There is nothing more glorious than the opening of the local strawberry stands! It means Spring is officially showing up in the fields, our kitchens, and in our meals. We are fortunate to have not one, not two, but three fantastic strawberry stands within a 5 mile radius. These are each very low key, family run operations. Nothing fancy at all. Even calling the little buildings “stands” and not and “shacks” or more aptly named “lean to’s” is generous. But oh, those strawberries are simply divine. How far away are these strawberries shipped you ask. Where is this fruit really grown? Yeah, right out there behind the strawberry stand. The field you are looking at right now.
The Stand on the Corner
Surely this business must have a name, but it isn’t clearly listed on their signs, so the locals just refer to it as “The Stand on the Corner.” Everyone around here knows exactly what that means. The fields are at the corner of Highway 4 and Byron Highway. The family runs this stand along with another one on the east side of Stockton. Watching their son grow up (he’s probably around 13 now) has been fun, and he’s been able to run the sales like a skilled businessman since 3rd grade or so.
Chan’s strawberry field and stand are over on Walnut Avenue. As far as farm stands and U-Pick fruit, Walnut Avenue is like Main Street. Fresh food is simple everywhere! Chan’s does a great business with U-Pick strawberries and sights of families with young children in the fields are a sweet, common sighting. As with all U-Pick outings, wear shoes that can handle a bit of dirt and mud. Their farm stand sells their luscious berries along with onions harvested from the end of the strawberry rows and local asparagus.
Berry Best has been around for a few years, but is sure increasing their advertising with cute signs on all of the local roads. They grow and harvest their strawberries right behind the strawberry stand. Recently, I was talking with Rita, the matriarch of the business, about the lack of local strawberry vendors at the local farmers market. Turns out she has applied to sell there for 3 years now, and was turned down each time. Shameful! I showed her one of the few local items from the market, Oaxacan cheese made by a family right in town. She smiled and shared the memories of her grandmother making that very same type of cheese, pulling and pulling it into long strings, then rolling it into a ball. Sure enough, when I sliced the cheese at home, that is exactly what was seen, long strings like Mozzarella rolled into a ball. Lovely.
Three strawberry stands, each with the most fantastic sweet fruit you ever tasted, and all within five short miles from home. Life is good!