Cody Edwards, owner of the Yakima Berry Company, has turned a Covid-time backyard experiment into a full-fledged business, harvesting between 6,000 and 8,000 pounds of strawberries on about 1.5 acres near Toppenish.
“I could probably sell 150 boxes a week at the farmers market if I had them to sell,” Edwards said. “Right now, as much as I can grow, I can sell. It’s the first fruit of spring, and people love to see it.”
While Edwards is one of a handful of strawberry growers east of the Cascades, Washington farmers have been cultivating the fruit for nearly 200 years, reports Wendy Hoashi-Erhardt, who directs the small fruit breeding program at Washington State University’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center. “The market has changed a lot. Washington and Oregon used to be major strawberry producers in the U.S. Starting in the 1970s, California became the dominant player,” she said.