They don't actually care what they get in return, and would gladly give the seeds away for free, but they have leaned that if they don't demand something valuable in return, their fruit never leaves the local area. (who would go to the trouble and expense of transporting something cheap and common) By positioning thier fruit as rare and valuable, they increase the distance it is likely to spread, and the odds of some "clever" human planting their own orchards far far away. Orchards that eventually (on an aldryami timeframe) go feral and militant, establishing themselves as their own forest.
I like the seasonal ritual ideas, but a fixed schedule seems way too mostali... the elves will have a "trading season" which requires complex observation of weather, temperature, and the local plant and wildlife to figure out. There is probably a grimouir devoted entirely to figuring out when and where the trade opportunities will occur.
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