Did you know that California produces nearly 90% of the nation’s strawberries? Neither did I. But, after tasting them fresh from some year-round strawberry fields in Watsonville, it’s no wonder – they’re so extremely sweet, juicy, and scrumptious!
Last week I joined the California Strawberries commission and a handful of other bloggers on a very special farm tour. We dined on strawberries that were savory, strawberries that were sweet, and strawberries mixed in concoctions I never would have come up with.
Chatting and Dining with CA Strawberry Commission
All ten bloggers checked in at the Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz, California to get things rolling. We were welcomed with tasty treats. As delectable as the appetizers looked, everyone just took photos of them and no one at any until it was almost time to go inside for dinner. That’s food bloggers for you…
Then, dinner was served. We had WAY too much food but, of course, everyone still had enough room for the dessert. My favorites had to be the salad with black lava salt from Hawaii, the lamb with a strawberry bourbon glaze, and the almond cake with strawberry caramel and mascarpone mousse (not a fan of the accompanying mochi though).
Along the Santa Cruz Wharf
Early the next morning, we took a short stroll near the Santa Cruz wharf before getting down to business. Some of the bloggers were having quite a bit of fun stopping random surfers to pose for pictures. The surfers, however, didn’t mind one bit.
Touring the Strawberry Fields with Farmer Rod Koda in Watsonville, CA
Then it was off to meet Rod Koda, farmer and owner of the family’s Shinta Kawahara Farm in Watsonville. His strawberry fields were gorgeous! Rows and rows of both conventional and organic grown strawberries covered much of the 27 acres of his property. FYI, no GMO’s are used on this or any other California strawberry farm 🙂
We learned so much about how sandy soil and temperate California weather allows for a good nine months of harvest just in this area alone. Rod walked us through the fields as he light-heartedly shared what it’s like to be a farmer and described the meticulous work of ensuring the best flavor in the safest way. All this with a huge tractor vacuum sucking up pests (aka “bug vac”) in the background.
Rod was working with a few different varieties but the majority was dedicated to growing Albion strawberries. These were, by far, the sweetest and most flavorful in my opinion. In case you were wondering, we were given permission to pick and eat as many strawberries as we wanted during the tour. In fact, Rod’s daughter was kindly searching out for some of the most ripe ones to share with us. It would have been wrong to refuse them so Caroline and I kindly obliged.
Current Research at Monterey Bay Academy
At Monterey Bay Academy, Senior Research Manager Dr. Hillary Q. Thomas explained the research being done there. California strawberry farmers are investing millions in finding out how to use less chemicals to control diseases and pests. One method used compost and coconut coir instead of soil, while another attempted to adjust the balance of microscopic organisms.
Never Ending Lunch by Los Lobos Truck
To bring our day of touring for the strawberry fields to an end, Los Lobos Truck catered our much anticipated lunch.
Chef Jasmine Wolf really out did herself. Everything was delicious and more food just kept bringing brought out. It was hard to choose which main entree to get when both the PB, strawberry jam & bacon Kobe slider served on brioche and gabyback ribs with strawberry BBQ sauce on a strawberry honeydew salsa & old Mac looked so good. I had a bit of each and was pleased with both. She also sent everyone home with left over dishes, including a special gluten-free to go box for my husband.
I had an wonderful time during the overnight event. My daughter loves strawberries and we often have them stocked during these peak months. So, knowing more about the local farms they come from and the care put into growing them really gave me a new appreciation for this versatile and healthy fruit. The next time you bite into a bright red ripe strawberry, just remember that it just might have come from California!
Check out the commission’s official site for facts, recipes, and more. You can also follow them online:
- Facebook: CAstrawberries
- Twitter: @CAstrawberries
- Instagram: @CAstrawberries
- Pinterest: CAstrawberries
- Google+: California Strawberries
- YouTube: CAstrawberries
All travel and lodging expenses provided by the CA Strawberries Commission. All opinions are my own.