Name: Jennifer Gean
Farm: Harry’s Berries
Location: 5777 East Vineyard Avenue, Oxnard, CA 93036
What They Grow and Make: Specialty chemical-free strawberries, homemade blackberry and strawberry preserves, tender heirloom beans, tomatoes (cherry, grape, plum, and big beef), zesty medium or hot salsas, spicy pickled green and yellow dill beans, and non-pasteurized strawberry drinks.
Where to Buy: Farmer’s markets including Tuesday in downtown Santa Barbara, Friday in Montecito, and Saturday in downtown Santa Barbara. In addition, Harry’s Berries can be found at more than 20 markets in Southern California.
In Season Now: Three varieties of strawberries (Gaviota, Chandler, seascape), yellow Italian beans, French filet beans, yellow cherry tomatoes, big beef tomatoes, patty pan squash, raspberries, blackberries, and edible flower salad mix (including sweet baby lettuces with borage and calendula flowers).
Their Story: For 45 years, Harry’s Berries has been successfully farming in Oxnard, on the edge of the Santa Clara River. The 40-acre family-run business is a living and working vehicle, with all family members living on-site.
“We are old school, we live and work together on this amazing land — it’s like a little commune,” said Jennifer Gean. “And our customers, they are like family members.”
The third-generation farm grows a variety of specialty fruits and vegetables, using only organic farming practices and selling directly to the public since 1986. Known for their specialty berries, the Gean family has created a unique breed of strawberries, picked full-color at the peak of ripeness.
“Our strawberries are not grown to be shipped,” said Gean. “We like to concentrate more on flavor than yield, creating a product that is extremely sweet and juicy. We like to create ordinary food, with extraordinary taste.”
With a certified processing kitchen, no food is left to waste, turning leftover produce into popular preserves and pickled items. In addition to food, the farm has created beautiful recycled sculptures, using reclaimed farming material to build life-like critters, from caterpillars and ladybugs to dragonflies and honeybees. Once a year, the farm even offers an open house dinner and tour, where locals can get a chance to truly “Meet the Farmer.”
Harry’s Berries Strawberry Crisp
4 pints strawberries, sliced
6 tablespoons dry tapioca
2 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks butter, softened
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 13 x 9 baking pan with nonstick coating. Toss sliced strawberries with tapioca and pat evenly into pan. Combine remaining ingredients and crumble topping evenly over strawberries. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Makes 12 servings.