Posts Tagged ‘peaches’

Growers Get Peaches In Front of Pupils


Farm to School Program Continues to Connect Orchardists with Florida Schools

IF YOU’RE IN ANY FIELD of agriculture in the Southeast, then you’ve probably heard of citrus greening and the way the disease is devastating the Florida citrus industry. If you’re in elementary school in Florida, however, then the fresh produce in your school-provided lunch is looking more sweet than ever. School children in 24 districts in The Sunshine State have been loving the peaches that have emerged over the years as a result of crop diversification, and it’s all thanks to the Florida Farm to School Program. Read More…


Bringing Blueberry Lovers into the Peach Fold

blueberries-peachesKeel and Curley Winery Serves Up Peach-Themed Products and Agritourism Event

THE KEEL AND CURLEY WINERY started in 2003, when blueberry farmer Joe Keel had an idea for what to do with his end-of-season berries. In the Plant City farmhouse kitchen, he prepared his first batch of blueberry wine. Some experimentation and refinement resulted in three distinct blueberry wines. Now, more than 20,000 cases of wine are produced each year at the Keel and Curley Winery — with peach wine and other beverages added to the mix.

Blueberries, blackberries, and peaches are the bread and butter of agriculture operation turned tourist attraction. The onsite winery, cidery, and brewery keep the Keels plenty busy brewing their flavorful products. They feature them seven days a week for customers through their tasting room and Railcar 91 food truck, as well as with several themed festivals, each held annually. They have hosted a blueberry festival for almost a decade, Biertoberfest since 2012, and the Third Annual Peach Festival will be taking place in May 2017.

Alicia Keel says that it only made sense that they would add a peach festival when they began growing peaches. “We’ve always had a tradition of holding festivals for our harvests, so as soon as we had our peaches available we added a peach festival,” she says. There will be u-picks available, and customers are urged to come early as that tends to be a very popular sale. Despite the warmer winter weather trends, the peach harvest is expected to go well. Whatever blueberries and blackberries are leftover from their respective harvests also will be available.

The diversification into these related ventures makes the Keel and Curley Winery an agritourism destination with many attractions. The tasting room makes it easy for guests to try the array of beverages offered by Keel and Curley, including several peach-flavored beverages:

WINES – The blueberry wines that started the company come in three varieties: dry, semi-dry, and sweet. In addition to these classics are seven fusion wines that combine fruit juice, including a peach chardonnay.

CIDERS – Keel and Curley offers eight different ciders. The hard apple cider is brewed at the Two Henrys Brewing and blended with fresh fruit grown on-site or locally. Strawberry, mango, and peach are just a few examples. These ciders are made with fresh juices, not from concentrate, which distinguishes them from competitors.

BEERS – Two Henrys Brewing is the cider and beer branch of the Keel and Curley tree. Five craft beers and a rotating selection of seasonal craft beers means there is always something new to try in the tasting room, including a peach beer.

Having fields full of berries, grapes, and peaches gives Keel and Curley plenty to work with, and they make the most of it. They have even expanded into serving food this year with their Railcar 91 food truck. This provides even more opportunity for cross-use of products, with the ability to feature custom pairings seasonally on the menu.

Are there plans to expand into any more ventures soon? “No!” says Mrs. Keel. “Between having the winery, the cidery, the brewery, and then our own food and tasting room that’s open seven days a week, I think we’ve got a full plate.” And with growing consumer interest and demand of Florida peaches, a full plate of fresh offerings is what a hungry market calls for.




Publisher’s Introduction: Southeastern Orchardists Have Both Challenges and Opportunities

kirkland-sig-tpnIF YOU’RE a “glass is half full” kind of person (and you are in the agriculture industry, so you most likely are), then you might look at some of the challenges the industry faces and see opportunity. You’re not alone. With chill hours being an essential part of the peach cultivation process, there’s no doubt that the lack of accumulation of those chill hours will have definite impacts on the yield come harvest time — should that happen. But, fortunately for us, we have the power of research and technology in our corner. In this edition, you’ll read about how southeastern universities, industry researchers, growers, and government branches are working toward changing challenges into opportunities for the Southeastern peach industry. Here are some of the themes you’ll discover:

• Research funding is awarded to Clemson University for continued efforts on a viable organic peach growing method for Southeastern orchardists.

• An example of how diversifying with u-pick, a festival, and other agritourism offerings can put peaches in the limelight.

• Jeff Cook at the University of Georgia talks about what climatologists are saying and how research is under way to make trees produce around the chill hours.

• Florida orchardists have an opportunity with the Farm to School program.

• Plus, University of Florida researchers, growers, and allied professionals discuss the state of the industry and what efforts will help keep momentum going.

It’s a challenging time to be in the agriculture industry, but, in all honesty, when is it not? The same could even be said for opportunities, and it is those who focus on the latter that will emerge triumphant with creative solutions for continued industry growth.

If you are reading this edition for the first time, and you are a grower, you may subscribe to this publication for free. Just go to and complete the online subscription form. As you count the chill hours into the winter months, I wish you the best, and I look forward to a plentiful harvest.



Nelson Kirkland is publisher of The Peach News magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at


When a growing orchard needs the right lender

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orchardWhen growers, farmers and ranchers look for service and product suppliers to help them achieve their business goals and dreams, they look for people who know the industry — people who know agriculture; people who know the land; people who know peaches, and citrus, and blueberries. When it comes to financing, they’ll find that kind of understanding and expertise with the providers at AgAmerica Lending. Read More…