This past spring, I tried to grow strawberries. I thought it would be so amazing to pick juicy berries right from my own yard, but that didn’t exactly work out. I recently had the chance to learn why during a trip to Driscoll’s berry farms with the Whole Foods produce team. In a quick one-day California visit, I think I ate my weight in (darn good) berries. Of course, I like to buy local as much as possible, but we have harsh summers here and my fruit options are sometimes pretty limited.
I thought I’d share just few notes from the trip that I personally found interesting:
– I was surprised to learn that Driscoll’s growers are all contracted independent farmers. Berries are picked straight from the field and arrive at Whole Foods within about 4 days. I think I expected to see one giant farm and a bunch of machines, but that was not the case. We visited three farms and met with owners who were really passionate about the craft of organic farming.
– The demand for organics is higher than ever before, which is good because it means more effort is being spent to convert conventional farms to organic. (Land that is already organic in these ideal areas is hard to come by). It’s a long expensive process that takes at least 3 years for the soil to adapt. So it’s a huge benefit for an independent organic farmer to partner with Driscoll’s for support during the transition. (source: Roy Fuentes, of Fuentes organic berry farms).
– Each container of berries has a code you can type in that will tell you exactly what farm those specific berries came from. They use this as a tool to track down a specific crop if someone writes in with a problem. I think it’s nice because I find peace of mind in knowing where my food comes from.
– Berries need to be grown in temperate environments – sunny days, cool nights, no dramatic shifts in temperature. Which explains my bitter & seedy local strawberries – Texas isn’t “temperate.”
a couple of fun facts:
– Ladybugs are used as one method of pest control in organic growing.
– Blackberries, straight off the vine, taste like candy.
and a few recipes: