Home Food Filling Up on CA Strawberries & Touring the Strawberry Fields

Filling Up on CA Strawberries & Touring the Strawberry Fields

by TerriAnn
Strawberry fields tour in Watsonville w/ CA Strawberry Commision – Shinta Kawahara Farm with Rod Koda #StrawberryLand #photography


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.

Strawberry fields tour in Watsonville w/ CA Strawberry Commision #StrawberryLand #california

Image courtesy of Robert Durell Photography

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…

Strawberry fields tour in Watsonville w/ CA Strawberry Commision at Chaminade Resort & Spa #StrawberryLand #photography

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).

Strawberry fields tour in Watsonville w/ CA Strawberry Commision at Chaminade Resort & Spa #StrawberryLand #photography

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.

Strawberry fields tour in Watsonville w/ CA Strawberry Commision – Santa Cruz wharf #StrawberryLand #photography

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.

Strawberry fields tour in Watsonville w/ CA Strawberry Commision – Shinta Kawahara Farm with Rod Koda #StrawberryLand #photography

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.

Strawberry fields tour in Watsonville w/ CA Strawberry Commision – Shinta Kawahara Farm with Rod Koda #StrawberryLand #photography

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.

Strawberry fields tour in Watsonville w/ CA Strawberry Commision – Dr. Hillary Q. Thomas, Senior Research Manager #StrawberryLand #photography

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.

Strawberry fields tour in Watsonville w/ CA Strawberry Commision – Lunch by Los Lobos Truck #StrawberryLand #photography

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.

Strawberry fields tour in Watsonville w/ CA Strawberry Commision – Lunch by Los Lobos Truck #StrawberryLand #photography

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:

All travel and lodging expenses provided by the CA Strawberries Commission. All opinions are my own.

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Donna July 24, 2014 - 10:34 am

I so love strawberries… what a wonderful opportunity! Looks like you had an amazing time!

Kathy July 25, 2014 - 5:51 am

That looks like so much fun. We love strawberries. So much you can do with them.

Kelsey Apley July 25, 2014 - 7:07 am

I adore Strawberries, so this would be a fabulous place to visit!!! Look at all the fun and man all the food looks out of this world!!!!

Penelope Guzman July 25, 2014 - 8:54 am

This looks like a fun place to go to. Those meals look really good. You’re making me want some strawberries.

Colleen July 25, 2014 - 10:31 am

That looks like a great time and I had no idea that most strawberries came from CA.

Crystal July 25, 2014 - 10:35 pm

That sounds like so much fun! I love to go to local farms and participate in the fruit & veggie picking tours. But this is so much fancier!

Kathleen Bunn July 26, 2014 - 8:32 pm

Looks like you had an amazing time. I had no idea California produced so many strawberries.

Tammy Litke (@threedifferent) July 26, 2014 - 9:38 pm

That sounds like one of the tastiest press events ever! I would have certainly overindulged in eating all that great food – I love strawberries 🙂

Jenn July 26, 2014 - 11:43 pm

Now here’s an event I’d love to taste my way through. The strawberry you picked looks huge!

vanessa: thequeenofswag July 27, 2014 - 11:13 pm

I would love to visit the strawberry fields one day. It looks like an amazing time.

Raijean July 28, 2014 - 12:35 am

It looks like you guys had a ball, kudos!

Anne - Mommy Has to Work July 28, 2014 - 6:49 am

We’ve gone strawberry picking before but nothing like this. What a great experience!

Debbie Denny July 29, 2014 - 3:23 am

That tour looks great. Spectacular strawberries. Yumm.

Debbie L. July 29, 2014 - 3:31 am

I did not know that CA produces 90% of our strawberries! I am so glad that the majority of our strawberries are grown in the USA!

Kay Adeola July 29, 2014 - 3:49 am

I love strawberries.This looks like a great day out,looks like you had a great time.

Robin (Massrhole Mommy) July 29, 2014 - 4:34 am

My kids love strawberries, but we usually get local ones from our Farmer’s Market.

Jenn @TheRebelChick July 29, 2014 - 6:49 am

Of course I am partial to Florida strawberries (being that I live in Florida) but I love the California strawberries during the summer when ours are out of season! It looks like you had a great time and those berries look delicious!

Janel (A Mom's Take) July 29, 2014 - 8:08 am

I can’t believe the size of those strawberries, they are huge, and look so yummy. Nothing like berries right off the vine.

Mitch July 29, 2014 - 8:34 am

I love fresh, ripe strawberries! This looks like the coolest blog trip!

Betsy Mitchell July 29, 2014 - 8:39 am

What a fun experience! Those strawberries look absolutely delicious.

Jaime July 29, 2014 - 11:33 am

I LOVE strawberries. I wish they were in season in NC all-year round. And I had no idea so many came from California!

Tracey July 29, 2014 - 12:12 pm

I love strawberries. I’ve always wanted to go strawberry picking!

deb July 29, 2014 - 12:26 pm

Strawberries are my favorite fruit! The food they served looks amazing. Sounds like everyone had a great time.

