Get the Best Christmas Gifts at Citrus Fest This Weekend at the Eastside Farmers Market

Want to get your loved ones an unusual, thoughtful Christmas gift that keeps giving year after year? Of course you do. Your father doesn't need any more ties, socks or boxers and your mother is only using that coffeemaker because you bought it for her. She secretly hates it.

So head to Urban Harvest's annual Citrus Fest starting this weekend at the Urban Harvest farmers market on Eastside, where more than 20 different varieties of local citrus trees will be for sale.

"We will be sampling over 60 different varieties available that can be grown in Houston," says market manager Tyler Horne. And in addition, Horne says, the market will also "have the tastings as a way to promote our annual Fruit Tree Sale on Saturday, January 19 at the HCC Southwest Campus." And although the Citrus Fest is exciting in and of itself, Horne is already chomping at the bit for the Fruit Tree Sale to arrive.

"We have 107 different varieties of fruit trees for sale this year."

Starting at 8 a.m. at the Eastside Farmers Market, chef Philippe Schmit of Philippe will be at the market demonstrating people how to cook with citrus. Meanwhile, Urban Harvest founder and master gardener Dr. Bob Randall -- who literally wrote the book on gardening and fruit tree growing in Houston ( who wrote the definitive book on fruit trees and gardening in Houston (Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for Metro-Houston) (http://yearroundgardening.me/about/) -- will be on hand to answer questions about all the citrus trees for sale.

In this year's line-up of citrus trees are both standard and unique varieties of oranges, pumelos, kumquats, satsumas, lemons, limes and grapefruit -- all of which do exceptionally well in our climate and soil, so you're already decreasing the possibility of your loved ones killing the trees in their first year.

In addition to this weekend, the Citrus Fest will be ongoing through December 2 at the following Urban Harvest farmers markets:

HCC Southwest Farmers Market (5601 West Loop South) - Friday, November 30, 3 to 7 p.m. Eastside Farmers Market (3000 Richmond) - Saturday, December 1, 8 a.m. to noon Highland Village Farmers Market (2720 Suffolk) - Sunday, December 2, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Horne himself is particularly excited about the Buddha's hand trees that will be for sale this weekend. It's an unusual variety of citrus tree that produces long fingers of citrus fruit and highly fragrant flowers. The Buddha's hand's fruit can make for an interesting gift in and of itself -- although it contains very little actual flesh and is mostly rind, you can infuse it into liquor or even make marmalade out of it.

"Personally, I've only used it for the copious amounts of zest it produces," says Horne, "but it can be candied too."

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