Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Have you ever visited a farm to pick your own fruits and vegetables? Last weekend, I took the kids to visit Tanaka Farms for a strawberry tour. It was the most wonderful activity to spend time with my kids, by far! Tanaka Farms is an authentic working farm with 30-acre of farmland producing organic fruits & vegetables that not only supply to their own produce stand, but also provides for the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program and various educational tours. Tanaka Farms is conveniently located in Irvine, California.
As soon as we entered the premises, we were greeted by the coffee and sugarcane plants.
I booked a late morning strawberry tour. Their Strawberry Tours runs from March through June, (please click here for more information about the tour). I highly recommend that you bring hats for yourself and your kids and apply sunblock for this event. But in case you forget, you can still purchase whatever you need as you line up to purchase your tour tickets.
Here are the tickets/stickers for the strawberry tour.
For each person who pays for the tour, s/he will also receive a 1-lb container, to bring home the strawberries that you picked from the farm.
Weekend tours run every half hour from 9:30am to 2:30pm. The picture below shows you the waiting area. My kids were so excited and they were running around the hay while we were waiting.
If you visit my blog often, you know that I don’t normally show pictures of my kids here. But look at those lovely smiles. They are too beautiful not to share.
Right next to the waiting area was Tanaka Farms’ market stand where you can pick your own fruits and vegetables if you’re not going on the tour.
These Swiss Chard/Rainbow Chards are beautiful.
Besides picking your own vegetables, you can also purchase them from the market stand.
The market stand carries fruits and vegetables that are freshly harvested from the farm.
Maui Onions were super sweet and awesome. We got to sample some sautéed ones while we were waiting for our tour.
Besides fresh produces, the market stand also carries jams, honey and some unique kitchen tools that you can purchase.
Here goes the wagon for our tour!
Yay…we’re ready to take off.
Here’s our tour guide, Thomas. The Chinese characters on the back of his shirt says “Hope” (希望). There’s a "Walk The Farm" event in June at the Tanaka Farms. The purpose of this event is to raise funds to aid farmers in Japan. For more information about the event, please click here.
During the tour, Thomas explained how the farm works, showed us the different kinds of fruits and vegetables, and reveal many fun facts about fruits and vegetables. My Little Boy was the one who asked the most questions during the tour. Thomas was very knowledgeable and very patience. He answered every single question and more.
Look at this view. It’s simply refreshing and peaceful to be out in an open field.
When we passed by the celery field, we can totally smell the freshness and crispness of the celery scent in the air. You've got to be there to take in all in.
Here comes another tour wagon and some field workers.
The view and the environment were just beautiful.
Here come our first stop of the tour. Our driver stopped right next to an ice box and took out some Sugar Snap Peas for us to sample.
These sugar snap peas were sweet, crunchy, juicy, and refreshing! Probably the best sugar snap peas that I've ever eaten, no kidding!
Then we passed by the Swiss Chard field as we munched on the peas.
Up next, we've got to sample some Maui onions, as is.
My Little Boy said it’s a little too spicy for him. But I’m glad that he tried. I think they were quite sweet, for raw onions.
We then got some carrots right after the Maui onions. These carrots were super sweet and crunchy. They offset the spiciness from the onions. Seriously, these carrots tasted like desserts to me. My Baby Girl finished the whole carrot all on her own.
Then we passed by the banana, papaya, avocado, lime and grapefruit trees.
Here’s closer look at the bananas. How long do you think it’ll take for bananas to grow before they’re ready to be harvested? 4 months? No. 6 months you say? No. A full 2 years! After learning the fact, I have new respects for the bananas, and the farmers who grow them!
Next, we've got to sample some Bak Choy. Of course you can do a stir fry at home. But I’m surprised they tasted so good when raw.
During our tour, we pumped into the owner of the farm, Farmer Kenny. It means a lot when the owner himself tours and works on the farm himself.
Next is the corn field.
Take a guess on what kind of plant it was in the picture below. Yes, an agave plant, a huge one!
Then, we finally arrived at the strawberry field. See the onions growing in the middle and between the strawberries? They act as a natural pest rebellion for the strawberry plants. Smart, right? As mentioned before, Tanaka Farms is an organic farm and only uses natural pesticide for pest control, such as pepper, garlic, and onion oil.
Can’t wait to pick these beautiful strawberries!
But before we got out of the wagon to pick our strawberries, Thomas explained to us what to pick and what not to pick. Yes, that’s a strawberry flower (see picture below). Of course we don’t pick that.
Not the green strawberries either.
There, the ripe and beautiful strawberry.
Thomas showed us the “bunny ears” method, which is the correct way to pick the strawberries without hurting the plant.
Check these out! Big, juicy, and sweet strawberries. They are about the freshest strawberries you will ever eat.
My Little Girl was quite busy picking and eating the whole time.
My Little Boy was hard at work too. He only ate one or two strawberries while picking and insisted to eat them after he returned home so he can focus on filling his basket.
Aren't these strawberries beautiful? Did you know that there are an average of 200 seeds outside of each strawberry? Amazing, isn't it?
My Little Boy was so proud that he picked his own strawberries.
My Baby Girl was still too busy eating!
Check out this view (picture below). I can’t quite believe this is in the middle of Orange county in L.A. What a beautiful view. Don’t you love that red barn? I’m glad that I was able to take these pictures on the slightly bumpy wagon ride. (click on the picture to enlarge)
After our tour, we were back to the farm stand and had a little strawberry lemonade.
And we had a little kale salad sample as well. It was so fresh and yummy.
If you’re in the greater Los Angeles area or plan to visit the area soon, you've got to visit Tanaka Farms for a tour. Your kids and the kids in you will thank you. It’s a wonderful and educational experience to see how the farm works and you'll have a chance to sample the freshest produces you can get your hands on. I can’t wait to go back for their harvest tour (March through August) and watermelon tour that will be available in July and August.
Stay tuned for some strawberry recipes in the next few blog posts.
Before I post the new strawberry recipes, here are a few of my favorites that you can try for now.
Strawberry and Cream Swiss Roll (草莓奶油瑞士卷)
Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream
Strawberry and Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble
Eton Mess with Dark Chocolate Strawberry Meringue Roses
Strawberry Meyer Lemonade Spritzer
Wow, I do have quite a few favorites. What can I say, my kids and I adore strawberries!
Tanaka Farms information:
Address: 5380 3/4 University Dr., Irvine, CA 92612
Reservation Phone number: (949) 653-2100 Ext. 204
Disclosure: Both of my kids and I received the strawberry tour free of charge for the purpose of this review. My assistant, a.k.a. husband, paid for his own ticket. I was not compensated for this review post. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you Tanaka Farms for allowing me to review the strawberry tour. We all had so much fun and definitely will be back again to visit your beautiful farm.