Strawberry season is here. And it’s berry, berry exciting.
Strawberries begin to spout in the Santa Maria Valley right about the official start of springtime, where more than 20 million trays and 10 varieties of delicious, handpicked strawberries are produced annually.
According to the California Strawberry Commission, nearly every strawberry enjoyed in the United States each day comes from a California field, where it’s grown with passion and pride. Strawberries are California’s number one crop in value per acre, with California farmers growing the bulk of the nation’s strawberries on less than one percent of the state’s total farmland. Strawberries are also the fourth highest value crop and the sixth overall agriculture commodity in the state.
Strawberries grow well on the coast of California because they love the ocean breezes and cool temperatures. Strawberry farmers first till the soil with a tractor, then make rows that are covered with plastic so weeds won’t grow. Next, small strawberry plants are planted in holes in the plastic where they grow for three months. Soon, the plant will grow flowers and each flower will turn into a small green strawberry. As the strawberry grows, it will turn white, then red. Each strawberry plant will keep producing more strawberries throughout the season, so there will be strawberries to harvest for several months.
The ancient Romans, and even the ancient Greeks, ate strawberries. Most people think the strawberry got its name because children in the nineteenth century threaded the berries into straw and offered them for sale. In the Middle Ages, strawberries were carved into designs in churches because they represented goodness. Kings and queens served strawberries at important events because they thought the berries would make people peaceful and wealthy. California strawberries have had a rich history in farming due to the opportunities it has provided for thousands of immigrants to California.
The Chavez family has managed L&G Farms for more than 30 years, starting with one acre, and now overseeing more than 200 acres in the Santa Maria Valley. Luis Chavez came from Jalisco, Mexico with the courage and desire to start his own strawberry farm. The family-owned business is the epitome of Santa Maria Valley’s deep roots in culture and agriculture in the area.
Did you know there are about 200 seeds on an average size strawberry? It also takes 30 days for each strawberry to mature from flower to fruit. California strawberries are packed with vital nutrients of vitamin C, potassium, folate, fiber and antioxidants.
Santa Maria Valley strawberries are renowned for their juicy, flavorful character. While they are distributed both nationally and internationally, there is nothing like enjoying them fresh from the fields at local groceries, fruit stands, restaurants and farmers markets. You will find the best of the best strawberries from early spring through early autumn. Here is a handy guide of Farmers Markets in the Santa Maria Valley.
Strawberries find their ultimate showcase each April during the Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival at the Santa Maria Fairpark. This berry bash features strawberry varietal sampling, strawberry desserts, educational exhibits and old-fashioned carnival entertainment.
Santa Maria Valley is the perfect destination and ideal home base for those looking to enjoy the history, culture and natural surroundings of California’s Central Coast. You’ll find the area nestled amongst rolling rows of produce and the foothills of Santa Barbara Wine Country. The wide variety of affordable and convenient lodging options makes it easy to access beautiful beaches by day and indulge in the iconic barbecue by night. You can do it all #SantaMariaStyle.
*** In Santa Maria Valley, there’s so much to do from here. Hit the road and explore it all with our 24 hiking trails, 34 tasting rooms, seven unique AVAs, 13 beaches, and a growing selection of local breweries, all within a beautiful 30-minute drive. There is no need to venture far if you are looking for sand dunes, cycling and authentic Santa Maria Style dining. You’ll find it’s the perfect home base, where you can eat, drink and do more for less.