Mid-Summer in the Bay is the peak of local berry season. The last of the local blueberries will be harvested through July and the blackberries and raspberries are starting to taste really good. Strawberries have the longest season of any of the local berries, with the harvest lasting from April to October depending on the weather. Summer strawberries can be the sweetest with the cool coastal nights and warm days, but farmers are always wary of a heat wave that melts the berries in the fields! Berries always taste the best when they are harvested ripe and eaten as soon as possible, and we are so fortunate to get all to get all of our summer berries straight from the farms within 24 hours after harvest. With all of these sweet treats coming on at once, it can be hard to decide which berry to choose! So we’ve decided to make the decision simple with our mixed berry 3-pack, so you can enjoy the best of them all!
The organic red raspberry market has been monopolized by Driscoll’s over the past 15 years, making it very difficult for small farmers to compete with the low costs. With the resurgence of folks who want to know where their food comes from and consumers’ desire for high-quality fruit, we are starting to see more small growers planting raspberries in the Northern California. Yerena Farms, located in Watsonville, is a family-operated farm growing berries on around 13 acres. Poli Yerena and his brother came to the states to work in the Driscoll’s fields in the early 80’s, and after 12 yrs decided to start their own farm. We are so lucky to work with a small farm like Yerena, who know how to grow a perfect organic raspberry and are committed to bringing the local raspberry market back to the small farmer. Yerena’s neighbor in Watsonville, Live Earth Farm also grows raspberries are known for their organic gold raspberries. Gold raspberries are an extremely delicate berry with super sweet flavor and a hint of tartness.
Blackberries grow like weeds throughout the Bay Area! However, the flavor and texture of the wild blackberries doesn’t quite compete with some of the varieties the local farms are growing. Toby at Free Spirit Farm in Winters grows the “Triple Crown” blackberry, a thornless berry plant with super juicy fruit that is sweet when ripe. We love these berries so much that we are making our Public Label Blackberry Jam with them this month! There are some pedigrees of berries that are very similar to blackberry like the Boysenberry and Olallieberry. We get these varieties from time to time at the market, but they are so delicate and juicy it’s hard for the farms to get them to us before the turn to mush.
Throughout the summer we get strawberries directly from over 10 different farms. Live Earth Farm and Swanton Berry Farm are a couple farms who have mastered the art of strawberry growing. Learn more about strawberries at Bi-Rite here. Whatever your pleasure, your locally-grown berry best friends are back for summer!