Rooted in Resilience: Greg Gude

July 2022

The kumquat has been rooted in Dade City for more than 100 years. This tart fruit is packed with flavor and has been a key driver to the local economy over the years. There’s even an annual kumquat festival in honor of this ‘little golden gem of the citrus industry” that welcomes thousands of visitors each year.

Greg Gude is a third generation kumquat grower who has had a love for kumquats since he would pick the fruit at age 13 alongside his dad. “I just love the fruit,” says Gude. “I love to talk about it…I guess it’s in my blood.”

Gude has shared his love for the kumquat across the world—traveling to events to share his knowledge about the fruit in Chile, Georgia, Epcot and an array of festivals statewide.

He became more hands-on in the family business during his days off as a firefighter while his kids were young. He would work in the packing house during the season where he grew his appreciation and knowledge for the fruit.

“We really had a heck of business,” exclaimed Gude. “At our peak, we were harvesting about 15,000 bushels of kumquats and employed between 30-50 harvesters.”

The peak was in 2015, right before citrus greening devastated the kumquat. Groves totaling 4,000 trees, soaring at 17 feet, were reduced to just 200 trees.

Gude’s positive attitude, faith and love for agriculture (and the kumquat) kept him rooted.  He began to regrow and rebuild. He worked with UF/IFAS Extension agents on new and innovative growing techniques.

“After so many years of productive trees, we had to look at ways to plant differently,” said Gude.

They planted different sized trees, used tree covers, ground coverings and implemented various methods to deter the Asian Psyllid such as pumpkin bugs and oiling the leaf.

Gude, his wife Fanchone, and his family, relied on their seasonal income from Kumquat Growers to supplement the farm income. Kumquat Growers currently offer 17 different products ranging from Kumquat pie, marmalades, jellies, salsa, sauces and even kumquat butter, are available to order.

Last year, they harvested 1,­100 bushels of kumquats. A far number from 15,000; but they have secured Publix as a customer, supplying kumquats to its distribution centers. They have also partnered with different breweries to deliver kumquat puree as the key ingredient to a kumquat craft beer.

Gude is hopeful that his grandchildren will continue in the family business. “I still believe in the industry,” said Gude. “I see the opportunity and know the value of the land. That’s the resilience.”