Year-Round Strawberries Farming
Strawberries, normally grown in cool climates, were typically imported rather than farmed domestically during the summer and fall. However, thanks to Nagano Prefecture’s cool climate and efforts to improve its varieties, the area now grows delicious strawberries all year round. For this interview, we spoke with Karuizawa Gardenfarm, a strawberry farm located in Karuizawa, a popular summer resort in Nagano Prefecture.
The owner, who has held executive roles in electrical machinery manufacturers, took his first steps toward creating Karuizawa Gardenfarm when he started cultivating strawberries in Karuizawa—a location he is well acquainted with. The farm now cultivates strawberries all year round: winter-spring strawberries from December to June and summer-autumn strawberries from July to November, taking advantage of the clear water that runs from Karuizawa Hotaru no Sato and the cold wind coming down from Mt. Asama.
What are the characteristics of the strawberries grown in Nagano Prefecture?
Strawberries can be grown all year round at Karuizawa Gardenfarm. Depending on the season, we alter the variety. As a result of the extreme temperature differences in the highland region, winter strawberries that are gathered from December to June have a rich sweetness and strong aroma. From July to the beginning of winter, we can harvest summer-autumn strawberries that have a refreshing acidity.
What are the things to keep in mind when growing strawberries?
Since strawberries are a member of the rose family, it is very susceptible to pests and diseases. It is crucial to spot abnormalities early and take countermeasures as soon as possible. Weather and temperature differences can also have a tremendous impact on flavour. We appropriately regulate fertilizer temperature and moisture levels while keeping an eye on the weather and the health of the strawberries to prevent a watery, thin taste.
What is the secret to growing delicious strawberries?
Our greenhouse is adjacent to a lovely river where fireflies flit about, located on a plateau at an altitude of 1,000 meters where cool breezes blow even in the height of summer. The temperature difference between day and night affects the sugar content of the fruit, making them incredibly sweet. And, although it takes lots of labour and yields are low, exposing strawberries to cold air and manual thinning are the key to producing the most flavorful strawberries ever tasted. It really makes a big difference.
Does the flavour of white and ordinary strawberries differ in any way?
After sampling white strawberries from all around the country, we discovered a kind known as Shinju-hime that has an especially sweet flavour and aroma. We received special permission from the breeder who created this variety to cultivate it. The Shinju-hime is a particularly white variety even when compared to other white strawberries, as even the rind and seeds are white. The sweetness and strong aroma are its distinguishing features, which resemble the sweetness of ripe peaches submerged in syrup. Even when fully ripened, the strawberry maintains its colourlessness. The skin may get a little pink when it gets exposed to strong sunlight, but this does not affect the fruit’s ripeness or sugar level. Because it’s challenging to tell when they’re fully ripened, unlike conventional strawberries, we have skilled employees that examine each of them carefully.
How many strawberries do most people eat on average during the all-you-can-eat strawberry picking?
Our strawberries grow to a large size, so we think most will be satisfied after eating 30. When you eat too many, though, you might get sick. So don’t overdo it—have just enough until you are satisfied!
Do you have any suggestions on how to eat strawberries other than eating them as they are?
Let us introduce our signature souvenir, the Shunkaru. The Shunkaru is a unique strawberry treat created in Karuizawa using a patented method that quickly removes the water content at a low temperature of 40°C. The treat is made with no added sugar and maintains the intense colour, scent, and sweetness of fresh strawberries. You can enjoy the rich flavour of the fruit as if you were eating them as they are, while at the same time enjoying a new, light, crispy texture. We hope you come and try them out.
Karuizawa Gardenfarm Strawberry Garden
Karuizawa Gardenfarm has a wide variety of strawberries in summer and winter that you can pick on the spot in their warm greenhouses. Strawberry picking is held all year round, and at peak seasons, you can even have an all-you-can-eat course.
Address: 2062-1 Hotchi, Karuizawa, Kita, Nagano
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