While much of the United States may still be in the throes of winter, Tanaka Farms in Irvine, California, is enjoying strawberry season. It’s been many years since I picked strawberries (long overdue), so my daughter and I decided to correct the oversight. We had a few options as to how we could get fresh berries, including buying a plant or purchasing berries already picked and boxed. We decided to take the Strawberry Tour because it was a wagon ride!
The wagons make the trek around the fields every half hour from mid-morning until mid-afternoon. We were lucky to get an early ride before the sun was too high in the sky.
Our guide made us promise, in fact. take an oath, that we would eat whatever vegetable he offered. I like vegetables, so I wasn’t too worried. We rode along past rows of carrots, beets, spinach, and Maui onions. At least these are familiar everyday vegetables. How difficult would it be to keep this promise?
Okay, I don’t usually eat green onions unless they’ve been chopped and added to something else. Here was my big chance to try one whole and uncooked. Halley and both fulfilled our promise. Guess what! They were good!
The wagon moved on around the farm, and we continued to chomp on carrots, cilantro, bok choy, and celery. Yum! Nothing like getting a free lunch. And the real treat was yet to come.
We passed farm workers picking carrots. When I worked on a farm, I had to pull my carrots. How does it work these days? Does a machine do it and then the workers pick them up? Either way, one spends time bending over out in the sun.
We didn’t get to eat these carrots. I think they will be bunched and sold in the farm’s produce stand.
Eventually, we came to the strawberry patch. We all had little plastic baskets and were given ten or fifteen minutes to fill them with berries. Our guide gave us a quick demonstration on how to pick berries before setting us loose in the field.
Picking strawberries at Tanaka Farms is simple! How nice of them to put the berries on trellises above the ground. The berries almost fall into one’s basket. Well, I may be exaggerating slightly. The best part was that we could eat berries as we worked. Forget the green onions! I’ll take a strawberry over an onion any day. These berries were wonderfully sweet!
The fifteen minutes went by quickly; all too soon we were back in the wagon heading for the front of the farm. Halley and I stopped by the produce stand and purchased some fresh vegetables before leaving. Who could resist?
Tanaka Farms is located in Irvine. Admission is free, but there is a charge to ride the wagon. This is a great place for a family outing.
To see more images from my visit to Tanaka Farms, please click here.