This past weekend I attended the Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016 in Frederick, MD hosted by author Michael Judd. The festival included paw paw tasting, paw paw ice cream making, tours of his straw bale house, tours of his food forests, ginger beer tasting, pizza from a fire brick oven, live music by local musicians, a Michael Judd book signing, and many other activities.
Paw Paw Jam on the Rocket Stove
The first stop I made on my video tour was the paw paw jam station. They were making fresh paw paw jam on a rocket stove. The jam included paw paw pulp, lemon juice, sugar, and pectin. The rocket stove is a very neat device that cooks with small pieces of wood and cooks extremely cleanly.
Other Food and Drinks
They had a wood fire pizza oven there and they were making pizzas for the people. I did a separate post and video on that earlier this week.
Next there was homemade ginger beer for small tastings. I have a separate post that I will put up in the future on this topic.
They also had an ice cream station where they were making fresh paw paw ice cream and serving it up to the guests.
Fun for the Kids
They had several kids’ areas where the kids could play and entertain themselves. There was an area where the kids could paint what they thought a paw paw festival should look like. They even had an area with sand and kids toys as well as face painting and arts and crafts.
Sampling the Paw Paws
There was a table that had four different types of paw paws on them. This area had volunteers slicing the paw paws and answering questions for the people. Behind this area was a table set up with volunteers who were cleaning the seeds. If any of the guests asked for the seeds, they received a handful. In this same general area Michael Judd was doing a book signing and selling some of his paw paw seedlings. He only had about half a dozen grafted varieties that he was selling and they were sold out before I even knew he was selling plants.
The festival had several local musicians that were entertaining us. They had a gentleman playing a harp near the kids’ section. Over near the paw paw tasting area they had a guitarist, violinist, and they took turns singing.
Michael has several Hugelkultur mounds on his property. He had signs up explaining what they are and why they are there. A Hugelkultur mound is basically just buried logs that you plant into. As the wood breaks down it wicks water up and holds it like a sponge for the plants to get a drink. It also helps build soil as it decays and helps add nutrients to the soil.
The Garden Tours
I went on a garden tour and saw the many unique edible plants that Michael has in his gardens and food forests. I did a video of one of his forest gardens and will post that next week.
The highlight to many was seeing the paw paw trees loaded with fruit on them. This is a sight that many people have never seen before even though the fruit is native to this area.
Paw paws do need two varieties to cross pollinate and sometimes people plant two different varieties right next to one another to ensure cross-pollination. If a paw paw falls on the ground, they have to be eaten in just a day or two. If they are handpicked they will store a little longer.
Straw Bale House
Michael’s house is a straw bale house. He gave a tour of the house and I only caught the tail end of it. I hope to get out there and video a tour at some point in time and make a post just on the straw bale house. The house is made from materials as close to his property as he could find it. Many of the materials and timbers came from his property. Other materials came from friends and neighbors in the local area.
The Volunteers and Guests
There were at least 20 volunteers at the festival helping make it a success. It was likely more than that, but it was sometimes difficult to tell who were volunteers and who were guests. Many of the guests jumped right in and were helping out with certain tasks. It seems everyone was enjoying helping out.
From a guest point of view, I’d have to say that this festival was a success. I have not talked to Michael to see what he thought of it. I know there was a lot of investment of both time and money he had to put into this event. I hope he has this again in 2017 and if he does, I’ll be there!
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Check out the Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016 video below.
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