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Feb. 18, 2006 – This week Senator Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg announced his plans to celebrate the Guavaberry.
Donastorg has proposed making the Guavaberry the territory's official fruit and establishing an annual festival to include wine tastings and pastry challenges.
"I wanted to bring this to the public's attention this week as we are getting ready to enjoy our largest Agricultural festival," Donastorg said. "It is especially fitting given the theme of this year's fair 'Agriculture and Tourism: A Perfect Mix for 2006.' It is my hope that we can continue to make the Virgin Islands a more interesting destination through the expansion and celebration of the agriculture industry."
The legislation calls for the Department of Agriculture to hold educational and recreational activities related to the Guavaberry on all three islands, with major events taking place on St. Croix.
"We have some expert wine, jam and tart makers out there and this is a chance for them to demonstrate their talents in a formal setting," he said. "Additionally, the festival is to be held in the last week of January so it will be one of three special events on St. Croix during the winter season. This will encourage more inter-island travel and give tourists further reason to make a trip to the big island."
Guavaberry trees are native to the Virgin Islands and usually bear in early winter, though not a great deal is known about this rare fruit.
"We need to encourage the cultivation of this special fruit before it is too late and our trees are all lost to development," he said. "Guavaberries are very unique – you can only get them in a few places. In fact, I have heard there is only one living tree in the entire United States mainland growing some place in a botanical garden."
Donastorg said that a huge variety of products can be made with guavaberries and that the Territory had not yet realized the potential for growing and marketing the fruit.
The senator said he knows some people may disagree with making the Guavaberry the Territory's official fruit.
"I understand that mangoes may be more popular and commonplace, but they are not indigenous to the Virgin Islands," he said. "We need to celebrate what makes us special."
The senator praised Agriculture Fair organizers for their choice of a 2006 theme as tourism is successfully centered around agriculture in many other places.
"The prime example is wine country in California's Napa Valley," he said. "People come from all over the world, not just to drink, but to see how the grapes are grown and the wine is made. We could certainly aim for something similar with our local crops, albeit on a much smaller scale."
Donastorg concluded that he looked forward to hearing feedback on his idea to celebrate the Guavaberry and that, as always, he remained open to suggestions.