A Visit to a California Strawberry Farm

oxnard-strawberry-fields

when California Strawberries invited me to the 365 Day of Strawberries Farm & Culinary Event, and to take a tour of a California Strawberry Farm, i would have to say, that i was beyond excited. to me, strawberries are the perfect fruit. when i eat a strawberry, there is something about it that makes me so happy….whether it’s the color, the taste or it’s smell, i’m not sure, probably all the above, but i just love them. being able to tour a working farm to learn about strawberries, how they are grown, how they are harvested and where they go after being picked was a big treat.

and besides learning about my favorite fruit (sorry watermelon), i was also able to experience the beauty of natures goodness in pure form. i mean, just look at these views.

strawberry-field-panoramastrawberry-field-irrigation

so myself, my littlest son Vann and my mom, headed up to Terry Farm in to Oxnard, California, where a lot of the California strawberries are grown. more than four hundred family farmers grow strawberries on approximately 40,000 acres from Orange County, all the way to the Monterey Bay. rich, sandy coastal soils, western ocean exposure and moderate temperatures, give California the perfect combination for a year-round strawberry growing season.  yes, a 12 month growing season!

we took a tractor pulled wagon around the fields and learned so many fun facts about strawberries. who would have thought there was so much to learn.

terry-farm-oxnardoxnard-farm

we learned the importance of training the people who work in the fields and handle the strawberries to have the cleanest, germ-free hands possible. here is Vann using fluorescent particle infused soap to check if he removed all the germs and dirt from his hands. it takes a very thorough hand cleaning to make your hands clean enough to work with the berries in the field. clean hands are important to reduce the risk of disease from humans to food.

strawberry-field-sanitation

this is William Terry, a fifth generation farmer teaching us how to properly pick a strawberry, how the fields are set up, and how the strawberry workers harvest the strawberries. workers at this farm are paid a minimum of $9 per hour with a bonus per box wage. with that bonus, the average worker is making around $22 per hour.

California’s strawberry farmers are among the most progressive and environmentally conscious in the state. they have invested millions of dollars in research and sustainable farming practices to reduce pesticide use and environmental impacts. he shared with us how they are able to use less pesticides by only using what is needed for a specific problem, and how they reduce bad bug populations with other bugs…a sort of “bug warfare.”

terry-farm-terrys-berries
heart-shaped-strawberry

each row of strawberries are planted in mounds that are about 18″ high. this makes it easier to harvest the strawberries because workers don’t have to bend over as much, reducing back problems. the plastic is used to keep the mounds of dirt moist with water. if they dry out, the mounds would collapse. inside the plastic, there are laser cut strips of irrigation material that is placed every 6 inches along the row. this cuts down the amount of water used to water the strawberries significantly, and makes water usage very efficient.

strawberry-field-irrigation

the fields are planted and then completely plowed and replanted twice a year, February and October. here are some fields that are getting plowed and prepped for planting season.

planting-strawberry-farm

in the fields we picked and ate so many strawberries. they are so delicious! here’s my mom…she enjoyed the strawberries as much as i did.

california-strawberry-farmingbest-strawberries-california

let me tell you some great facts that i learned about California Strawberries…

nearly 90%  of U.S. grown fresh strawberries come from California, with more than 1.7 billion pounds harvested annually. if California were a country, it would be the world’s largest producer of strawberries!

Strawberries are a Superfruit 8 strawberries contain more vitamin C than the average orange. they are low in sugar, with only around 50 calories, and are a great source of fiber, folate and potassium.

