The annual Tupelo Honey Festival will be held on Saturday, May 19 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. CT at Lake Alice Park in Wewahitchka. This is an exciting event, with your chance to take part in a local delicacy. Area honey producers will be on hand, selling their honey in a variety of sizes. There will also be food, art and crafts, and live music.

For decades, tupelo honey has been synonymous with Gulf County. The pollen from the tupelo gum tree (Nyssa ogeche), produces some of the finest honey in the world. The common name “tupelo” is derived from language of the Muscogee Nation, also known as the Creek Indian Nation. The meaning of the word is “swamp tree”, as this tree flourishes in areas of wet soils and seasonal flooding. Gulf County is home to one of the largest tupelo forests on earth.

The tupelo bloom season lasts from approximately mid-April to the end of May. This is an anxious time for beekeepers. Tupelo blooms are very temperamental and delicate in nature. For this short period, beekeepers hope for little wind or rain and no cold temperatures, as any of these factors can make or break tupelo honey production. Regardless of seasonal impacts, the demand for Gulf County’s tupelo honey never subsides.

Blueberries have also become a Panhandle favorite. Whether grown in containers, in the landscape or raised beds, Gulf County offers a great climate and adequate soil conditions for blueberry production. Southern Highbush cultivars have been in harvest season from mid spring through May. Although a preferred variety for the peninsular Florida climate, highbush is also grown in our area. Rabbiteye cultivars, which tend to produce better yields for dooryard growers in the northern Florida, are in harvest season from May through July. Tupelo honey and blueberries are both great healthy snacks. Try this refreshing drink recipe:

 

Berry Banana Smoothie

 

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt

 

½ cup blueberries

 

½ small banana

 

2 tablespoons wheat germ (optional)

 

1 tbsp tupelo honey

 

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. If you use frozen fruit, no ice is needed. Otherwise, blend with a few ice cubes. Recipe makes about 1–2 servings. Enjoy!

 

For more information on tupelo honey or gardening with blueberries contact Gulf County Extension at 639-3200.

 

Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publication, “Healthy Eating: Drink to Your Health” by Jennifer Hillan, Emily Minton, and Linda B. Bobroff: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY69600.pdf

 

UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.