Find Farm-Fresh Produce in Irvine at Tanaka Farms
In the heart of Irvine is a local farm with a lot of history. Established in 1940, Tanaka Farms has been cultivating memories – and delicious produce – for generations. As Orange County’s largest “you-pick” farm, Tanaka Farms hosts year-round harvest events where visitors can tour the grounds, sample what’s in-season and even take home some farm-fresh produce. With so many unique features to enjoy, Tanaka Farms provides a perfect opportunity to learn more about this one-of-a-kind Irvine landmark.
Arriving at the farm, it’s hard to imagine this 40-acre hideaway sits in Irvine’s busy city center. The expansive property is decorated in rows of fresh produce along with a highly active market stand. The Tanaka family – Farmer Tanaka, his wife, Shirley, and their son, Kenny – can be found working on the farm nearly every day. A third-generation Japanese-American, Farmer Tanaka’s family came to America from Hiroshima, Japan, in the early 1940s. Since then, they cultivated plots of land throughout Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and Irvine, before finding their current location in 1998.
“We started with the strawberry tours and a small pumpkin patch and then, in 1998, we came to this piece of property. It took about six to seven years to grow to where it is now, so we can pretty much produce something year-round,” said Kenny Tanaka.
The City of Irvine has listed Tanaka Farms as a designated Open Space, which means it cannot be bought or developed.
One of the farm’s most popular attractions is its pumpkin patch, which brings in approximately 60,000 visitors during the month of October. The next most popular feature is the Strawberry Tour, running from March through June, where guests can sample strawberries, learn about the farm and take home a 1-pound basket of fresh berries. Summertime means melons are in-season, so from July through August, guests can take a tour the farm while tasting fresh, delicious watermelons and canary melons. Tanaka Farms also sells Christmas trees throughout the month of December.
If you’re on the search for things to do in Irvine, look no further than Tanaka Farms. Since it’s summer, visitors this month are arriving at Tanaka Farms for their Watermelon Tour. Perfect for children of all ages, this seasonal event is a great way for families to try fresh produce, learn how plants grow on the farm, and learn some fun facts along the way. “We try to give them some different things and hopefully they eat some fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Tanaka, “The goal is to try to get them to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables year-round.”
In addition to trying fruit, guests on the Melon Tour have the chance to sample vegetables, such as carrots, romaine lettuce, green beans, corn and spring onion. If you aren’t a fan of a particular vegetable, you can simply throw it over the wagon where it will become compost. Since the farm grows 60 different crops throughout the year, you can expect a ton of variety –they grow cucumbers, zucchini, purple cabbage, broccoli, bell peppers and even bananas! Those who want to take home some produce can visit the market stand where they will find 25 different types of crops inside.
Continuing his family’s commitment to providing the community with fresh and healthy produce, Kenny Tanaka is excited to bring this unique experience to Irvine. “It’s a great community. It’s very diverse community. There were quite a few farms before but now they’re kind of dwindling, so hopefully we can be a mainstay in the community, kind of in the middle of everything right in the heart of Irvine.”
To learn more about Tanaka Farms, visit www.tanakafarms.com.