strawberries

Strawberry and Blueberry Picking Guide for Sacramento. (Sacramento, CA)

El Dorado Hills Strawberry Picking

It’s strawberry and blueberry season in Sacramento and there is no shortage of farms to visit this time of year. The lower foothills have another week or two of prime picking and then we slowly shift to the higher elevations where farms in Apple Hill (Camino, CA) are starting to open. Other berries start becoming available as the summer goes on so keep watching for reviews on some of our favorite farms this summer

With the summer heat our favorite times to visit local farms is at opening time early in the morning or late in the evening. Mid day picking is intense and the heat can make for miserable tots. We advise wearing heavy boots like rainboots or cowboy style boots for extra protection from terrain and snakes, hats and layered clothing. We usually try to bring a picnic whenever we set out to have when we finish picking and lots of water.

Here is our list of the farms that are open now.  Many of our favorite farms have already closed for the season or are gearing up operations for next year.  This is a list of area farms that are open.  If we missed something let us know!

Strawberry You Pick Farms Near Sacramento

Davis Ranch
You Pick strawberry farm and farmstand.
3501 Jackson Rd
Sloughhouse, CA

El Dorado Hills Natural Farms
You pick strawberry farm and limited farmstead
1941 Old Bass Lake Rd
El Dorado Hills, CA

Blueberry You Pick Farms Near Sacramento

Bolster’s Hilltop Ranch
You pick blueberries
2000 Larsen Drive
Camino, CA

Goodness Orchard
You pick blueberries by appointment only
4341 Pony Express Trail
Camino, CA

Once in a Blue Moon Berries
You pick organic blueberries
1820 Arroyo Vista Way
El Dorado Hills, CA

 

Davis Ranch Strawberry Picking (Sloughouse, CA)

Just a short drive from Sacramento or Folsom, Davis Ranch is a local farmstand that has year-round farm activities for visitors young and old. Davis Ranch is a working farm and produce stand located in Sloughhouse CA. Known for it’s famous Sloughhouse Sweet Corn, we first heard about the farm when a coworker of my Husband brought us a bag of the sweetest corn we had ever tried almost ten years ago. If you haven’t had our famous corn, ask someone who has and they will tell you what you are missing. Davis Ranch hosts events throughout the year along with you-pick vegetables and strawberries. They also offer choose and cut Christmas Trees available starting the day after Thanksgiving and going until the week of Christmas.

During the spring the farm offers visitors farm-grown asparagus and it’s worth the drive! It’s so sweet and fresh that now we only buy asparagus from Davis Ranch. Around the same time, usually April or May strawberries start ripening in the you-pick area. Unlike other strawberry farms this one has raised pots of stawberries that are easy to pick without bending down.

The strawberry patch is located behind the farmstand next to the parking area. If there is no attendant at the strawberry picking area, guests are asked to come to the farmstand where they can pick up baskets and scissors along with instructions for picking.

Expect to spend about 20-30 minutes picking for each basket. It gets hot in this part of California especially during late spring and summer so take breaks at the shaded picnic tables next to the you-pick area and bring lots of water! After berries are picked and baskets are full payment is made back at the farmstead registers. The farmstand takes all forms of payment. Don’t forget to pick up seasonal farmstand favorites like oranges, cucumbers, squash, cherries, melons and more!

We like to pack a picnic and cool off in the shade after we make our purchases. Since school groups can sometimes be visiting the farm too, a picnic blanket is recommended if the tables are full. There is no running water at the farm so plan accordingly. Restrooms are outhouse style.

For more tips read about our visit last year to Davis Ranch.

Davis Ranch is waiting for you to explore at 3501 Jackson Rd, Sloughhouse, CA 95683 or reach them by phone at 916.682.2658 or online at davisranchproduce.com

El Dorado Hills Natural Farms. (El Dorado Hills, CA)

Strawberry PIcking

We usually drive long distances to find in-season local fruit and vegetables that we can pick ourselves. This time of year, we don’t have to go far to get our fix. We live in the foothills outside of Sacramento, CA and we have some aweome local you-pick farms less than five miles from our house.

Strawberry season usually starts sometime in late March or early April and continues through November depending on the weather that year. We watch our local you-pick organic strawberry farm closely and since we drive by almost every day this is easy to do. El Dorado Hills Natural Farms is located just off Hwy 50 in El Dorado Hills off the Bass Lake Rd. exit. For anyone traveling to South Lake Tahoe this farm is a really easy stop off since the farm is actually visible from the highway.

Strawberries

El Dorado Hills Natural Farms is the only chicken, fruit and vegetable farm on the western slope of El Dorado County and they offer seasonal berries and some other selections along with farm eggs. The farm was a large dairy farm in the early-to-mid 1900’s and now has returned to its agricultural beginnings. The local farmer owners follow all-natural pest and weed control methods to provide pesticide-free products.

