Pawpaw Road Trippin’, Part 2: North Carolina Pawpaw Festival 2015 & West Virginia rambling

Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit is available from Chelsea Green Publishing

 

The North Carolina Pawpaw Festival has become a gathering of the region’s most dedicated, knowledgeable, and passionate pawpaw enthusiasts. I was honored to be among them a few weeks ago for the 8th annual event.

  • Ron and Terry Powell, of the North American Pawpaw Growers Association, disseminated information on growing, processing, and marketing pawpaws (and sold copies of their organization’s pawpaw cookbook!)
  • Though it was unripe, Woody Walker (who, several years ago, discovered and promoted the Kentucky Champion pawpaw tree) brought one of his “free stone” pawpaws for show, and offered dozens of seedlings for sale

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Walker holds his “free stone” pawpaw

  • Full of Life Farms’ Wynn Dinsen–whose pawpaws supply Fullsteam Brewery for its various pawpaw beers–sold fresh fruit and treesDSC_0119

A ripe, yellowing pawpaw from Dinsen’s orchard

  • Milton Parker sold seedling pawpaws and potted figs
  • Neal Peterson shared tips on growing pawpaws in commercial settings (and his vast knowledge of all things pawpaw), and information on his own Peterson Pawpaws
  • And among several other vendors was Afton, Virginia’s, Edible Landscaping, a longtime champion of, yep, edible landscaping, and one of the premier vendors of grafted pawpaws. Nursery owner Michael McConkey was in attendance throughout the festival.

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McConkey in the pawpaw patch

The festival is a production of the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension Service.

Fullsteam Brewery had originally planned to attend the festival and, I’m assuming, offer samples of its pawpaw beer(s). Unfortunately this was not able to occur. I’d interacted with Fullsteam on Twitter, inquiring whether their pawpaw Tripel would be available elsewhere in Winston-Salem, but no, unfortunately the nearest option would be Charlotte.

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Meanwhile, attempting to make good on a promise to a friend in Pittsburgh to bring back a regional beer, I asked a festival-goer about finding local brews. With her tip to check out Stella Brew, a craft beer bottle shop, I was delighted to find their Fullsteam collection. I mentioned to the shopkeeper my reason from visiting Winston-Salem and she said, “We’ve got Fullsteam’s pawpaw beer on tap!”

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I bought a growler of the Pawpaw Tripel and shared it with a room of pawpaw obsessives and it was pure joy.

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Check out Fullsteam’s Forager series by clicking here.

***

I gathered with a few friends that evening to sample nearly a dozen pawpaws, to compare cultivars and record our impressions of each. I wrote extensive notes on each pawpaw in my pocket-sized notebook and then proceeded to lose that notebook in the North Hills of Pittsburgh a few days later. (If anyone finds a notebook with unusual flavor notes, that’s it, let me know).

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***

On my way home, the next day, I took several detours in West Virginia, and found pawpaws everywhere. Below are pictures taken in and around the historic Thurmond, West Virginia. Pawpaws eveywhere.DSC_0211 DSC_0217 DSC_0218 DSC_0233

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6 thoughts on “Pawpaw Road Trippin’, Part 2: North Carolina Pawpaw Festival 2015 & West Virginia rambling

  1. Just bought your ebook tonight from Amazon. Will be growing PawPaw on Long Island, NY at the Long Island Green Dome. This year. If you have advice, let me know now. Will finish your book by the next 2 months.
    Will be going to Kentucky State University for the International PawPaw Convention. Going?
    Sincerely,
    Kevin Shea

  2. Thanks for grabbing the ebook, Kevin! The book is full of tips and advice, but I’ll mention briefly here that I’ve heard the winds on Long Island can be hard on the soft wood of pawpaws. Perhaps consider a buffer of some sort (versus a vulnerable planting of pawpaws in a wide-open space). See you at the conference!

    • Yes,. see you at the conference.
      As for winds, yes, they are troublesome, but I have cedar trees, berms, and a 6 foot fence.
      You mention in the book to have deep, fertile soil that drains well… yet Long Island is a sand bar with soil on top. I have loamy sand. Will this suggest that I should be preparing my soil well before planting?
      I just purchased 4 quantity 4 year old paw paw seedlings, in 2 gallon pots, standing 5 feet tall. Unknown cultivar. Aware of the long tap root, I was considering renting a hole digger, digging 3 feet into the ground and place a mixture of mycorrhiza moss and organic soil along with compost tea, then place the trees in this mixture. Then I would place drip irrigation emitters. Would you recommend otherwise?

  3. Tree people have advised me not amend your tree hole when you first plant, with the idea that your trees should become acquainted with the new soil conditions, instead of likely staying confined to the amended mixture you’ve added. If that makes sense. So perhaps heavy mulch over the surface, and top dressings throughout the first year? On the other hand, you want to make sure these things survive, so I can understand your desire to do what you’ve described above. Let me know what you decided at the conference!

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