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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Now as we head into summer, MORNING EDITION is bringing you a series of reports from some of the nation's farmers markets. We're getting a better sense of some of the more creative and interesting things that people are eating. And this week, we take you to the sprawling market in Santa Monica, California. Each Wednesday, regular folks compete with professional chefs to grab the best stuff.

NPR's Ina Jaffe introduces us there to a grower, who specializes in unusual varieties of stone fruit.

INA JAFFE: Maybe a rose is a rose is a rose. But at Fitzgerald Kelly's fruit stand, a nectarine may be a lovely Lolita or a peach, a virgin blush, or…

Mr. FITZGERALD KELLY (Grower): This is a combination of plum and apricot.

JAFFE: Kelly holds up a Flavorella aprium. It's one quarter plum and three quarters apricot and about the size of a ping-pong ball.

Mr. KELLY: But the flavor range within this piece of fruit is phenomenal. Because when you first bite into it, it has a texture of - is it plum or is it apricot. And then the finish is something from citrus like a lime.

JAFFE: Kelly must really like this aprium because it's a pain in the neck to grow.

Mr. KELLY: You know, we have 25 trees. Oh, you know, we're going to get 10 pieces of fruit per tree. It's the dumbest in the world to grow. But by god, the fruit is good.

(Soundbite of laughter)

JAFFE: And he is eternally optimistic.

Mr. KELLY: And I'm thinking that one year I'm actually going to get a lot of fruit. You know, next year is always going to be better.

JAFFE: Kelly grows 190 varieties of tree fruit, not all in season at the same time of course. Right now he's got another plum and apricot mix. The pluot, three quarters plum, one quarter apricot. This variety is called the Flavorosa.

Mr. KELLY: And to all appearances it looks like kind of a dark, very - nearly black, purple plum.

JAFFE: With a deep garnet flesh.

Mr. KELLY: They are not as complicated a flavor as the Flavorella aprium. But they distinctively are not a plum.

JAFFE: He is also particularly proud of some little apricots he's named Elgin Marbles. Customer Judy Heft(ph) likes them too.

Ms. JUDY HEFT: These are the best-tasting apricots in the market.

Mr. KELLY: Yeah, these are special. I'm the only one who grows these.

JAFFE: Kelly has been raising new varieties of stone fruit developed by professional plant breeders for a long time. Now, he is starting to invent some of his own. For example, a plum and white nectarine mix that he respectfully calls Mr. McNulty.

Mr. KELLY: And it is ugly. Let's say, (unintelligible) it is kind of a mauve color with speckles but it eats spectacularly.

JAFFE: So he's going to sell it. Look for Mr. McNulty at Kelly's fruit stand at the end of June.

Ina Jaffe, NPR News.

INSKEEP: Now if you just can't tell one fruit from another, you can find out more about them and other farm fresh foods at npr.org.

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