our grocery, ethnic, and specialty food stores. You live in Florida . . . and yes, you can grow a LOT of these exotic fruits . . . if you know where to get the plants and what they need to thrive (and sometimes it is not much).
We call fruits rare, not because they are almost extinct or difficult to grow, but because most people in the U.S. don’t know about them. Many RFCI members are people from other countries around the world . . . rich with the knowledge of the plants which grew in their native regions and actively growing them here in Florida. We also have transplanted northerners who stumble into “rare” fruits because, if you come from Michigan, even a pineapple is exotic . . . and locals, who decide to see just how far they can push climactic “limits,” usually by utilizing “microclimates” and a few mechanical or chemical “tricks.”
Researchers at the University of Florida are constantly introducing new cultivars and fruits “new” to Florida . . . and there are now several excellent varieties of apples, peaches, and other stone fruits which make are a wonderful addition to dooryard fruit variety. How do you get a tree to fruit fast? Do you need other varieties of a plant for cross-pollination? Which varieties have the best taste? The best cold or heat tolerance? Better drought resistance? These are the types of discussions you will hear at an RFCI meeting. And eventually, you, too, will become an “expert” in something you have a particular affinity for growing.
Don’t have a green thumb? You are probably thinking of the struggle with an annual garden plot. Many of the rare fruits grow on trees . . . a permanent part of your landscape which can, with proper selection and a little encouragement, continue producing year after year–and add to your home’s “curb appeal” at the same time. Fruit trees in your yard increase the value of your home . . . and your pleasure while living there.