Last October my friend Rita wanted us to go out to Tanaka Farms for their fall Pumpkin Patch tour. With everything going on at the time (and the distance to Tanaka Farms), we ended up at the Pumpkin races instead. And I’d completely forgotten about Tanaka farms until I saw it as the field trip destination for Jamie’s class the other week.
Spring has rolled in and so did strawberry picking season. Jamie our resident strawberry girl was excited for this trip to what seems to be the most popular farm all around Southern California. I don’t know for sure, but that’s what I heard.
It turned out Sam was on spring break that day, and since Dad had to work, I had to take her along with me too. I was worried about what I was going to do with her while Jamie and her class were on tour.
As we discovered, Tanaka Farms actually gives you a tour of their 30-acre property and talks about the other crops and vegetables that they grow on the farm over the various seasons. The Tanaka family has been managing the farm for almost 30 years, and they’ve taken steps to ensure the products are organic and pesticide-free, and that their farming processes are efficient and environmentally sound. And they monitor everything very closely. Mr. Tanaka himself was on the farm today (as he is everyday is what they say), personally overseeing everything.
One of the things we learned on our tractor ride was that they don’t use the usual sprinkler system for watering the crops. Rather, they have built-in hoses into the soil for less water wastage.
They also let us stop at different parts of the farm to try vegetables that were literally — freshly picked and washed. I think that was my favorite part of the tour — because Sam and Jamie got to sample onions, carrots, peas, cilantro, celery and bok choi in their freshest forms.
Jamie was quite skeptical and stopped at feeling and smelling most of the crop, save for the carrot. She couldn’t wait to throw our samples overboard (as our tour guide said it was safe to do since they would just pick it up and put it back in their compost pile later).
As for Sam… what a trooper! It’s so hard to get her to eat her veggies, and yet she took in the whole experience and gamely took bites out of everything that was handed to her. I was so pleased and proud, it put a huge smile on my face. In the end she said she didn’t like any of them, but we agreed that trying them all was a wonderful first step!
Then came the strawberry-picking. At Tanaka farms, they allow you to eat the strawberries while picking them! I found that to be quite generous. I knew Jamie enjoyed it because she got to choose the strawberries she was going to take home. She squished a few too in her attempt to get them into her basket. And of course, she munched on a few while she (we) worked.
Sam got her own box, which worried me at first because I didn’t want a whole bunch of strawberries to go to waste (we couldn’t eat that many that fast). That’s because Sam doesn’t eat strawberries… or so I thought.
That’s what I saw when I turned to check on Sam. Apparently all that open-mindedness and vegetable samples prompted her to try the strawberries too. And low and behold, she liked them! (Admittedly though, those Tanaka Farm strawberries WERE REALLY GOOD. I had a few myself!).
Now she says we need to make sure there are enough strawberries in the house for both her and Jamie to eat. Hurray! Ohhh, glorious music to my ears.
If only for that, Tanaka Farms is now one of my favorite places in California. (The only thing though, is they don’t have a bathroom. It’s those free-standing portalets! Be warned!)
I can’t say who enjoyed it more, Jamie or Sam, but Tanaka Farms was definitely a hit. We have plans to go back for more (The Strawberry Tours run until June), and find time during the summer months to pick some Watermelons too!