Winter Strawberries in the Salinas Valley

In the dead of winter, the strawberries are already planted here. They’re waiting for spring and proper sunlight. Once that gets going, they’ll start producing fruit, which will end up in stores across the country, as well as beyond our borders.

The Salinas Valley is an open-sky factory. That’s really what it is. No walls, no roof, just a huge factory floor crawling with machinery and men. Production, twenty-four hours a day. Lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, artichokes, wine grapes, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, onions, tomatoes, bok choy, radicchio, etc. The list is quite long.

Southern Pacific railroad, about a hundred years ago, first coined the term “Salad Bowl.” I think they did so because salad in bowls worked better on moving train than salad on plates. The railroad was instrumental to putting the Salinas Valley on the map in terms of moving product to market. Later, I’m not sure when, the larger phrase “Salad Bowl of the World” was adopted for the valley.

I live in the middle of the factory. Winter time means mud, lots of bare, brown fields, the plastic-covered rows of the strawberry fields, and dreary grey skies, most days. The upside is that things are a bit quieter than the other eight months of the year. No field crews firing up in the early morning. Fewer tractors rumbling back and forth. No harvest trucks rolling down the road, stacked with cartons and heading for the coolers.

Waiting for spring. But, in the meantime, tempus fugit.

So, get things done.

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