Warm-weather fruit gaining popularity in Granite State
By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
BELMONT — There's nothing like the sweet taste of a freshly grown fig plucked from a tree growing right in your backyard, said Kerry Sullivan, self-appointed fig maestro at Osborne's Agway.
“They have such a great taste and it only lasts a day or two, which is why you can't buy something from California and have it shipped here. All the ripening takes place in the last few hours on the tree and once it's picked, the process stops,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan's grown hundreds of fig trees in the last seven or eight years at his Gilford Avenue home and many of those trees, grown in five- to seven-gallon containers, are now available for sale at Osborne's Agway, where Sullivan works in the greenhouse.
He and his wife, Barbara, have their Gilford Avenue home in Laconia on the market and realize that their new home will not likely have the large barn-like storage area that he's been able to use to overwinter the trees, which require being dug up every fall and replanting every spring in order to survive the cold winters in New Hampshire.
Faced with the impending loss of his winter storage space, Sullivan decided to sell off the major part of his fig trees and says that his employer was more than happy to provide a place for him to display and sell them.
Sullivan has experimented with hundreds if varieties of figs in recent years in order to see which ones adapt to the climate and produce the best fruit. One of his favorites is a seven-year-old Ronde de Bordeaux, a French variety with which is sweet with a touch of fruitiness. Another of his favorites is JH Adriatic, which is an early producer which has adapted well to the Northeast.
He has talked with the University of New Hampshire's Cooperative Extension Service about donating some of his plants to them for possible research in having a new agricultural product for small farmers.
Sullivan said growing figs in New Hampshire is not all that unique. The Rossi family, which opened their own restaurant decades ago, has been growing figs at their Route 132 home for 40 years.
He's noticed that growing figs seems to be catching on in New Hampshire and that he's glad to be part of that.
He was born in Florida and raised in Georgia and said he and his wife, a Laconia native whose maiden name was Turcotte, met in Northern California where they were doing agricultural internships. They married and moved to Pennsylvania, not that far from Valley Forge, where they started one of the first Community Supported Agriculture operations in that state, which they ran for 15 years before selling it and moving to New Hampshire.
Kerry Sullivan stands next to a JH Adriatic fig tree at Osborne's Agway in Belmont, which has been selling the trees in recent months. (Roger Amsden/Laconia Daily Sun)
A JH Adriatic fig tree has ripe figs which are ready to be enjoyed. (Roger Amsden/Laconia Daily Sun)
Figs are growing on a Ronde de Bordeaux fig tree which is for sale at Osborne's Agway in Belmont. (Roger Amsden/Laconia Daily Sun)
A variety of fig trees are available at Osborne's Away in Belmont. (Roger Amsden/Laconia Daily Sun)
- Written by Roger Amsden
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 2