Strawberry Picking in Carlsbad

By Elisa Foster

If you are looking for a fun and popular springtime activity in Carlsbad, give strawberry picking a try!  Located in coastal Carlsbad, the third generation Carlsbad Strawberry Company is a family-run “U-pick” farm.  It is one of the oldest in San Diego County––they have been growing strawberries here for over half a century.

When should I go?

The strawberry harvest comes and goes quite fast – usually takes place between January and July. The west coast Carlsbad climate is ideal for growing strawberries, that’s why California is the number one distributer of strawberries across the nation.

Known as a Carlsbad tradition for 20 years, the fields closest to Cannon are marked “U-Pick,” where guests may pick their own strawberries for $10 a bucket. This can easily become an annual tradition, as one of the rites of spring, along with a visit to the nearby Flower Fields.

And if strawberry picking isn’t really your thing, there is also a sunflower maze, apple cannons where you can shoot apples at targets, a “Bounceland” with multiple jump houses and slides and an assortment of food and drink options.

Shoot apples out of a cannon and be sure to hit the covid sign.

History of the Carlsbad Strawberry Company

The popular strawberry fields of Carlsbad, farmed by the Ukegawa family since the 1950s on land leased from San Diego Gas & Electric Company – and preserved by the voters of Carlsbad in November 2006 when they passed Proposition D, which zoned 208 acres of farmland on the southern shores of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon as open space and promotes agricultural uses “as long as feasible.”

The Carlsbad Strawberry Company maintains four fruit stands during strawberry season, which typically runs from Christmas through July. One is in front of the Flower Fields, another in Del Mar, and a third at the company’s 44,000-square-foot warehouse on Aviara Parkway.

Aviara Parkway warehouse

The Ukegawa family purchased the warehouse 30 years ago when their agricultural operation was wholesaling produce to supermarkets has been into a sort of farmers market. They used to sell strawberries to supermarkets all over the country, but they were ultimately priced out by inexpensive produce from Mexico.

The warehouse has turned into a sort of farmers market and in addition to selling his own strawberries, Mr. Ukegawa rents out stall space on the dock of the warehouse to growers of citrus and other fruits and vegetables. This year visitors can buy fresh milk from the Hollandia Dairy; eggs from the Fluegge Egg Ranch in Valley Center; avocados from Escondido, oranges, limes, and lemons from Valley Center; flower bouquets from the Carlsbad Flower Mart, El Nopalito chips and salsa from Encinitas; and gelato made in Carlsbad by GelatoLove Carlsbad Village in the Carlsbad Village Faire shopping complex.

CSA Boxes

An increasingly popular item is a 25-pound box of assorted produce that sells for $25. Ukegawa and other farmers who belong to North County Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) collectives all contribute crops to the boxes, which may be ordered online and picked up, curbside, in the warehouse parking lot. Ukegawa and his team will deliver. In a typical week, customers will buy upwards of 1000 CSA boxes.

An example of a produce box from Carlsbad Strawberry Company. Other add on options include chips, salsa, milk, etc.

Giving Back to the Community

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Mr. Ukegawa has given away thousands of pounds of produce, both his own and donated by other farmers, to three local charities: The Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad, the city of Carlsbad Senior Center, and the Carlsbad Unified School District, which through a food drive began handing out food to needy families after the mid-March closure of schools disrupted the school lunch program.

There is no limit on the number of strawberries you pick, so be sure to pile them in!

Where is it located?

The Carlsbad Strawberry Company is located at the corner of Cannon Road and Paseo del Norte, just east of Interstate 5 at the Cannon Road exit in Carlsbad. They are just right around the corner from the Carlsbad Flower Fields, the Carlsbad Company Stores, and Legoland California.

They are open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. There is a $5 admission fee per person; children 5 and under are free. Each small bucket (admits 1 person and is $10. They accept credit cards (Amex, Visa, MasterCard), cash & check. No reservation is necessary.

If you don’t live in Carlsbad and plan to visit, be sure to check out one of our vacation rentals in Carlsbad or the surrounding areas for a place to stay.

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