Lindsey @ Redhead Baby Mama July 29, 2014 - 12:50 pm

What a gorgeous spread of foods (strawberry bruschetta!!)! And that first photo of ya’ll in the field is so crisp and clear!

Dawn July 29, 2014 - 3:30 pm

It is absolutely gorgeous there! I’d love to take a tour of the strawberry fields and then drive up the coast. Just beautiful.

Amber Conaway July 29, 2014 - 4:13 pm

I love all the pictures! I have always wanted to go to a strawberry field, or even better have one of my own!

Pam July 29, 2014 - 5:51 pm

That looks like an amazing time. All of the food seems delicious.

Angela July 29, 2014 - 6:02 pm

I didn’t know that CA produced that much strawberries. I was thinking FL grew more. Anyway, I love them!

Tami July 29, 2014 - 6:25 pm

I would love to tour a strawberry field. It’s one of my favourite fruits. I can eat them all day long. 🙂

Shell July 29, 2014 - 6:52 pm

I had no idea that CA produced so many of our strawberries! I love strawberry picking.

Carly Anderson July 29, 2014 - 7:44 pm

I would love to go to a place like this to pick fresh strawberries! The strawberry BBQ sauce sounds so good!

cam | bibs and baubles July 29, 2014 - 11:19 pm

Everything looks so good. I want all of the food!

mommy2jam July 30, 2014 - 12:07 am

I think this wonderful and now I am craving strawberries. These are so good and I love all the recipe ideas.

Maria Oller July 30, 2014 - 1:05 am

I love strawberries and when it s season I will bake, cook, fry , make salads, cakes, desserts, sauces, jelly and whatever is possible with them so yummy

Shannon Gosney July 30, 2014 - 2:59 am

I attended a California Strawberries Event and loved it! Sounds like you had an amazing time. 🙂

Rosey July 30, 2014 - 5:07 am

Wow, 90% is a lot! Those strawberries do look huge and tasty. And hurrah for chefs who turn them into something great and bring out the dishes for tasting! 🙂

Laura July 30, 2014 - 6:30 am

That looks like an incredible experience. I love strawberries and would have gobbled up those tasty looking treats. After taking pictures. I love new fun twists on cooking!

Megan @ C'mon Get Crafty July 30, 2014 - 7:34 am

I would have loved a tour like that! That strawberry basil bruschetta looks amazing.

krystal July 30, 2014 - 8:45 am

What a great outing! I would love to pick my own strawberries…on a day when it’s not so hot of course! We grow strawberries here in Florida, and we have strawberry and blueberry pickings.

Chrystal @ YUM eating July 30, 2014 - 9:47 am

I love pretty much anything you can make with a strawberry. So yum. I love it when its berry season around here.

Christie July 30, 2014 - 11:18 am

What a fun event! Those strawberries look fantastic

Carly from The Puzzled Palate July 30, 2014 - 12:36 pm

I would never leave! You guys can find me passed out in the strawberry fields full to the brim with delicious berries!

Lori July 30, 2014 - 2:00 pm

I love strawberries! Looks like you had such a good time.

Tonia Sanders July 30, 2014 - 2:35 pm

I would love to have some of the strawberry and basil. Looks like you all had a great visit.

lisa July 30, 2014 - 3:09 pm

Beautiful strawberry fields – makes my mouth water. And those eats! Jealous but what a fun experience!

Dawn July 30, 2014 - 5:30 pm

The almond cake with strawberry caramel sounds delicious! Looks like you guys had a blast!

Toni July 30, 2014 - 6:24 pm

Oh man that is one trip I would love to have been on. I am a huge fan of strawberries.

Amanda July 30, 2014 - 8:50 pm

These pictures are amazing! I want to try all of these yummy treats and enjoy those strawberries!

Marina @ Mommy Snippets July 31, 2014 - 4:29 am

This trip looks awesome! Fresh strawberries are the best.

Cyndi @ MrsWrightWrites July 31, 2014 - 4:30 am

I’ve always wanted to pick strawberries. You don’t see them home grown as often here in the Midwest.

Cassie @ Southeast by Midwest July 31, 2014 - 8:08 am

We have a U Pick strawberry field near us. I’m going to talk to the hubs about going there next weekend for some FRESH strawberries 🙂

Danielle @ We Have It All July 31, 2014 - 12:46 pm

Wow, what an amazing place to visit! I would LOVE to go there. The food looks soooo good and those strawberries are HUGE!!

Emily August 1, 2014 - 7:37 am

Strawberry bruschetta! Yes please! Looks like you had an amazing time. I love strawberries!

Jessica (Savory Experiments) August 1, 2014 - 6:00 pm

Oh my- what a fabulous trip and experience!!! I love strawberry recipes- especially in salads, yum!

Brandy August 3, 2014 - 1:07 pm

What a fun trip and oh how I love strawberries! This looks like such an elegant and fun place to visit.

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