Tulelake Farm Advisor
University of California
Tulelake Farm Advisor

Roadside strawberry stands offer particularly flavorful fruit

Central Valley residents from Visalia to Sacramento look forward every year to the beginning of strawberry season in early April, when roadside strawberry stands operated by Hmong and Mien farmers open to the public.

These farms grow strawberry varieties such as Chandler and Camarosa that haven't traded flavor for shelf life – they don't ship or store well, but they are far sweeter than varieties usually sold in stores, and they reach their peak ripeness and flavor in the fields next to the strawberry stands.

Strawberries sold at farm stands are typically sweeter and more flavorful than varieties sold in stores.

As strawberry season opens this year, farmers are hoping that customers will still stop by the stands to pick up their fresh, seasonal strawberries, and also that they will observe 6-foot social distancing and other guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19. UC Cooperative Extension agricultural assistant Michael Yang and I were interviewed on a local news station to encourage Fresno residents to practice these guidelines while supporting local farmers.

To assist Fresno strawberry farmers, the UCCE small farms team in Fresno County developed, printed, and distributed signs for roadside strawberry stands reminding customers to observe social distancing and other safety practices, as well as guidelines for farm stands to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Versions of the signs were also developed for strawberry stands in Merced and Sacramento, as well as a general sign for local produce at any farm stand.

Signs and safety guidelines were printed with funding from the Western Extension Risk Management Education Center, and Michael Yang distributed large printed versions of the signs to all strawberry stands on the Fresno County Fruit Trail map in Fresno County. These materials have also been shared with UCCE small farms and food systems advisors as well as nonprofit and agency partners and county Agricultural Commissioner's offices, and they are available for printing on the UCCE Fresno strawberry website.

UC Cooperative Extension distributed signs to roadside strawberry stands with guidelines for safe shopping during the COVID-19 crisis.
 
Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, Ph.D., is the UC Cooperative Extension advisor to small-scale farmers in Fresno and Tulare counties.
Posted on Monday, April 20, 2020 at 9:07 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Food

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