Strawberry picking is open weekends in the early season and opens more days as the season goes on. The El Dorado Hills Natural Farms Facebook page is the best resource to see when the farm is open and what’s available. The farm hosts community events complete with music and food throughout the year along with their public picking hours. There is also a farmstand during peak season for those customers that don’t want to pick.

El Dorado Hills Natural Farms

Since El Dorado Hills is rattlesnake territory we make sure to wear our thickest rainboots or outdoor boots and keep a vigilant watch on our tots while they are picking. Some picnic tables are available for snacking or a quick lunch. Parking is in a dirt lot right in front of the farm entrance. The farm is cash only so hit the ATM before you go.

EL Dorado Hills Natural FarmsStrawberry PickingStrawberries

El Dorado Hills Natural Farms is located at 1941 Old Bass Lake Rd., El Dorado Hills, CA and hours vary by season.

Farm Tots Weekend.

Pancakes and Strawberries

It’s been hot here in California this week and it got so nice yesterday we all took a quick icy dip in our pool for the first swimming day of the season. It didn’t last long, and now there are more storms headed our way. We are going to try to get out in between rain downpours this weekend to pick strawberries! Two of our favorite local organic strawberry farms opened this week and we have been waiting to get some of the juicy local berries for ourselves! I’m so ready to make strawberry jam and syrup. Two of my favorites! We got our outside furniture all set up last weekend so I even got to have breakfast out by the pool this morning. Pictured here. At least I got out while I could! Here is what we are obsessed with this weekend. What are you up to?

Want to know where to find local strawberries in the Sacramento area? Here is our guide from last year

Last year we were picking strawberries in March, this year the two local farms for picking organic strawberries are just opening this week

Since we are talking about strawberries we definitely are going to try these Strawberry and Vanilla pancakes

Why stop now let’s just say I’m packing some make ahead lunches with this Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Goat Cheese

We are trying to figure out how to escape some of our obligations on the weekends to attend some food festivals and family friendly events this month too

Strawberry Stands. (Sacramento County, CA and Surrounding Areas)

When I first moved to Sacramento almost ten years ago one of my favorite sights was the adorable strawberry stands that seemed to be around every turn.  The rustic white paint.  Red strawberries adorning the sides of the old fashioned stands.  It was one of my favorite parts of this time of year.


After further investigation I found that there is a strawberry stand in almost every part of Sacramento within a ten-mile drive.  There are over 90 stands total.  The stands are family owned and set up so that locals can purchase their strawberries right from the farmer.

The idea of the strawberry stand is pretty much my urban farming philosophy all bundled up in a cute package.  Having a small urban farm that’s only purpose is to provide just picked produce for their neighborhood.  The stands are set up alongside the land where the strawberries are farmed.  There are picked at the peak of ripeness and then sold right there by stand owners and family.  Owners get to know their neighbors and farmers and residents work and live together in perfect harmony.

I wanted to know more about these small-scale local strawberry farmers so I researched further.  I found out that about five years ago UC Berkeley and UC Davis Cooperative Extension and a grant from the USDA National Research Initiative set out to tell the story of the strawberry farmers in Sacramento.

Most of the 95 strawberry farm stands in and around the Sacramento region are owned and operated by Mien and Hmong refugees from Laos, a small country in Southeast Asia that neighbors Vietnam.
When the U.S. left Southeast Asia in 1975, hundreds of thousands of Hmong and Mien fled their homeland to avoid persecution. Over 120,000 were eventually resettled in the U.S. The population today has expanded to an estimated 300,000, with nearly 35,000 residing in the Sacramento area alone.  Most of the refugees were farmers in Laos. In an effort to rebuild their lives, many turned to farming in the U.S. Most growers lease small plots of land and grow several varieties of strawberries.

The scientists working on the grant identified the local growers and expanded their businesses.  They found that the average strawberry stand only makes about $15,000 a year in a perfect growing year.  They tried to increase the stand’s revenue by forging relationships with local school districts, restaurants and low-income community grocery stores.  This not only provided additional revenue streams for farmers, it provided farm-to-fork options for children to learn that their food could come from their own communities.  The local fruit was offered to students in five regional school districts: Sacramento City Unified, Yuba City Unified, Buckeye Unified and Rescue Unified in El Dorado County and Roseville City Unified.
 I for one am so happy to have these hard-working strawberry farmers as part of our communities.  Knowing more about their challenging history and work ethic makes me even more proud to see these stands in our neighborhood.  Want to know where you can buy strawberries near you?  A Google Map was created to find strawberry stands throughout the Sacramento region and surrounding areas.  I found the stand in our neighborhood.  Can you find yours?

