Spring is upon us, bringing with it beautiful and bountiful strawberries.
Harry’s Berries have been growing strawberries in Oxnard for over 40 years. They grow two varieties of strawberries: Gaviota and Seascape. Gaviotas have a softer texture and are a low- acid and juicy berry. They are also a sweeter berry. Seascapes are firmer, more acidic than the Gaviota and have a wild berry flavor. Seascapes will not be in for another few weeks, but generally have a longer season than the Gaviota. Harry’s Berries wait to pick their berries until they have reached full color. After a berry is picked the color will continue to develop but the flavor will not. Harry’s Berries pick their berries the day before coming to market and any berries that are not sold that day will be used for juice or jam. They farm organically, although they choose not to pay for organic certification. Harry’s Berries stopped using methyl bromide to grow strawberries long before the statewide ban and instead use beneficial insects. Wildflowers grow between the rows of planted strawberries to attract bees for pollination. You can find Harry’s Berries at the Wednesday, Saturday Downtown and Sunday markets.
Jerry Rutiz of Rutiz Farms is the only farm in California to grow the variety of strawberry that Rutiz calls the Rutiz Farm Berry. It is a variety mostly found in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North Africa. It is a sweet, medium acid berry that has a slight kiwi taste. It is bred for its complex flavor and highly fragrant aroma as well as for growing in non-fumigated soil without pesticides. Be sure to try the rare Rutiz Farm Berry at the Wednesday Market. Rutiz expects his strawberry season to last through August.
Many other farmers grow delicious varieties of strawberries, as well. Tamai Farms, at the Wednesday, Saturday Downtown and Pico markets, grows Camarosa, Ventana and Chandler strawberries. The Camarosa is a newer variety of strawberry that is a very sturdy, highly colored berry. It is an early and good producing berry. It was originally bred for shipability, and the Camarosas brought to the Farmers’ Markets are some of the best available. Tamai Farms also grow Ventana and Chandler strawberries. Trevino Farms at the Wednesday and Pico Farmers’ Markets grow Chandler strawberries. Chandlers are an older variety of berry that is now being phased out due to newer varieties. They are harder to find but certainly worth tasting. Trevino Farm even leaves the stems on the berries, making them perfect for dipping! Fairview Gardens also grows certified organic Seascape strawberries. They have been farming sustainably for over 30 years and believe that good farming is the key to delicious produce.
There are so many more farmers at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets who grow wonderful strawberries, so be sure to do a taste test of your own to find your favorites.