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Berries fresh from the farmer

AT THE MARKET | Kathy Lassen-Hahne

The Medina family’s roots were first planted in Guadalajara, Mexico, and have now blossomed into full flower and fruit at the Medina Berry Farms in Watsonville, where three generations of Medinas grow three types of berries on three 25-acre farms.

Their berries are available fresh from the fields every Saturday morning at the Fillmore Farmers Market at Fillmore and O’Farrell Streets.

The patriarch of the first generation of Medinas began as a berry picker. Then he became a broker, eventually learning how to grow berries himself. He bought land and started his own farm and still works there today.

The business began more than 30 years ago and now produces certified organic strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. With plentiful sun and cooling ocean breezes, the farms boast the perfect climate for growing berries. A simple water drip process with fertilizer aids the growth of the fruit, with fabric tunnels protecting them from rain. Ten family members and ten other helpers pick and pack the berries each day from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Medina family members sell the produce exclusively at farmers markets.

Pedro Medina Jr. presides over the family’s booth at the Fillmore market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The secret of Medina Farms’ success, he says simply, is “love.” Medina says he loves working outside and watching things grow. And he takes pride in a business he hopes can be passed on to a fourth generation of growers.

Sister-in-law Cecilia Montoya, a student at San Jose State, happily assists shoppers at the market. Medina says he prefers his berries in their pure state or with yogurt, but Montoya says she likes them for dessert with Nutella. She also highly recommends strawberry lemonade.