In our household we are counting down the days until my daughter’s last day of eighth grade, when she no longer has to balance a rigorous academic year with competitive volleyball. It has taken its toll and I can see the weariness in her eyes as she pushes on to finish strong all the way to the end. I wish I can take credit for her drive and competitive spirit, but she didn’t get it from me. She has me for a mom, someone who believes that we all have to live life to the fullest in all aspects. I will support her in her endeavors, and be there for her with open arms through the ups and downs. However, I’ll also make her put her homework aside to go strawberry picking and exploring because life is truly a gift and we need to enjoy it with the people that matter to us. I’m in denial about what comes next for her… (gulp) high school, but I have all summer to be blissfully ignorant and spend it with my not-quite-high schooler kid.
Strawberry picking is what we did a couple of weekends ago during Memorial Day weekend at Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville, CA because we needed one last outing with an official junior high school kiddo. I have been hearing about Gizdich Ranch’s strawberries for a long time, but just like many things, I hadn’t gotten around to checking “U-pick strawberry at Gizdich” off my list. You have to be on top of opening day because you want to go towards the beginning of the season to get the “gigantic” strawberries that we’ve been hearing about (strawberry season is May-July). We’ve heard some high praise for this place, so I wondered if my expectations were set too high.
We arrived at Gizdich Ranch on Sunday around 11 am and were given a map to drive to a separate place where the strawberry field was located. The Ranch sold baked goods and other treats, but this place was so crowded that we couldn’t find parking to even check it out. We didn’t want their strawberry pie anyway (not true!). We continued on to the strawberry field which was about 5 minutes away and checked in at the stand where they told us to pick up a “basket” (plastic planter) and report to the guy in the yellow vest who was going to assign us a row to pick. The guy in the yellow vest told us when we looked for strawberries, we needed to gently pull apart the leaves and really look down inside because that’s where all the big strawberries were. He told us to go anywhere, but he seemed to be pointing down a specific row. I’m pretty sure we were reading too much into his hand gestures, but we headed to that row anyway. We weren’t disappointed! About 1/3 way up the row, we started seeing some large, even “gigantic” strawberries. By the time we finished picking the entire row, we were convinced this was the best U-pick strawberry place we had ever been to. Large, brilliant red, juicy, sweet strawberries! For us the fun part was looking for them. You had to pull apart the leaves to see if a ripe strawberry lay hidden inside and if you found a large one, you couldn’t help but call attention to it because it was like finding a treasure. I mean, you have to get credit for it, right?
The strawberries were only $1.90/lb and there was no entrance fee. It was a great place to get outside and enjoy a fun activity. We are already talking about coming back at the start of next season because this place was that great! Santa Cruz is only about 30 minutes away, so when our legs couldn’t take anymore bending, we picked up some lunch at Deluxe Foods Market (Rio Del Mar Blvd exit) which is one of our favorite places to pick up picnic food, then had a full day exploring the Santa Cruz area before heading home.
If you can get to Watsonville, Gizdich Ranch will have strawberries through July, while their berry (olallieberry, boysenberry, raspberry, blackberry) season is just starting up in June/July. Check out their website or call for specific dates. Happy Berry Picking!
Open 9 am- 5 pm (7 days a week)