By: Karen Thang
Thanks to the Chapman University FSNSA Club, students had the opportunity to take a strawberry tour at Tanaka Farms. The farm is located in Irvine, CA and it offers various tours, including strawberry, cookout, watermelon, and pumpkin patch tours. The first strawberry tour started back in 1998 because the people of Tanaka Farms wanted to educate children about where fruits and vegetables come from and how they are grown.
The farm tour was led on a tractor-pulled wagon ride.
Students had the chance to see how various fruits and vegetables were raised on the farm. Additionally, everyone got to sample freshly-picked produce, such as carrots, sugar snap peas, green onions, cilantro, and spinach.
The last stop of the tour was the strawberry fields, where students got to pick and eat strawberries. Best of all, everyone got to pick a one pound basket of strawberries to take home and enjoy. And of course, pictures of the FSNSA Club members were taken to capture the fun memories of the tour!
After the strawberry tour, I wanted to learn a little bit more about the fruit and I was pleased to have stumbled upon some interesting facts. Referred to as the sweetheart of fruits, the fragrantly sweet strawberry is one of the most popular fruits around the world. Although they are delicious as whole, fresh fruits, strawberries are also frequently used in a wide array of tasty recipes. Some delicious strawberry desserts include strawberry fool, strawberry buckle, and strawberry flummery.
These fruits were also historically significant. In fact, the ancient Romans used strawberries for medicinal purposes to alleviate inflammation, fevers, and gastrointestinal discomforts. Throughout the medieval times, strawberries represented righteousness and perfection. The stonemasons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals. During the same time period, the fruit also symbolized peace and prosperity. As a result, they were always served at important state functions.
So how did strawberry get its name? There are actually several theories that surround the origin of the fruit’s name. One theory is that English children from the 19th Century strung strawberries together on grass straws and sold them as “straws of berries”. An alternative theory is that the name may have derived from the practice of placing straw around the strawberry plants to protect the ripening fruit.
Fun Facts about Strawberries:
- Have any of you tried counting the seeds on the strawberries? There are approximately 150-200 seeds on a strawberry. Of course, the seed numbers will vary by the size of the fruit.
- The external, fleshy part of the strawberry actually derives from the receptacle that holds the ovaries. The “seeds” that you see on the outside are the ovaries, with a seed inside them.
- The strawberry is a member of the Rosaceae (Rose) family.
- The fruit belongs to the genus Frugaria, which means “fragrance” in Latin.
- If you haven’t noticed, strawberries bear a resemblance to a heart. The Narragansett North American Natives called the fruit “wuttahimneash”, which means “heart berry.”
- Did you know that over 80% of the strawberries produced in the United States are grown in California? In order to grow well, strawberries require warm, sunny weather and cool nights.
- Strawberries are hand-picked because they are very fragile and tend to bruise easily.
- If you lined up all the strawberries grown each year, they would circle the Earth about 17 times!
- Since the times of ancient Rome, strawberries were touted as an aphrodisiac fruit. In mythology, the strawberry was a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love because of its beautiful heart shape and succulent red color.
- Traditionally, newlyweds in France were served strawberry soup to celebrate their love
- During Napoleon’s reign, a French social figure named Madame Tallien bathed in the juices of fresh strawberries because she believed the fruit will preserve her beauty.
- According to folklore, if you split and share a double strawberry with the opposite sex, you will both fall in love.
- Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring.
- Botanists do not consider strawberries a “berry” simply because “true berries” such as blueberries have seeds inside.
- Queen Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII. People claimed she was a witch because of the strawberry-shaped birthmark on her neck.
Have you been on any farm tours? Tell us in the comments!