Strawberry Fields Forever
As a Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems student at UC Davis, I love having the opportunity to visit farms and ranches that are putting what I am learning in my classes into real practice. Pacific Star Gardens exceeded my expectations. Located near Woodland, CA Pacific Star Gardens is a diversified farm that offers a variety of fruits and vegetables for u-pick and also offers egg subscriptions for on-farm pick up by subscribers.
We were greeted by Robert Ramming at Pacific Star Gardens. He was more than happy to give a tour of the cultivated land. We toured the greenhouses where transplants are grown not only for Pacific Star Gardens but also for other farms and seed companies. Ramming also showed us a piece of land where he was growing Triticale and Rye as chicken scratch and feed. He explained how this is a financially better method than continuing to solely buy feed. Although he still purchases grain from feed stores to compensate for what he has not grown, his goal is to eventually switch to a full self sustaining method. We then passed by the tomatoes and apricots on our way to the berries which Ramming explained were the best crop to grow for a beginning u-pick farm.
Throughout our walk Ramming also shared some of his experiences being a small scale farmer. Pacific Star Gardens used to sell at local farmer's markets. Unfortunately, due to family changes, they had to stop farmers' market sales and subsequently withdrew from their organic certification because the cost was unaffordable without the farmers' market as a source of income. Despite not having organic certification, Pacific Star Gardens still maintains all organic practices to ensure the quality of product and trust of consumers. Pacific Star Gardens direct marketing sales currently include u-pick, some farm stand sales and egg subscriptions. Ramming mentioned that roughly 80 percent of sales are from people living close by and the other 20 percent of sales are from visitors coming in after seeing their Facebook page or through word of mouth.
This visit would have not been complete without a bag of strawberries to take home. Before leaving us, Ramming showed us to the farm stand where we grabbed a clean picking bucket and headed out to the strawberry field. I picked two pounds of yummy strawberries which cost $3.50 a pound. They accept either cash or PayPal/Venmo.
Blackberry u-pick will be coming up soon, so keep your eye out on Pacific Star Garden's Facebook page for more information to visit. https://www.facebook.com/pacificstargardens/