Strawberries are good for your health  nutrients and phytochemicals in strawberries help maintain a healthy heart, boost memory, reduce total cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of developing some types of cancer. eating strawberries more than twice a week appears to delay cognitive aging up to 2.5 years, potassium found in strawberries can help control blood pressure and fight strokes AND the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has identified strawberries, as one of the top 10 superfoods for a diabetes meal plan.

did you know that there is no such thing as a GMO strawberry? that is right, there are no genetically modified strawberries commercially grown and shipped. varieties of strawberries are developed for different climates and growing conditions, but these varieties are developed using traditional breeding methods that involve two parent plants that are crossed using their flowers.

strawberry-converse-shoes

by the end of the day, Vann was in awe of the farmers. they really know their stuff. growing strawberries is more technical than i would have ever imagined…and they do a great job. Vann told me he wanted to be a farmer when he grows up. i could get used to having fresh strawberries all the time.

terry-farm-strawberry-oxnardbut i would have to say…eating the strawberries was the best part. and i haven’t even shown you all the yummy food. you can use strawberries for appetizers, entrees, dessert and even ketchup. i will be sharing all about the food in another post.

it was a good good day!

best-california-strawberries-recipestrawberry-fields

touring the strawberry fields was really incredible. you can take a peek at the events of the day here.  or head over to the official California Strawberries website for more strawberry facts and some amazing recipes.

I Love California Strawberries Badge{disclosure: this is a sponsored post. i was an invited guest of California Strawberries to tour the farm and learn about the strawberries. all thoughts and opinions are a bazillion times my own. psssst….i LOVE strawberries. }

 

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle Recipe

Easy Strawberry Shortcake Trifle Recipe

the other night i hosted a baby shower for a girlfriend of mine. since my husband had been out of town all week, and with all the normal mom responsibilities…namely being a chauffeur for my boys as baseball season is in full swing, i found myself not being able to prepare any “fancy” desserts for the shower. or should i say any desserts that required more than 30 minutes of prep.

i had already ordered a batch of “slutty” brownies from Meringue Bakeshop. OMG….did i just say that? i’m not one to use words like that, but really, this is what they are called. google them and you’ll see just how fabulous these brownies are. and since i had the chocolate dish covered, i needed to make another dessert that was completely the opposite of rich, chocolately goodness. so that’s when i decided that i needed something light and fruity.

so, it was a Strawberry Shortcake Trifle to the rescue. did you know how easy trifles are to make? really easy, and there is no baking per say…unless you want to scratch make the items you are putting in the trifle. and i had no time for that, i bought everything already made. so really this dessert is only semi-homemade. but even so, look how beautiful it turned out. the layers are fabulous. you can thank the yummy California strawberries for that.

Easy Strawberry Shortcake

and the main trick to making this dish taste over-the-top was using homemade whip cream. even though i used a store bought angel food cake, and instant pudding from a box, the taste of the homemade whip cream made it taste heavenly.

Semi-homemade Strawberry Shortcake Trifle Recipe

below i have included this Strawberry Shortcake Trifle recipe. it’s so simple, you really don’t need a recipe. the picture pretty much explain it all. but since i’m at it, here is the recipe.
strawberry-shortcake-trifle-recipe

to make a strawberry shortcake trifle, you will need a trifle dish. for this recipe, i used an 8 inch dish. you can just as well use a bowl, or any see through glass container, the key in this dessert is presentation. you want to see the beautiful layers. this is what makes this simple dessert really exciting. also, it is 100% okay to adjust the recipe. you can used any fruit you think would taste good. you can add more or less. you can use all store bought items, or homemade. since this is a no-bake dessert, you can pretty much layer any ingredients that you would like.

ingredients
1 angel food cake (store bought is fine, pound cake is good too!)
1 large box instant vanilla pudding, prepared
4 cups of sliced strawberries
whipped cream

directions
• cut the angel food cake into bite sized pieces
• in your trifle dish, place 1/2 of the angel food cake pieces into the bottom. slightly press them down making the first layer even.
• pour 1/2 of the pudding into the center of the dish. then spread it evenly over the angel food cake layer. the key to a trifle is the layering, so be careful not to let the ingredients smear around the sides of the trifle dish.
• next, layer 1/2 of the strawberry slices over the pudding. it makes a nicer display to put the best strawberries against the dish where they will be seen.
• now you will repeat layering the angel food cake, the pudding and the strawberries in the trifle dish making two layers of each.
• the final step is topping off the dessert with whipped cream. i prefer to use homemade whip cream as i feel it makes all the difference. just whip a pint of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form and add powdered sugar to taste.
• the dessert is now complete and ready to wow your guests. enjoy!

strawberry-shortcake-dessert