Daren Gee is the founder and owner of DB Specialty Farms, one of California’s largest independent strawberry growers. His strawberries can be purchased fresh from the field at the Daren’s Berries stand just east of Highway 101 off Stowell Road. We recently spoke with Daren to get the scoop on Santa Maria Valley strawberries for our Three Questions series:
Why do strawberries thrive in the Santa Maria Valley?
It’s two things—the soil and the weather. We have a lot of sandy loam soil, which strawberries love. Also, we enjoy a mild coastal climate, where it’s rarely too hot or too cold. Most of the time, we hover between 50 and 75 degrees, which is perfect for growing strawberries.
What sets the strawberries of the Santa Maria Valley apart from other regions?
They just taste better. I can’t really say exactly why they taste better, but I hear this a lot from others, too, so there must be something to it. Santa Maria Valley strawberries just have a certain magic in them.
Where does the Santa Maria Valley rank in the big picture of strawberries?
Over the last four years, the valley’s strawberry acreage has increased faster than in any other area. In the not-too-distant future, we may emerge as top strawberry region on the Central Coast in terms of acreage and production.