Saengzun Zeux knows his strawberries. The Laos- born Granite Bay resident is the owner of Saeng’s strawberry stand located at the corner of Douglas Boulevard and Barton Road in Granite Bay. Zeux has been selling strawberries at the Barton Road location for the past 15 years. He and his family moved to Granite Bay from Sacramento a few years ago.
“I really like it here,” Zeux said. “The people who come to my stand are so nice. I have lots of repeat customers and when they come in they always tell me how much they like the berries and that makes me feel so good. That’s why I’m here. I want to grow the best berries for all my customers.”
For Zeux, it’s a family affair. His wife, four children and various relatives all work in a field located down the street from the stand on about five acres at Otow Orchards in Granite Bay. They begin work in the field before the sun comes up. Once their buckets are full of berries, Zeux and his crew return to the strawberry stand to sell the bounty of their hard labor. Zeux needs all the help he can get as running the seasonal strawberry stand is not his only job.
“Besides growing and selling strawberries, I am a teacher’s aide at the Sacramento Unified School District,” he said. “I’m so thankful that my family is here to help during the strawberry season.”
Zeux’s 28-year-old son, David, helps out when he can between his job at the state of California as an analyst and his schooling at California State University Sacramento.
“I know how busy my parents are being farmers,” David said. “They have always been supportive of me, so I like to help them. When I am able to come here and work it helps to bring us all together as a family.”
Zeux is proud of the product he sells at his Granite Bay stand. In order to produce the best berry his customers will enjoy, Zeux said he spends countless hours researching the amount of water the plants should receive, the type of berry to plant as well as the amount of space each seedling needs for optimum growth.
“We planted two types of fruit back in August,” Zeux said. “Right now we are selling Seascape berries and in a few months the Chandler berry will be ready for picking.”
Most people may not recognize the difference between the two berry varieties, Zeux does.
“The Chandler is juicer,” he said. “But many of our customers prefer the Seascape.”
Zeux also said the size of the berry is determined by the weather. Cooler spring temperatures produce larger fruit while hot summer days tend to produce smaller strawberries.
“When it is really hot, it is not good for the berries,” he said. “When that happens, we are out in the fields trying to place as many berries as we can underneath the leaves to protect the fruit.”
Saeng’s strawberry stand isn’t the only place to buy PlacerGROWN strawberries. Josh Huntsinger, Placer County agricultural commissioner, said there are dozens of strawberry farmers located from Foresthill all the way south to Roseville.
“Placer County is home to about 35 acres of strawberry production, consisting primarily of one- to four-acre plots throughout the western portion of the county,” Huntsinger said. “Lincoln, Roseville, Rocklin, Auburn and Loomis all have multiple strawberry stands similar to Saeng’s. “When you buy strawberries or any other type of crop from a PlacerGROWN farmer you not only will enjoy the freshest products, but you’ll develop an appreciation for the farmer who grows the food and understand their passion for their work. Making sure every product they sell is top quality is their number one priority.”