Get to know your local strawberry stand owners.  Purchase ripe strawberries the way they are intended to be enjoyed.  Talk to the families that run these stands and find out more about them.  If each of us can show our children what a valuable service these families provide, we are ensuring the successful future of urban farming in our communities.  Without our support, urban farmers can’t survive.

We chatted with the stand owner on Grant Line Rd. in Elk Grove today and learned about his business and more about the variety of Chandler strawberries that he uses.  Local farmers can teach us all something that we didn’t know about the food we eat.

Tell us the story of your neighborhood strawberry stand.  We would love to hear it!



The stands featured in this post are the stands on Grant Line Rd. in Elk Grove and the stand on Green Valley in El Dorado Hills.  The stands are opening around our area now and should all be fully open within the next month.  The Google map has phone numbers for most stands if you want to make sure your local stand is open.

Strawberry Picking Season. In March. (Yolo County, CA and El Dorado County, CA)

Strawberry season usually starts in April around the Sacramento region.  Not this year!  Strawberry farms are open and farmer’s markets are already bursting with my favorite berries!  It took us by surprise as we drove by our local strawberry farm this weekend and saw families out amongst the rows of spring plants excitedly picking.

Growing up in Marin County we had a small strawberry patch in our backyard.  I would spend hours staring at our little garden waiting for green strawberries to turn to red and usually I would pick them mid-ripening because the anticipation was too much for me to handle.  There is nothing like homegrown strawberries.  Nothing.  You know how grocery store strawberries are thick skinned and semi sweet?  Homegrown strawberries, because they don’t have to be packaged and shipped around are picked at the peak of ripeness (unless you are five and can’t wait a moment longer) and are different varieties with thinner skin and juicier fruit.  A strawberry picked right out of the garden is oozing with sugary sweetness and is so tender it practically melts in your mouth.  The only way to get a berry like this, without growing your own, is to visit a local strawberry farm.  Just do it.  Trust me.

There are two strawberry farms that my family likes to visit each year.  One is in Yolo County near Davis and one is in El Dorado County in El Dorado Hills close to our home.  In between these two farms are approximately 95 strawberry stands scattered around the Sacramento metropolitan area.

My absolute favorite strawberry farm is Pacific Star Gardens near Davis in Woodland.  I first heard about Pacific Star Gardens when I worked at UC Davis and some of my students talked about it.  Only in Davis would college students spend their weekend strawberry picking and then come back to school on Monday and tell their boss about their adventures.  I love Davis.  Pacific Star Gardens is located on a sleepy county road in between Davis and Woodland.  It is sometimes manned and sometimes unmanned so it’s cash only.  I think this is the first farm I ever visited that had a money box and used the honor system.  I had just moved to Davis and the concept of having a money box right out in the open was so mind blowing I could hardly contain my excitement and all faith was again restored that humanity wasn’t deteriorating as quickly as I feared.  Driving to the farm takes quick reflexes and patience.  The farm comes up quickly and just as quickly disappears so keep a watch out for signs and drive carefully.  Pulling off the road there is a small dirt parking area and a covered farm stand that also features eggs, berries and vegetables as they become available.  Strawberries are $3/lb. or $15 a bucket (provided by the farm) and are certified organic.  Restrooms are not available.  The farm is tot friendly and hoards of families can be found on peak days and times so try to visit during the cooler morning hours to get prime first pick.

The closest strawberry farm to my home is El Dorado Natural Farms.  A recent neighbor that just started offering you pick strawberries along with other offerings last year.  I loved seeing this farm start operations because they are less than five minutes from my house and have easy on and off access from Highway 50.  They are a sustainable farm and use natural farming practices in all they do.  They have events throughout the year and are becoming one of the most family-friendly places in El Dorado Hills for friends to gather during the growing season.  Because this farm is located right off the Bass Lake Rd. exit on Highway 50 it’s the perfect stop off going to or from South Lake Tahoe or Apple Hill.  Strawberries are $3/basket for you pick and there is also a farm stand if you don’t have time to pick yourself.  The farm is only open weekends for now and as production ramps up, open daily.  The owners and employees are friendly and informative and the facility makes it easy to pick strawberries at the only fruit, vegetable and chicken farm on the Western Slope of El Dorado County.

El Dorado Natural Farm
Picking open 10:00 am-4:00 pm, weekends
1941 Old Bass Lake Rd.
El Dorado Hills, CA
www.edhfarms.com

Pacific Star Gardens
Open 8:30 am to 7:00 pm, daily
20872 County Road 99
Woodland, CA
Pacific Star Gardens Facebook Page

Do you have a favorite you pick strawberry farm?  Tell us about it!  We would love to feature it in a later post.