A family tradition: picking strawberries in the summer.

A family tradition

by Peggy Cheng

Nothing beats passing by a strawberry field on a morning run – the sweet, cool air is like candy for the senses. So when I saw that Tanaka Farms offered strawberry picking, I signed us up right away. Our return to a familiar excursion turned into a new adventure in trying out the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes, and I enjoyed every bit of it.

Supporting local farmers

The boys and I recently attempted planting our vegetable cuttings, so we can definitely appreciate the effort it takes to produce our food. To my surprise, food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to our plates. That’s a lot of fossil fuel and emissions for a family who has been trying to reduce its carbon footprint. I enrolled in Tanaka Farms’ subscription CSA box service and looked forward to our first pickup.

We love picking berries at Tanaka Farms because the scenery is as beautiful as the strawberries.

Weekly vegetable surprise

Upon receiving our reusable cardboard box of goodies, we pulled out fresh fruits and vegetables like a rabbit out of a hat. I admit that wielding carrots in their leafy entirety is oddly more gratifying than holding a sealed plastic bag of orange sticks. I am also convinced that the boys’ veggie curiosity will expand their palate for new flavors. Thanks to Google, we easily find recipes, prepare new dishes from our special ingredients, and judge our creations as if we were in our very own cooking competition show.

Picking the right strawberries

Back at the farm, strawberry picking never gets old for the kids. Whereas their younger selves would race to tug at any hint of red on the plants, the boys now take their time to find the perfect fruit: not too ripe, not too seedy, but also not too plump. At home, we taste and take mental notes for the next time we hunt for the perfect strawberries.

That’s me and Peyton, 9. He’s learned to take his time to find the perfect berries – and pick from the stem.

Growing up with the Tanakas

Amidst all the attractions Irvine has to offer, Tanaka Farms is a place that hardly loses its novelty for us. We’ve explored pumpkins in the fall, watermelons in the summer, and other parts of the farm for school field trips. But owner Glenn Tanaka’s dedication to the community doesn’t stop there. In addition to supporting schools, he also actively supports the youth-focused service organization Orange Coast Optimist, where the boys play basketball and volunteer at cultural events. Though we hadn’t met him personally until last year, his family name has been a part of our story for almost 10 years.

Enjoying the simple things in life

As we’ve been spending more time at home together, we’ve begun embracing a simpler life and finding more creative ways to amuse ourselves. Experimenting with CSA boxes, learning to cook together, and exploring Tanaka Farms’ open spaces in Irvine has given our family a fresh perspective on what brings us joy and happiness.