Loco for Loquats
Hollywood Orchard’s Pick n’Kitchen on May 19, 2012 involved 65 Neighbors!
photo by Mariya Stepanyan
We had our eyes on the quickly ripening Loquats up and down Beachwood Canyon for a month. They were already ripe and tasty weeks before the designated date. The drama was, ‘would they hold out till late May?’ But, as a testament to the micro-climates in the canyon, in the few days prior we found a dozen trees hidden in shady spots, laden with fruit unmolested by the birds and squirrels. A few ‘Orchardistas’, armed with flyers, in a few evening strolls, enrolled another dozen neighbors in the idea of their unused fruit going to the non-profit neighborhood food projects and local pantries.
On that glorious morning, folks started to gather at the decent hour of 9am and when we counted 35 ‘ready and willing’, we broke up into 6 groups and set out on foot, each with a map to two or three trees. We added 10 citrus to the maps because they seem to be omnipresent, in a constant cycle of flowers, green fruit and ripe fruit, sometimes all at once. Neighbors who came later where folded into the Pop-up Kitchen preparations.
We set out with pole cutters and ladders, many donated recently by the local Home Depot. In a few hours we had filled the little pickup truck 3-4 times! In the cul-de-sac, the kitchen crew had organized washing bins under the trees, where folks exchanged wives tales and plans for the future, while prepping mountains of Loquats, Lemons, Grapefruits, Oranges and the tastiest Tangerines most have ever had.
By the time the ‘Gatherers’ had returned the Pop-up Kitchen was in full swing with pots of Loquats simmering on stovetops (thanks to the equipment loaned by Chef Ernest Miller of the Farmer’s Kitchen). If it’s true that busy hands are happy hands then we were one happy bunch of neighbors. Peeling, pitting and mashing to the live music of the Maesa Pullman Band.
By cleanup time we had sealed about 150 jars of Loquat preserves and 500lbs of citrus went to Project Angel Food. Whatever didn’t go home with an Orchardista, or in one of the 15 ‘Thank You’ baskets (for the tree owners), is now laying in storage for another awesome Orchard event, come fall.
Photos by Bridie Macdonald