And more importantly, kids can join in. By picking strawberries, carrots and other fresh fare right off the plant or from the soil, they can learn crucial lessons about where food really comes from, and understand the benefits of choosing what’s fresh and seasonally grown.
Plus, riding a tractor and playing in the dirt is fun!
After all the winter rain, this is a great season to visit Tanaka Farms. Now is the perfect time of year, with the farm’s vibrant crops and fruit in perfect balance with the lush green hills of the surrounding open space and nearby Strawberry Farms Golf Course.
The best season for sweet strawberries is now into June, while melons will be seen in July and August. There’s also other produce grown on the farm, which often includes Swiss chard, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, Maui onions, and more. The fruits and vegetables available varies throughout the growing season, and because of the rains on certain days strawberries may be in shorter supply, so call or check the website to be sure.
Farmer Tanaka, his wife, Shirley, and his son, Farmer Kenny, own and operate Tanaka Farms, which is a 30-acre working farm. According to the farm’s website, Tanaka Farms began with great-grandfather Teruo, who immigrated from Hiroshima-ken, Japan, to California. His son, known today as grandfather George, was born in Dinuba. Farmer Tanaka is a third-generation Japanese American (“Sansei”), who was born and raised in Huntington Beach, and has a degree in Agricultural Business.
In 1998, Tanaka Farms began using Responsible Farming Methods after land development prompted a move of the farming operation from its former location at Irvine Center Dr. and Bake Parkway to its current location at University Dr. and Michelson Dr. “This means food safety is our top priority,” the family says on the website. “We do our best to follow organic growing guidelines but will deviate if necessary to save a crop.”
There are several options for produce picking. Patrons (individuals or groups) can take a tractor ride, which loops around the entire grounds and makes several stops at the different areas to pick cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, etc., finishing with strawberries. If one is short on time, skip the tractor ride and pluck your own berries off the “U-Pick” planters adjacent to the market stand. With both options, you pay for what you pick. Some farm tours are free (other than paying for the strawberries picked); others include an $18 fee. Weekend tours don’t require a reservation, certain weekday tours do. It is a bit confusing, so check the website or inquire at the farm for more information.