UCCE Shasta helps consumers grow their own strawberries
The IssueA low cost route to improved nutrition is to grow your own food. Shasta County is headquarters to the largest strawberry nursery plant production system in California and the world. But few of the billion strawberry nursery plants produced in the county annually make it to backyards for production of fruit for personal consumption. Most nursery plants are shipped from Shasta County to coastal areas of California where fruit is grown, then shipped back to Shasta County's approximately 50 grocery stores to provide most of the strawberries for the county's 183,000 residents. Although, there is some roadside production of fresh strawberries in the spring in Shasta County, there is almost no backyard production. In fact, it is difficult to find small lots of nursery plants to grow the new flavorful and popular UC strawberry variety Albion in Shasta County.
What Has ANR Done?Happy Valley, a community in south Shasta County, holds a “Strawberry Festival” school fundraiser each May. Thousands of local residents attend to enjoy strawberry shortcake and purchase crafts from local vendors. In 2009, UCCE attended the festival and gave away 6,000 Albion plants (donated by local nursery producers) in lots of ten to 600 members of the community. Accompanying instructions covered plant care, food safety, preservation and consumption. UCCE followed up with a mailed questionnaire and site visits to evaluate the success of the project.
Shasta County residents produce healthy food in their backyardsThis activity is part of a movement in Shasta County to return to grass roots production and consumption of food. Those who cared for the plants properly consumed and enjoyed strawberries from their own yards. Eighty-nine percent of the people planted the strawberries. Eight percent reported that they planted the strawberries but lost the plants because of pests or pets. Three percent reported they didn't have time to plant them. In 2010, those who had cared for their plants enjoyed a second year of production. The participants discovered that growing your own food is not simple, but is a good way to eat right in difficult economic times. All the participants had the resources to produce food: a small amount of land, water, some simple tools to plant, weed, harvest, and prepare fruit for consumption. What was most often lacking was time to tend the garden – preparing soil, weeding and watering.
Supporting Unit: Shasta County
Concepcion Mendoza and Daniel B. MarcumConcepcion Mendoza, (530) 224-4900, email@example.com
Daniel Marcum, (530) 336-5784, firstname.lastname@example.org