Bethany Clough

Strawberry season is here. Here’s why Fresno-grown ones are different and where to buy them

One major sign of spring: Strawberries are here.

Locally grown strawberries are hitting roadside stands and farmers markets – and they’re much different than the ones you’ll find on grocery store shelves.

Most strawberries grown in and around Fresno aren’t the type that get shipped long distances.

“Our strawberries are slightly different than you’ll find in the supermarket. They don’t have the extended shelf life of some of the other varieties,” said Kristi Johnson of the Fresno County Office of Tourism.

That means you’re getting a juicer and more ripe strawberry when you buy locally grown ones, she said.

And they taste better, said Felix Muzquiz, executive director of the Vineyard Farmers Market.

“It’s a totally different ballgame,” she said. “The flavor, oh my gosh, the flavor is a lot more intense.”

The Chandler and Camarosa varieties of strawberries are being picked right now. The Chandlers are easy to slice and ideal for strawberry shortcakes, Johnson said. The Camarosa strawberries are more juicy.

California grows 90 percent of strawberries in the United States.

There are 15 strawberry stands that should be open right now, according to the Fresno County Fruit Trail. Keep reading for locations.

In Fresno County, 95 percent of strawberries are grown by farmers from the Hmong and Mien hill tribes of Laos, according to the Fruit Trail. And you can often meet the person who grew them at the stand.

“Often times you’ll see not only the grower, but the entire family” working, Johnson said.

Farmers markets are selling strawberries too. Two vendors are selling at the Vineyard Farmers Market at Blackstone and Shaw avenues on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.

A third grower, Mendoza Farms, sells certified organic strawberries there only on Saturdays for now.

Other farmers markets are selling locally grown strawberries too, including the Kaiser Permanente Fresno Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays at 7300 N. Fresno St., near Fresno Street and Alluvial Avenue.

A good time to buy them? This weekend.

That’s because the berries need heat and sun to develop their sweetness and we’re expected to get some this week.

“Since we have a lot of sunshine going on, when they bring the strawberries out to the table, you’ll be able to smell them at a distance,” Muzquiz said. “It’s intense. You’re like, ‘Oh wow.’”

Here are the strawberry stands in Fresno County that are scheduled to be open, all in Fresno unless otherwise noted.

  • Saechao’s Fresh Strawberry Farm, near Chestnut and Florence avenues.
  • Simonian Farms, near Jensen and Clovis avenues.
  • Kao Saechao’s Strawberry Farm, the northeast corner of Manning and McCall avenues in Selma.
  • May Saelee’s Strawberry Farm, on Highway 43, a half mile west of Highway 99 near Selma.
  • Koy’s Fresh Strawberry Farm, at Mountain View and Academy avenues near Kingsburg.
  • Pao Saephan’s Fresh Strawberries, southwest corner of Manning and Reed avenues in Reedley.
  • Choinam’s Strawberry Farm, McCall and Belmont avenues.
  • Chingfou Strawberry Stand, southwest corner of McCall and Ashlan avenues.
  • Yang’s Strawberry Farm, on Fowler Avenue, a quarter mile south of Clinton Avenue.
  • Saetern’s Strawberry Farm, on Shaw avenue, a half mile west of DeWolf Avenue, Clovis.
  • Siong’s Strawberry Farm (Behymer Avenue, east of Willow Avenue.
  • Ming’s Strawberry Farm, Herndon Avenue, a quarter mile east of Willow Avenue.
  • Saetern’s Farm, Shaw and Grantland avenues.
  • Thao’s Farm, Dakota Avenue near Brawley Avenue.
  • Saechao’s Fresh Strawberry Farms, near Clinton and Marks avenues.
Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.