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Things To Do | Tanaka Farms (Irvine, California)

If you're a socal native like I am, have you heard of Tanaka Farms? I surely didn't know this place existed until one of my close nursing school friends (and bridesmaid) Vanessa invited me out to go strawberry picking! As a U.C. Irvine alumni, she told me that the farm was near the university, that they're Hello Kitty themed, and and that they have different fruits/vegetables you can pick (depending on the time of year and season).

We met up early in the morning around opening time at the farm. We planned to do the U-Pick Strawberry tour. Parking was free for the tour, but we did have to purchase tickets in order to do the tour. Ticket purchase included one plastic container (see picture) that we could fill up with strawberries we picked. The tour guide later mentioned that the only requirement is that the plastic container is able to close. Also with the ticket purchase came a red sticker that gives you some percent off of produce or goods you wish to purchase from the farm stand shop.

Scattered throughout the entrance are statues or cardboard pictures of Hello Kitty and/or her friends. Vanessa and I got a picture with the Hello Kitty statue up front that welcomed people into Tanaka Farms.

After purchasing our tickets, we lined up and boarded a wagon (think farm-style wagon with an open top). The tour guide took us through different areas of the farm. We made several stops along the way as well, and the tour guide used this opportunity to explain the vegetables being grown at this time and even gave us clean, raw vegetable samples (fresh from the farm)! On our tour, we sampled raw carrots (with the top leaves still attached), bok choy bundles, scallion onions, and white corn. I was intrigued that bok choy and white corn could be eaten raw, and I was pleasantly surprised how good both tasted raw! One veteran U-pick tour guest even brought a bag, which he used to fill up extra vegetables that were given to our wagon (definitely a pro-tip for the next time I visit). He said he was going to make soup with the vegetables!

We finally made it to the strawberry patch for U-Pick. The farm designates a certain strawberry patch for U-Pick guests. The patch was a good size for the number of people on the tour. We all definitely were not in each others' way and were spread out quite well.

So, for the strawberry above, is it in the shape of  1) a tooth or  2) pair of pants?

Anyways, after the tour, we were allowed to wander the front part of the farm grounds (where the Hello Kitty and friends statues are. I saw some potted sunflowers and was able to get this shot (most definitely a pro of being short).

Vanessa and I didn't have to make reservations for our tour because we went on a random Monday. One tip I would give though is to make reservations ahead of time if you're going during the holidays! The farm may charge for parking if you go during an event, since space is limited.

Have you done a U-Pick tour (with Tanaka Farms or somewhere else)? If so, what was your experience like?

- Nicole G.


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