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The Carlsbad Strawberry Company offers new attractions

Dad and daughter unveil Apple Cannons, Farmer's Market and Sunflower Maze.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — For nearly 70 years, the Carlsbad Strawberry Company has been growing sweet treats along California's Coast. In this Zevely Zone, learned about some of the farm's famous customers and how your next visit can end with a blast.

As delicious as the pickings are at the Carlsbad Strawberry Company, the father-daughter bond behind the fruit is even sweeter. "That's Robyn when she was little," said Jimmy Ukegawa who is the owner of the farm. Jimmy and his daughter Robyn showed me old pictures of their operation and in many of the pictures, Robyn is a little girl eating strawberries. Robyn can't count the number of strawberries she's eaten in her life, just like her father Jimmy has no idea how many people have visited his farm.  "A lot, ha, ha, ha," laughed Jimmy as we strolled the property among hundreds of visitors.  

Credit: Carlsbad Strawberry Company

Agri-tourism has meant opening their family's fields to the public. Most visitors are here for pick your own strawberry season.  This year the farm is offering two brand new attractions. They have a sunflower maze and year-round produce market.  They also have apple cannons. The apple cannons are air compressed cannons that shoot apples at almost 100 miles per hour.

Credit: Carlsbad Strawberry Company

Even so, strawberries are still the main attraction and visitors come to pick their own. "I am going to eat all of them. I am not even going to wash them," said one man with a huge smile. Jimmy and Robyn said over the years, they've sold strawberries to famous faces. "Kurt Russell and Adam Sandler," they confided.  

You don't have to be a celebrity to have a good time. "Hi, good morning," said Chelsey Evans.  She is a San Diego Travel Blogger on Instagram. Her handle is @chelseyexplores. Chelsey and her mother, Angela were basking in field of their favorite flowers. "Any time my daughter asks me to do something with her I jump at it and today was sunflower day," said Angela Servi.  

Credit: Carlsbad Strawberry Company

Along with a new farmer's market, the family knows how to keep things fresh with a five-acre sunflower maze that is included with a five-dollar admission. "When do I get to fire the Apple Cannons," I asked?  Without missing a beat Jimmy responded, "Right now."

Credit: Carlsbad Strawberry Company

For a family that loves fruit, they don't mind turning apples into ammunition. Before you ask me about firing apples into oblivion, I want to point out last year the farm donated 16,000 produce boxes filled with food for local pantries, the homeless, hungry veterans, and people in need. The Ukegawa family also donated $133,000 to the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Association which was half of the farm's revenue from their annual Halloween Festival.

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Okay, now let's fire some cannons. For that, I was assisted by an employee named Rod. "Pop the apple in, load it, there's the trigger right there," said Rod.  

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After the year we've had, it felt good to blow off some steam. I aimed at a huge target that read COVID.  "Yeah, I killed COVID," I yelled after hitting the mark.  Firing the heavy machinery reminded Robyn of her grandfather Hiroshi Ukegawa who started this farm in 1952. "Nicest man you'll ever meet," said Robyn. In 1941, her grandfather was in an internment camp, the very next year he put that bitterness aside, joined the Army to become a paratrooper in World War II. "That generation they never gave up they never help it against anyone. They served their country," said Jimmy about his father.  

For the Ukegawas, life has always been about country, family, and strawberries. Four generations of growing in California in all. As the years passed, the strawberries kept growing and so did the dad-daughter bond between Jimmy and Robyn.  "Every age is the best though," said Jimmy.  

I asked Jimmy how it felt to see so many people on his farm. It's been really heartwarming, it's made us sustainable," said Jimmy.  If a family day is on your horizon, fields of joy await in Carlsbad. "Those are sweet. My compliments to the chef," I said after eating a beautiful strawberry.  

For information about the Carlsbad Strawberry Company click here.

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