Strawberry Fields Forever: First Strawberry Field in La Verne in Years

April 11, 2010
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Erica Vargas with Bonita students, from left, Sierra and Harhutt.

Erica Vargas with Bonita students, from left, Sierra and Lauren Harhutt.

Right across the street from Bonita High School are lessons of love and care and devotion that don’t take place inside any classroom.

Open seven days a week is La Verne’s first strawberry stand in some 50 years, thanks to the Vargas family, who with permission from the United Methodist Church of La Verne and the City of La Verne plowed up and removed hundreds of feet of cracked asphalt, concrete and other debris to plant the most beautiful field of Camarosa strawberries.

“It cost about $60,000 to do all that work,” said Erica Vargas, who regularly works in the stand as part of the family business.

The Vargas family is no stranger to La Verne. Just a few years ago, Erica Vargas Jimenez, now 27, was a student at Bonita High School. Her father Adrian also has operated strawberry farms along Baseline in Claremont for 27 years.

“My dad moved all the dirt and soil around with his tractor,” Erica added. “He got up at 5 a.m. and many days would work until 10 at night to get the field ready.” Adrian installed the irrigation, put in the plastic and planted the berries.

The strawberry field opened on March 25. It appears to be a bumper crop. The sweet, deep-red berries go for $3.50 a basket or $9 for three baskets.

Erica with little helper Giselle Adiana Jimenez

Erica with little helper Giselle Adiana Jimenez

Not everyone it seems likes to pay, however.

There have been several reports of strawberry snatchers.

“Many people have taken our berries,” Erica said. “We have very good neighbors, who try to keep them out, but we have losses, absolutely.

“My dad’s a very nice guy,” Erica added. “If kids are broke or, you know, if they want some berries, they can stop by and ask. But there’s never any need for them to steal. It’s upsetting. Hopefully, they won’t get caught, because they will be prosecuted.”

Not all of the luscious red strawberries were in plants or baskets. Some lay discarded in little gullies between the rows of fruit.

“The strawberry pickers throw the ones damaged by the rain on the floor,” Erica explained. “Only the good ones make it into the box.”

According to Erica, the strawberries are picked fresh every day, and the harvest will continue through June, in other words about the time school lets out for the summer.

Before then, students would do well to take a short walk across D Street to learn about more about the delicious red fruit where before only bleached and cracked asphalt grew.

The Vargas strawberry field also sells award-winning strawberry jams and jellies and chocolate-dipped strawberries.


One Response to “Strawberry Fields Forever: First Strawberry Field in La Verne in Years”


  1. Vargas Family Strawberry Fields | ClaremontGirl

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