It is rare (atleast in my experience) to come across an individual and instantly feel a bond of true friendship. It is even more rare to actually find such to be full of integrity, truth, honesty, loyalty and love.
This is the story of how my friend Eric Durtschi got into figs…
Eric is a true Southern gentleman. Born in Louisiana but moved with his parents when he was just a young boy. His mom would always talk to him about how much she loved figs but they were never able to grow them in their climate and they didn’t know much about container culture. Eric would always buy his mother fig treats for her birthday and Christmas. One day, at a farmers market in Salt Lake City, when he was 40 years old, he tried his first fresh fig and instantly fell in love with them. However, Eric still saw them as a product that he would only be able to have once or twice a year, if lucky. So he went and bought himself a Chicago Hardy fig tree, put it in a pot and it would die back every year but he was able to try 2 ripe figs one year, that to him, were fantastic!
Eric had been an avid gardener ever since he was young. He grew up in a farm in the middle of Tennessee and was surrounded by wild fruits and so he started cultivating berries early on. He told me that gardening has been a passion of his for many years and his children share his love for gardening. So I asked Eric:
“What got you into figs (who or what inspired you)”?
Something kind of happened at that time. I have a very addictive personality and I love to collect and learn and I try to master things as soon as I can. I just get an insatiable appetite for learning anything and everything that I can when I find a new obsession. Figs met the bill and since every other collectible thing from my former life was lost, all the energy of a very active man went into my new found fig obsession and, yes, I went overboard.
Eric now lives in Santa Barbara, California with his beautiful family. A weather most will envy with a coastal climate in zone 10a with very mild temperatures. In fact, rarely does it hit the 30’s or goes over 85 degrees fahrenheit. His seasons are long for growing figs and he loves growing in both containers and in ground. I asked Eric how many fig varieties he had and he simply said “I plead the 5th“. I told you he was a very smart man….. 😉
Eric’s most unique variety is Ruby Rose, a local seedling that he found. He finds the beautiful red leaves and stems when they are developing fascinating. The best fig he has ever tasted is a caprified CLBC. He said it took Black Madeira quality to the next level (that’s saying a lot).
Eric also said that if he had just one variety he could grow, it would certainly be Smith. “It’s fantastic, early, productive and fruits for a long period of time“. This is one variety that I was not successful at trying out for good info to submit to the database but I did keep for another year and I am so hoping it works out as I have heard so much positivity on it.
Don’t be fooled by his looks either. Whenever anything grabs his attention, he will do whatever his mind tells him to do and there is no stopping him. Some of the things I know about Eric is that he’s almost a ninja 😆 , One of the editors for this amazing website, owner of Crio Bru and a leading expert in the chocolate space and has taught classes all over the world. Him and his wife hope to be able to have chocolate and fig tastings and classes to help spread the awareness of this amazing fruit that has been a part of humanity for as long as it has been recorded.
Where do you see yourself 5-10 years from now with fig?
Eric has become quite the celebrity throughout the fig community. Non the less, that’s expected when someone is so down to earth, kind, funny, humble and a jokester. So much so that on Ourfigs, Eric is the star to changing the mood of bad threads to something funny and or positive. One of his favorite guys “I think” is Joe (TorontoJoe), one of the moderators of the forum. I mean, Joe is one of my favorite guys as well. We can joke, laugh and be serious when we converse too. Joe is a master at creating/editing images of “The FigTator” and I always laugh so hard when I see them. And this is why I consider Eric a friend and why so many people love him.