Customers cry after Fresno County produce stand permanently closes
CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) — Customers share their sadness after a stall selling local products from the valley was permanently closed this week.
The Saturn fruit stand had been on the ground near the corner of Shaw and Locan in Clovis for over a decade.
They had many loyal customers who were eager to buy their fresh fruit and produce.
But now the stand is empty and so is the pitch.
The company posted on Facebook and Instagram on Monday that it had finished its last strawberry season.
Comments from community members poured in, thanking the family stand for over 10 years of fresh produce.
The corner lot will house part of the community development of the Loma Vista Master Plan.
The family who run the stand tell Action News that failure to renew the lease on their farm and stand was only part of the reason they were forced to close.
Lilian Thaoxaochay knows the challenges faced by Saeterns and other strawberry growers. She is a small farm community educator through the UC Cooperative Extension.
“Fresno strawberry growers don’t grow for commercial production, it’s all local and they pick daily,” says Thaoxaochay.
“The increased cost of boxes and baskets, things you don’t always think about when buying berries…these prices have gone up so much that with the drought, with the increase in PG&E…they just can’t make ends meet.”
She says small farms and stands are becoming harder to find as costs rise and Fresno County continues to grow rapidly.
Most producers are tenants and small family farms are often replaced by more profitable developments.
“There’s one in Selma, one in Kingsburg, a strawberry stand in Reedley. They’re all closed and you wouldn’t even know they were there,” says Thaoxaochay.
They have been replaced by new commercial buildings, forcing their former customers to turn to supermarkets for fruit and vegetables.
“When we only get our food from the grocery store, I think what we lose is the connection between the people who eat the food and the people who grow the food,” says Ruth Dahlquist-Willard of the UC Cooperative Extension.
Saeturn Fruit Stand encouraged its customers to continue supporting other local fruit stands.
You can find other stalls to buy local produce on gofruittrail.com.
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