On the East Coast, February means snow plows.
In the Midwest, February means wind chill warnings.
But in Irvine, February means strawberry season.
Orange County is blessed with a long growing season for these berry beauties, but they are at their sweet best right now.
Sure, strawberries can be found in any grocery store, but in Irvine it's easy to buy them fresh from the fields.
Once upon a time, the Irvine Ranch was a vast, agricultural powerhouse. Acres of cirus groves and bean fields once covered the landscape where residential villages now grow. Today, narrow strips of row crops and patches of family farms are the only remaining traces of Irvine's agricultural heritage.
The Original Manassero Farms
on Jeffrey (between Irvine Center Drive and Barranca)
The Manassero Family has been farming in Orange County for three generations, and Dan Manassero has operated The Original Manassero Farms since 1976. The family prides itself on providing the freshest berries possible by picking them every morning and then hand-delivering them directly to the fruit stands.
Click here for The Manassero Family strawberry pie recipe.
Recently, Manassero Farms opened a boutique market and special events area near the Irvine Vally College campus. Every month, local chefs host culinary events featuring produce grown on the farm.
5380 University Drive
Glen Tanaka also operates a family farm, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who emigrated to the United States from Japan. At Tanaka Farms, they work to cultivate memories as well as excellent fruits and vegetables. Education is a key ingredient as thousands of school children visit its fields every year.
During strawberry season, They offer U-Pick Tours, where visitors ride out into the fields in tractor-pulled wagons and taste strawberries right from the vine.
A little further north on Jeffrey Road, at the corner of Bryan Avenue, is the home of Smith's Farms, a certified organic produce stand. In modern-day Irvine, where colossal chain stores dominate the grocery market, Smith's Farms' small, open-air produce stand is a sweet reminder of a simpler time.
Smith's Farms is known for supplying the basics; locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. In February, Smith's produce stand is filled with the fragrance of ripe strawberries, just picked and ready for your table.