Celebrating the Sweet Strawberries of Summer in Marin
Jeffrey Westman, Marin Organic
Indian valley Organic Farm and Garden Manager Amy Ridout.
The common garden strawberry was originally native to woodland areas but today’s hybrid species is widely cultivated for its larger fruit and ability to ship while ripe. Marin County has a nice long growing season for strawberries, which lasts from May until November. If you’re looking for a good strawberry visit the stand out at Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden. Or, if you’re on a road trip heading down the coast south of San Francisco, then be sure to visit Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport.
Known for their June fruiting Chandler strawberries as well as their Albion and Seascape varieties, the Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden is a 5.8-acre teaching farm located at the College of Marin’s Novato campus at 1800 Ignacio Boulevard. Their stand is open from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. year-round on Wednesday and on Saturdays from March through October. Sales of produce and plants from this farm directly benefit the programs offered through College of Marin, Master Gardeners, Conservation Corps of the North Bay and UC Cooperative Extension. These partners offer certificate programs, community education, occupational training and apprentice programs for home gardeners and professionals.
“Strawberries require a lot of nutrients to sustain production for such a long season so we cover crop the ground in the summer with buckwheat prior to putting the strawberry plants in the ground in the fall,” comments Amy Ridout, farm manager at Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden, a Marin Organic member farm.
Want to grow strawberries at home like a pro organic farmer? After the cover crop, which improves soil fertility, quality, and water retention, Ridout says they further care for soil by adding compost, gypsum and kelp meal before planting. Once plants are in the ground, they add a balanced organic fertilizer to slow release nutrients as they begin to grow. They feed fish emulsion and kelp meal directly on the leaves when they sprout out, and use an irrigation injector to add the fish and kelp into the irrigation water so the plants get fed once a week when fruiting.
Ridout’s favorite recipe for these treats is a spinach salad with strawberry basil vinaigrette. The salad is simply a fresh bunch of spinach, a cup of berries and sliced and toasted almonds.
- 1 cup fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup packed fresh basil
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tsp pure maple syrup, to taste
- Fine grain sea salt & black pepper, to taste (approx.. 1/4 tsp each)
Be sure to buy strawberries locally and organic. Strawberries are perennial plants that are farmed as annuals for highest yield. They are best enjoyed when ripe so buying local ensures you get them soon after they are harvested. Buy organic because they are always on the Environmental Working Group Dirty Dozen Report about pesticide residue and human health.
Do you have a favorite strawberry recipe? We’d love to hear it.