In so many parts of the USA, winter season is a huge challenge to growing fresh fruits and vegetables, but this is when FLORIDA shines its brightest! Florida strawberries are in their peak season NOVEMBER through MARCH; which means that when the Northeast is typically cold and snowy, Florida strawberries are growing big and beautiful in their most desirable and prime climate!
Florida has a specific area that has been known world-wide for its delicious, flavorful and sweet strawberries. Guess where this is? Plant City! Isn’t that the best name for the area growing the most tasty and delicious strawberry plants across the country? Every winter Florida Strawberry Growers Associations starts buzzing and beaming because of its unique and world-class strawberry plants, bursting with berries during these key winter months.
I visited Plant City and got to meet so many of the passionate Florida farmers while they were in the middle of harvesting these delicious berries. I was able to walk the rows of berries – literally picking them off and eating them right there! They were heavenly! I saw the twinkle in the eyes of the farmers, talking about why these berries were so packed with flavor and so unique. I couldn't have agreed more. I love talking with farmers like those of the FSGA. These are people who have dedicated their lives (often for many generations) to growing simply the best strawberries you can find, and I felt their personal connection to the fields and the strawberries themselves.
After all, the crops aren't something that just happen, crops are cultivated and planned all year long. I got to hear stories of the region and experience the 'strawberry homage' everywhere. But the most inspiring was connecting with and talking with the hard-working farming families; understanding the dedication and commitment to growing the best strawberries world-wide, which earned the farmers as a collective the Winter Strawberry Capital of the USA designation.
The fields are prepared months in advance through cutting-edge technology using the latest equipment that allows them to monitor the soil, know which fields will produce the best berries, and which berries will grow the best in specific areas. This all happens with the help of the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, under supervision of Dr. Vance Whitaker – he explained how years and years of research goes into this process of selecting the best varieties that will produce the best flavor, and be the most resilient for the upcoming season. (See video on the right-hand side of the page here that describes this process!)
Different strawberry varieties are grown each year, so you might have a slight different flavor profile from one berry to the next – perhaps a bit more floral note, or a more sweet note, or the seeds might be visible on the skin – or not. This is what makes strawberry varieties unique and so special, however, any variety of strawberry grown by Florida Strawberry Growers Association is going to be delicious and good for you. Hands-down, any Florida-grown strawberry is going to be delicious. They just can’t help it - they’re grown that way! The combination of the fertile soil, warm days, and cooler evenings found in the sunshine state, along with the mix of warm and cool weather breeds the perfect strawberry for snacking, for desserts, sauces, smoothies, and so much more.
Berries are carefully picked by hand, with TLC, and selected at their peak and most stellar moments when the berry's ripeness and most desirable flavor is at its highest level. Then, they're quickly and safely shipped directly to the grocery stores to be admired and enjoyed by us all. It is an efficient process, and the goal is to get them directly from the fields to the produce aisle with as little interruption as possible. In this instance, "from the field to your table" is very accurate and a true statement! The process is safe and fast, and there truly is something different, special, and especially satisfying when you bite into a Florida strawberry.
Check out the videos that take you behind-the-scenes as to what Florida strawberry growing is all about. With state-of-the-art technology, expertise and research, and a lot of passion from family farmers, Florida strawberries are a stand-out and worth the wait! But you don’t need to wait any longer!
Florida strawberries are coming to stores near you, NOW, thanks to the hard-working family farmers who have been waiting all year for these very moments. So, make sure you look for them and enjoy them as often as you can – and while you can! I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say, "A Florida strawberry is true berry bliss!"