Thursday, September 28, 2023

Jews in America rely on a single farm run by a Presbyterian to provide the obscure fruit they need for their annual harvest celebration

LAT (the harvest this year was dire):

For thousands of years, the citron has been a part of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. A vital element of the tradition, the fruit is held while reciting a daily blessing during the weeklong harvest celebration, which this year begins Friday at sundown.


Among Jews, a citron is known as an etrog, the fruit’s Hebrew name. Ahead of Sukkot, they can cost more than $100 apiece, owing in part to their rarity and the stringent rules that govern their cultivation and use.


John Kirkpatrick, who’d established Lindcove Ranch in the mid-1960s, had for years been a grower of lemons, oranges and other fruit. But the increasing industrialization and consolidation of citrus farming made it harder to compete with larger enterprises, Greg Kirkpatrick said.

It was an out-of-the-blue telephone call from a part-time etrog importer named Yisroel Weisberger in 1980 that would change the course of John Kirkpatrick’s life — and give his farm a new vitality.

Weisberger asked Kirkpatrick if he could help him find a grower to cultivate citron trees. “And I said, ‘I think you’re talking to him’”