Matt Bycer is like any other 33-year-old attorney who wakes up at the crack of dawn to exercise. Except that rather than sweating to a P90X regimen, Bycer, in a T-shirt, shorts and cowboy hat, lugs 170 buckets of water across his backyard in Scottsdale, Ariz., to water his etrog farm.
The Phoenix native has been nurturing his citron project since he first started collecting etrogs in 2007. With a 60 percent survival rate for each etrog tree he plants, Bycer is optimistic that he’ll be up for production in five years and able to sell the valuable fruit to Jews across America.
The etrog (also pronounced esrog) is one of four plant species that Jews are enjoined to pick up and shake daily during the week long holiday of Sukkot, which this year begins on the eve of Sept. 30.
“I’m a patent lawyer by day and farmer by dawn,” he said. “It’s a lot of work to run this esrog farm, and a lot of people laugh at me and think its kooky, but I have a huge backyard and I like working outside. I’m really dedicated to this.”
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