FruitScapes growing back stronger than before | News, Sports, Jobs

FruitScapes’ fruit varieties on display. PHOTO PROVIDED

Stephen Cucura said although they had to close FruitScapes for a couple of months after Hurricane Ian, recovery is going very well and he is happy to announce that they have decided to build back stronger than they were before. He and his business partner, Jesus Avalos, have co-owned FruitScapes fruit market for 15 years (since 2008).

“We were so vulnerable before. We lost the experience of Hurricane Charley — after several years, you forget the damage a real hurricane can do. We kind of lost track of that memory and after this one hit, we decided, if we’re gonna rebuild, we’re gonna have to rebuild stronger,” Cucura said.

Put simply, he explained, the infrastructure has to be stronger, such as reconstructing the nursery’s greenhouses and keeping the current trees short and stout, so they can resist high winds.

According to Cucura, they may have overdone themselves, as they now have more trees, perhaps, than they should, but he feels that it’s better to have an overabundance of trees rather than a lack, to keep customer satisfaction in their stock.

FruitScapes was represented at the recent MangoMania Event, as Cucura and others gave presentations on the known history of mangoes on Pine Island. Cucura coordinated the seminar group, he said, which included 5 separate presentations.

The team at FruitScapes in Bokeelia. PHOTO PROVIDED

“I could go on for a day just talking about mangoes in general, but I wanted to concentrate on the history of mangoes in Pine Island. There’s a lot to know about mangoes if you do it for a living. Mangoes have been grown in Pine Island for over 100 years — that we have documentation to prove — but mangoes have probably been growing in Pine Island for 300 or 400 years. Really the only commercial production of mangoes in the United States is in South Florida. You can’t grow them commercially anywhere else in the continental U.S. You can grow them in South Texas, Arizona, California, but commercially — it’s not viable. Also, mangoes are one of the most drought-tolerant fruit trees that you can grow. They can withstand over 9 months of drought — once they’re established, they can live for well over 9 months without a drop of rain, “ Cucura said.

Cucura said they realized how many friends they have in the neighborhood, as other islanders have been helping out and sending business their way.

“Even competitors have been sending us contacts and their customers, to try to get us back on our feet again. It’s been a very encouraging recovery — never would have thought there was this much generosity out there. We never asked for any help because we knew we could do it on our own, but, with help, it’s definitely stronger and faster,” Cucura said, adding that FruitScapes employees played a major role in rebuilding. Some of them even boated back to the island to do whatever they were able to do to keep the business going.

FruitScapes is at 12870 Stringfellow Road, Bokeelia. For additional information about the business, please call 239-237-6657.

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